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The Future of Cloud: The Cloud Continuum


Cloud of yesterday is not Cloud as we know it today.  The computing model continues to evolve, and virtualized enterprise data centers converge with public cloud service in creating the emerging frontier of hybrid cloud computing.  Where is cloud computing going and what is next? 

neXCurve hosted a discussion with a panel of cloud experts from IBM, to discuss the present and the future of cloud and the IBM Institute of Business Values’ white paper “Navigating The Cloud Continuum”. Leonard Lee, Dean Freeman and Akshay Sharma of neXCurve were joined by Cristene Gonzalez-Wertz, Martin Kienzle, and Christophe Begue of IBM in an insight-filled discussion on the future of cloud computing and the need for enterprises to consider the Cloud Continuum as they advance their cloud strategy.

Cloud Today in The Electronics Industry

With the rise in cloud adoption, electronics companies are broadening from an operational mindset to an innovation orientation.  According to IBM’s IBV study, hybrid cloud is the driving force behind this transition, providing new use cases that empower business reinvention across a wide range of industries that the electronics industry influences and affects.  Whether you are looking at medical devices, home automation hubs, autonomous vehicles or smartphones, all of these electronic products are becoming smarter and connected to the cloud and participating in value-added digital services that go beyond the hardware.

As electronics CIOs and business executives negotiate their company’s unique position in the cloud continuum, some are using key criteria (business value, security, data needs, speed) to identify compelling use cases for hybrid cloud adoption that can generate business innovation and value.  Martin Kienzle, electronics industry leader of IBM Research, stated that the essence of reinvention for electronics companies is “as a service” business models that will help product and hardware-centric firms transition into an increasingly service-oriented and capable business.

The Cloud Continuum: New Hybrid Cloud Value

What is the cloud continuum?  It is the seamless distribution and orchestration of compute across a hybrid portfolio of private and public clouds with on-premise systems.  The cloud continuum suggests a shift in the cloud conversation away from its current fascination with public cloud back toward enterprise as the economics and suitability of migrating workloads to the public cloud change due to continued advancement and simplified packaging of cloud functions and service delivery platforms that drive improved economics and scalability of private cloud implementations.

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So, why is the Cloud Continuum important?  Simply put, we will be increasingly dealing with a hybrid cloud that will enable applications to be instantiated, deployed and orchestrated across private and public cloud environments.  The hybrid cloud will change the way we think of cloud as well as unleash new possibilities in the way we design, implement and manage applications.

The Evolution of The Cloud Continuum

What is next for the Cloud Continuum?  It will be edge computing fostered by the imminent evolution of 5G networks and a generation of real-time, resource intensive IoT applications that will distribute computing everywhere in an on-demand, dynamic fashion.

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While hybrid cloud creates new possibilities in how we think of cloud, the “Edge” expands the cloud frontier as Akshay Sharma of neXt Curve puts it, “beyond the cloud megaplexes to the central offices and base stations ever closer to the endpoints that consume the compute.”  We can expect dramatic shifts in the expanded Cloud Continuum as 5G continues to evolve and mature from its first commercial deployments next year and the economics of cloud computing change as a result.

New Hybrid Cloud Opportunities

According to Cristene Gonzalez-Wertz, research director of IBM’s Institute of Business Value electronics companies have a great opportunity to develop new cloud-enabled services around their products to enhance the overall value that they deliver to their customers whether through new product functionality and applications, enhanced technical and warranty services, or cognitive supply chain.

The hybrid cloud will provide the medium for these transformative innovations.  It will breed the reinvention of the electronics industry by providing a digital fabric on which data can be collected and shared, intelligence can be distributed on-demand and analytics can be performed real-time at the point of cyber-physical interaction.  Of course, all of this will need to be done securely and in compliance with the privacy and data protection policies of the enterprise and the ecosystem that it leads or participates in.  The hybrid cloud will break down barriers and the opportunities will follow.  Time to get ready to innovate and reimagine your business.

Implications for Business Leaders

Cloud is an intrinsically digital technology.  Like any digital technology, it is subject to rapid transformation.  Business leaders need to recognize that cloud is undergoing changes that will gradually alter the discourse on cloud computing.  Public cloud is not the end-all state of computing.  There is something on the diametric opposite.  That alternative state is the private cloud, but there is plenty in the middle – the hybrid cloud.  Most business leaders without a technical background will struggle to understand what the hybrid cloud is and why it is important, but those who arrive at clarity will see the opportunities to differentiate their products and business models from the rest of the pack.

Technology leaders should consider the fast-evolving state of cloud and the economics of hybrid cloud.  The decision criteria for your cloud strategy will no longer be merely based on the comparative economics of public cloud versus on-premise or agility versus perceived lack of agility.  As enterprises continue to virtualize and modernize their data centers as well as adopt DevOps practices, agility will no longer be an exclusive benefit of public cloud.  With the advent of consumer IoT, electronics companies will need to consider the new options that a hybrid cloud provides in delivering improved digital services and performance to their customers while maintaining security and privacy.

Contact us if you are interested in finding out how we can help your organization develop a cloud strategy that takes advantage of the fast-evolving opportunities presented by the Cloud Continuum and optimize your cloud investments.

You can listen to the audio replay of our The Future of Cloud webcast by playing the media below or downloading the Podcast available on iTunes.  Subscribe to our Podcast channel and keep up to date on the latest insights from neXt Curve.

Presentation Materials

Audio replay of the The Future of Cloud: The Cloud Continuum webcast with IBM

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