When we think about the public cloud, the list of credible providers can sometimes seem rather short.
(The Great Wall of China. Source: Paul Miller)
In North America, Europe, and elsewhere, the same few names tend to dominate. But not in China. There, big local brands continue to command impressive market share. And now they're looking to expand into new territories, including Europe.
Huawei hardware and Huawei's distribution of the OpenStack open source cloud platform power T-Systems' Open Telekom Cloud. This was launched, with some fanfare, at CeBIT in Hannover.
Alibaba Cloud, which leads the Chinese public cloud market, is also coming to Europe this year.
In my latest report, I take a look at what both Alibaba and Huawei bring to Europe's public cloud market, and ask whether they can repeat their domestic success in this market.
TL;DR - it would be unwise to discount either of them.
Today’s customers, products, business operations, and competitors are fundamentally digital. Succeeding in this new era mandates everyone constantly reinvent their businesses as fundamentally digital. You have two choices,
· become a digital predator; or
· become digital prey.
To compete in this new digital market norm, software applications and products must contain new sources of customer value while at the same time adopting new operational agility. I&O pros need to change from the previous methods of releasing large software products and services at sporadic intervals to continuous deployment. All must adopt key automation technologies to make continuous deployment a reality.
Over the past 25 years, many organizations have modelled their support – and in some cases their delivery organization – after the ITIL frameworks and processes. For many, ITIL has been helpful in establishing the rigor and governance that they needed to bring their infrastructure under control in an era where quality and consistency of service was critical and technology was sometimes fragile.
Today, we are 5 years into “The age of the customer” – an era where customer obsession is driving technology and which demands a culture of speed and collaboration to differentiate and deliver extraordinary customer experience to drive business growth. In this era, the rise of mobility and the race to deliver differentiated business processes is critical to success. Your development teams are driving velocity and elasticity with increased quality and availability, leveraging DevOps practices and often driving change directly to production.
This transition has led some organizations to experience friction between the competing priorities, velocity and control, especially for those who continue to execute on the traditional model of ITIL.
ITIL is starting to show signs of age. That does not mean it is on the verge of demise. ITIL must adapt. To understand the relevance of ITIL and IT Service Management practices in this era of Modern Service Delivery, Eveline Oehrlich and Elinor Klavens and I have embarked on a review of ITIL and the use of IT Service Management practices supporting todays BT agenda.
As we embark in the era of “cloud first” being business as usual for operations, one of the acronyms flying aground the industry is SDDC or the Software Defined Data Center. The term, very familiar to me since starting with Forrester less than six months ago, has become an increasing topic of conversation with Forrester clients and vendors alike. It is germane to my first Forrester report “Infrastructure as Code, The Missing Element In The I&O Agenda”, where I discuss the changing role of I&O pros from building and managing physical hardware to abstracting configurations as code. The natural extension of this is the SDDC.
We believe that the SDDC is an evolving architectural and operational philosophy rather that simply a product that you purchase. It is rooted in a series of fundamental architectural constructs built on modular standards-based infrastructure, virtualization of and at all layers, with complete orchestration and automation.
The Forrester definition of the SDDC is:
A SDDC is an integrated abstraction model that defines a complete data center by means of a layer of software that presents the resources of the data center as pools of virtual and physical resources, and allows them to be composed into arbitrary user-defined services.
For many years, infrastructure and operations (I&O) professionals have been dedicated to delivering services at lower costs and ever greater efficiency, but the business technology (BT) agenda requires innovation that delivers top-line growth.
The evolution and success of digital business models is leading I&O organizations to disrupt their traditional infrastructure models to pursue cloud strategies and new infrastructure architectures and mindsets that closely resemble cloud models.
Such a cloud-first strategy supports the business agenda for agility, rapid innovation, and delivery of solutions. This drives customer acquisition and retention and extends the focus beyond ad hoc projects to their complete technology stack. The transition to cloud-first mandates a transition for infrastructure delivery, management, and maintenance to support its delivery and consumption as a reusable software component. Such infrastructure can be virtual or physical and consumed as required, without lengthy build and deployment cycles.
Growing cloud maturity, the move of systems of record to the cloud (see my blog “Driving Systems of Records to the Cloud, your focus for 2016!)container growth, extensive automation, and availability of "infrastructure as code" change the roles within I&O, as far less traditional administration is needed. I&O must transition from investing in traditional administration to the design, selection, and management of the tooling it needs for composable infrastructure.
The Internet of Things, or IoT, finds its way into a lot of conversations these days. CES in Las Vegas last week was awash with internet-connected doo-dahs, including cars, fridges, televisions, and more. Moving away from the home and into the world of business, the IoT furore continues unabated. Instead of connecting cars to Netflix or a teen-tracking insurance company, we connect entire fleets of trucks to warehouses, delivery locations, and driver monitoring systems. Instead of connecting the domestic fridge to Carrefour or Tesco or Walmart in order to automatically order another litre of milk, we connect entire banks of chiller units to stock control systems, backup generators, and municipal environmental health officers. And then we connect the really big things; a locomotive, a jet engine, a mountainside covered in wind turbines, a valley bursting with crops, a city teeming with people.
Wind turbines in Ayrshire. (Source: Paul Miller)
The IoT hype is compelling, pervasive, and full of bold promises and eye-watering valuations. And yet, despite talking about connected cars or smarter cities for decades, the all-encompassing vision remains distant. The reality, mostly, is one in which incompatible standards, immature implementations, and patchy network connectivity ensure that each project or procurement delivers an isolated little bubble of partially connected intelligence. Stitching these together, to deliver meaningful views — and control — across all of the supposedly connected systems within a factory, a company, a power network, a city, or a watershed often remains more hope than dependable reality.
I joined Forrester recently as a senior forecast analyst on the ForecastView team focusing on business technology (BT) topics. What is ForecastView you ask? It’s a Forrester product that puts the numbers around our research reports by publishing a five-year quantitative outlook. To learn how our forecasts can help you with your investment decisions, read our ForecastView overview.
Our BT forecast team takes a look at cloud, security, IoT, business intelligence, marketing ad technology, Big Data, and other hot topics in the BT space. We launched our ForecastView BT bundle in 2015. In case you missed it, our three 2015 forecasts examined eCommerce platforms, cloud security, and API management. Some highlights:
Sizing The Cloud Security Market: Companies will spend $2 billion over the next five years to protect data in the cloud. We expect the market to grow at a staggering 40%+ CAGR over the next five years.
You have all heard the success stories of Uber and Airbnb as they leverage technology to disrupt existing business norms in the taxi and hotel businesses. Digital business successes such as these are pressuring traditional enterprises to focus on differentiation in business models, customer intimacy and velocity as they look to not only preserve market share, but – more importantly – to grow it! This is what Forrester calls the business technology (BT) agenda – technology investments that help your business win, serve, and retain customers.
Additionally, as an I&O professional you cannot ignore the investments, and success, with public cloud. For instance, public cloud providers like Amazon Web Services drive and deliver systems of innovation to create velocity both in new business ventures and traditional enterprises, especially in fueling mobility and web services. The investments to date are supporting the ability of the Public Cloud to support and drive innovation. Additionally, these solutions now raise the possibility of the cloud’s suitability for the next phase, transition of systems of record. This is one of the predictions in our Forrester “Predictions 2016: The Cloud Accelerates” which articulates 11 key developments for Cloud and what I&O professionals should do about them.
The “low hanging fruit” is gone – now it’s time to reach higher
For all sorts of reasons, CIOs increasingly find themselves trying to introduce (or impose, resurrect, or enforce) governance, compliance, audit and oversight across a dizzying array of cloud solutions. Some may have been introduced by themselves or their predecessors, but most have entered the business by other means.
Multiple clouds, in the Nevada desert (Source: Paul Miller)
Perhaps they've been procured, properly, by departments from Sales and Marketing to Logistics and Customer Support. Or perhaps it's a lone developer or a small team, with a company credit card and a problem to solve.
However it happened, your business is already a multicloud business, and the CIO is — increasingly — expected to answer for inefficiencies, regulatory lapses, poor financial controls, and more, wherever they crop up in a sprawling and confused IT estate.
The easy solution might be, at first glance, to assert control. To select a single provider, and to enforce that selection. To prowl the corridors of the business, plucking public cloud credentials and SaaS admin accounts from the unwilling fingers of employees.
But the braver CIO is the CIO who embraces their multicloud reality, who works to understand how and why committed and engaged employees felt it necessary to seek out their own solutions, and who learns lessons from the failures of the recent past.
The big public cloud providers, most of which are still from the United States, sometimes have a hard time finding ways to balance their legal obligations at home with the quite different sensitivities they encounter amongst their new international customers. For a long time, the toolkit has been pretty consistent: site data centres as close to the customer as possible, vehemently support political efforts to harmonize laws, and ocassionally be seen to stand up to the worst execesses of Government over-reach.
(Source: Flickr user Luigi Rosa. Image licensed under Creative Commons Attribution License)
Microsoft's announcements in Germany today appear, on the surface, to follow that model pretty closely. But there's a twist that's potentially very important as we move forward.
First, the standard bit. Microsoft, yesterday, announced new data centres will be operational in the UK next year, joining existing European facilities in Dublin and Amsterdam. Big competitor Amazon did much the same last week, announcing that a new UK data centre will be online in the UK by "2016 or 2017." Given the vague timescales, it might be easy to assume that Amazon was trying to steal a little of Microsoft's thunder with a half-baked pre-announcement. And then, today, Microsoft announced two new data centres in Germany. Amazon already has a facility there, of course.