What is distributed cloud?
The cloud is becoming more complex as two major trends – hybrid cloud and Anything as a Service (XaaS) – gather speed. Gartner reports that client requests for hybrid cloud had grown 15 per cent to August 2020, as customers sought “the advantages of cloud computing while extending the range and use cases for cloud.”
Why hybrid cloud is a contradiction
The problem is that hybrid cloud, without proper management, is a minefield of complexity and ownership overlap. Part of it is owned and controlled by the customer, the rest by the public cloud provider. Innovation sits squarely with the provider, while the customer wants to bend its abilities to its unique set of needs. Hence the rise of distributed cloud.
What is the distributed cloud?
It all comes down to location. Historically, this hasn’t mattered much. The cloud, by its very name and nature, was ‘elsewhere’. An indistinct location or locations that didn’t matter as data were piped in and out. But the advent of XaaS has brought speed of service to the fore, and for that reason distributed cloud was born.
Distributed cloud can be thought of as a combination of public cloud, hybrid cloud and edge computing. That means processes can be assigned based on speed or ownership, moving the things that need to be flexible or controllable ‘towards’ the customer and the things that don’t ‘towards’ the provider. Everyone’s a winner.
What’s the advantage of distributed cloud?
Like edge computing, the central advantage is one of speed (low latency). In fact, in many instances edge and distributed cloud may be conflated. But edge alone does not offer the same resilience as a hybrid strategy where data are managed in such a way as to avoid widespread failures. Localising the things that need to work fast, and distributing the rest to cloud ‘substations’ offers an overall improvement in efficiency and productivity. There’s also increased compliance and a broader surface of cloud options for distinct business tasks.
What’s the future of distributed cloud?
According to Gartner , distributed cloud will progress in two phases:
- “Like-for-like hybrid, where enterprise customers will buy cloud substations to mimic the promise of hybrid cloud and avoid latency-based problems. These customers will not initially embrace the idea of opening their substations to near neighbors, whether geographical or industry-based, and will keep the substation on their premises to themselves. This will have the effect of enabling true hybrid cloud by having public cloud providers take responsibility for everything.”
- “Phase Two, or next-gen cloud, will consist of utilities, universities, city governments and telcos, among others, buying cloud substations and opening them for use by near neighbours. This will begin to establish the idea that distributed cloud represents the foundation of the next generation of cloud computing. This will also reflect the need for the continuum of distributed cloud. Next-generation cloud will work based on an assumption that cloud substations are everywhere — much like Wi-Fi hot spots.”
IT Employees Predict 90% Increase in Cloud Security Spending
As companies get back on their feet post-pandemic, they’re going all-in on cloud applications. In a recent report by Devo Technology titled “Beyond Cloud Adoption: How to Embrace the Cloud for Security and Business Benefits”, 81% of the 500 IT and security team members surveyed said that COVID accelerated their cloud timelines. More than half of the top-performing businesses reported gains in visibility. In fact, the cloud now outnumbers on-premise solutions at a 3:1 ratio.
But the benefits are accompanied by significant cybersecurity risks, as cloud infrastructure is more complex than legacy systems. Let’s dive in.
Why Are Cloud Platforms Taking Over?
According to Forrester, the public cloud infrastructure market could grow 28% over the next year, up to US$113.1bn. Companies shifting to remote work and decentralised workplaces find it easy to store and access information, especially as networks start to share more and more supply chain and enterprise information—think risk mitigation platforms and ESG ratings.
Here’s the catch: when you shift to the cloud, you choose a more complex system, which often requires cloud-native platforms for network security. In other words, you can’t stop halfway. ‘Only cloud-native platforms can keep up with [the cloud’s] speed and complexity” and ultimately increase visibility and control’, said Douglas Murray, CEO at cloud security provider Valtix.
Here’s a quick list of the top cloud security companies, as ranked by Software Testing Help:
What are the Security Issues?
Here’s the bad news. According to Accenture, less than 40% of companies have achieved the full value they expected on their cloud investments. All-in greater complexity has forced companies to spend more to hire skilled tech workers, analyse security data, and manage new cybersecurity threats.
The two main issues are (1) a lack of familiarity with cloud systems and (2) challenges with shifting legacy security systems to new platforms. Out of the 500 IT employees from Devo Technology’s cloud report, for example, 80% said they’d sorted 40% more security data, suffered from a lack of cloud security training, and experienced a 60% increase in cybersecurity threats.
How Will Companies React?
They certainly won’t stop investing in cloud platforms. Out of the 500 enterprise-level companies that Devo Technology talked to throughout North America and Western Europe, 90% anticipated a jump in cloud security spending in 2021. They’ll throw money at automating security processes and investing in security upskilling programmes.
After all, company executives will find it incredibly difficult to stick with legacy systems when some cloud-centred companies have found success. Since moving from Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) offerings to the cloud, Accenture has saved up to 70% on its processes; recently, the company announced that it would invest US$3bn to help its clients ‘realise the cloud’s business value, speed, cost, talent, and innovation benefits’.
The company stated: ‘Security is often seen as the biggest inhibitor to a cloud-first journey—but in reality, it can be its greatest accelerator’.