According to IDC, ‘cloud is now firmly established as an essential element of a digital-first strategy and will become the primary accelerator of innovation’. The increased pace of digital transformation across many industries, triggered by the global pandemic, has indeed stimulated public cloud adoption. As a result, organisations continue to rely less on traditional on-premises infrastructure and consider exiting their privately owned datacentres.
But one cloud won’t fit all.
The IT strategy must carefully consider the ‘best fit’ infrastructure for each individual workload. Cost is only one factor in this decision-making process. Business agility gained from advanced platform services like artificial intelligence or machine learning, and improved time to market from rapid application development, are now more common criteria today.
With remote and now hybrid work a standard practice, there is an increased need to deliver more digital services in remote locations. As such, it’s no surprise IDC forecasts by 2024 that worldwide spending on edge computing is expected to be $176 billion in 2022, which requires integration and interconnection of physical and digital infrastructure.
The IT strategy must carefully consider the ‘best fit’ infrastructure for each individual workload. Cost is only one factor in this decision-making process.
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Applications drive infrastructure selection
Cloud-native application development technologies such as containerisation and microservices, previously considered as the tools for start-up and consumer focused companies like Netflix and Spotify, are becoming mainstream in enterprise IT today. Additionally, new applications developed inhouse are taking advantage of the agile DevOps approach with continuous integration and continuous deployment.
But modernising existing applications comes with all sorts of challenges.
A simple “lift and shift” transition to public clouds without rewriting apps won’t unlock agile cloud-native platform capabilities. Refactoring traditional applications to the cloud can be costly and difficult to justify if no tangible business benefits are achieved. Moreover, a large group of applications still demand single-tenanted private infrastructure due to performance, regulatory compliance or data governance reasons.
When applications cannot go to public clouds, an on premises solution becomes the logical alternative. As a result, cloud-native development tools are fast becoming available for private and even bare metal environments. Amazon Web Services probably marked the dawn of this era of hybrid development when its container and Kubernetes services were made available for any platform.
A strong indication that a significant part of the digital infrastructure remaining in private environments was reported in a recent Flexera report, highlighting that 80% of enterprises are implementing a hybrid cloud strategy.
Hybrid infrastructure management
Diversifying across multiple clouds is also an important de-risking strategy to avoid vendor lock-in, although it brings different challenges. Organisations need centralised management and standardised sets of technologies that work consistently across a distributed environment to reduce operational costs and complexity. To address this, the public cloud providers have responded with their own hybrid management solutions, such as Google’s Anthos and Microsoft’s Azure Arc.
Additionally, infrastructure-as-code has become the new mantra for automation of configuration management and cross-platform tools, with HashiCorp’s Terraform and Ansible rapidly emerging as de-facto industry standards. Also, supported by all the major cloud providers, Kubernetes has become the mainstream containerised application management tool. Software defined hyperconverged infrastructure management vendors like Nutanix and VMWare have successfully pivoted from pure on-premises to hybrid solutions that embrace public clouds.
Cloudification of hardware
Private clouds are not just about virtualising compute and storage resources anymore. Sharing and even oversubscribing the same piece of hardware across many applications is something the public clouds do well with economies of scale.
Applications that don’t fit this model will demand bare metal, which are dedicated hardware resources to achieve the highest level of performance, isolation and security. Bare metal is far from simply being a piece of tin. Software defined provisioning, automation and broad support of integration APIs, hybrid configuration tools fitting into a DevOps CI/CD pipeline are all fundamental requirements. Pay-per-use commercial models with on-demand flexible capacity are key purchasing considerations.
This strong demand for private infrastructure has been acknowledged by the hyperscale cloud providers with the release of Microsoft’s Azure Stack, AWS Outpost, IBM Cloud Satellite and Oracle Cloud@Customer as a private piece of their global clouds. Traditional technology vendors also innovated with a range of ‘as a Service’ models to deliver flexible hardware capacity on demand, available direct from the manufacturer to address global supply-chain delays. Close proximity to public clouds is essential, hence these sovereign private solutions like NetApp Keystone, Dell APEX, HPE Greenlake and the Pure Storage as a Service are deployed in key Equinix locations globally, ready to be consumed by customers.
Cloud-adjacent digital core hubs
Equinix, as a digital infrastructure company, enables enterprises to integrate hybrid technology solutions from edge to cloud, in global core hub locations with rich interconnection options to a broad choice of public and private clouds, networks and digital ecosystems.
When enterprises move their current on-premises presence into multi-tenanted locations, they immediately create a strategic digital core of hybrid architecture to serve as a long-term foundation that can support new capabilities and applications, and importantly drive greater business agility.
 IDC FutureScape Worldwide Cloud 2022 Predictions, October 2021, Doc #US47241821
 IDC Press Release, New IDC Spending Guide Forecasts Double-Digit Growth for Investments in Edge Computing, January 2022