The inaugural Equinix Cloud Forum recently took place in Sydney, Australia. The forum, like similar events in Singapore and Hong Kong, brought together cloud service providers, technology vendors and enterprise customers to discuss cloud adoption and market trends. We asked Tamas Horvath, Equinix Australia’s Global Solutions Architect, to share some insights from the event.
What is the overall market sentiment about cloud adoption globally and in Australia?
Tamas: One trend speakers emphasized was a shift in IT that puts the customer and the business function in the center – ahead of IT systems. Cloud services are commoditizing and standardizing IT building blocks, and that’s changing the role of enterprise IT. Now, it’s more about building and managing services, as opposed to IT systems. As Oracle noted, the CIO’s job is now driving the bus from A to B. It’s not up to him or her to look under the hood to fix the engine. That’s up to the mechanics, meaning the cloud providers. And given the standardized nature of the building blocks, those will come from multiple vendors. So, as PwC noted, the hybrid multi-cloud is now the norm.
From a technology perspective, are there still any major roadblocks for cloud adoption?
Tamas: PwC noted that the focus today is shifting from data sovereignty to cloud security, especially in Australia. Just looking at the top Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) vendors, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure and IBM Softlayer all have local data centers now. Among the top four, only the Google Cloud Platform is not yet present locally. So data is off-shore in Australia. However, we see increasing demand for cloud security related solutions, like cloud direct connectivity. We clearly see this trend at Equinix in Sydney where we host the cloud direct access gateways for AWS, Azure and Softlayer, with an increasing number of customers implementing multi-cloud private connectivity to all these major IaaS providers.
Are regulation and compliance still the major concern for cloud models?
Tamas: Yes, but there are solutions. One speaker criticized regulators for being a roadblock to cloud transition, especially in the financial services industry. However, QBE Insurance and others pointed out that the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) actually provided useful guidance on the architecture in their July 2015 letter on outsourcing involving shared compute services, including cloud. One of the main guidelines is about managing the counterparty risk of cloud vendors by having an exit strategy, either to another public cloud or to the customer’s directly owned private cloud. At Equinix, we’ve started to see Australian financial organizations either looking at public-to-public cloud failover or building a single-tenanted, private environment as an exit plan. In either case, being in close proximity to public clouds at Equinix data centers can reduce latency, increase security and achieve high throughput at a low cost, since the data never leaves the data center walls when hybrid backend communicates.
Another example involves Suncorp – their case was the topic of roundtable discussions I participated in at the forum. They announced they are going all-in with AWS back in 2013, but halfway through the transition, they found that they couldn’t host certain types of data in the cloud for regulatory compliance reasons. That challenge was addressed by a hybrid storage solution delivered by NetApp, in which the data is fully on-premise in a single-tenanted private environment, but the NetApp devices use AWS Direct Connect to access the compute resources – virtual machines running in Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud instanced in the AWS virtual private clouds. This NetApp Private Storage for Cloud (NPS) solution is now supported in Equinix Cloud Exchange locations globally.
Learn more about NetApp solution with Equinix, and check this space for follow-up articles on trends discussed at the Equinix Cloud Forum in Sydney.