by Daphne Chung, Research Director, Cloud Services and Software, IDC Asia/Pacific

End to end: The advantages of integrated cloud stacks

May 16, 2017
Cloud Computing

Digital transformation (DX) is the biggest driving force for organizations and the adoption of 3rd Platform technology today. As such, organizations increasingly need an underlying IT environment that provides a delivery platform that is flexible and agile yet resilient and will support new and existing workloads seamlessly.

IDC’s research indicates that over 90% of enterprise-scale organizations plan to make use of multiple clouds in the next several years. As cloud environments grow and become more complex, traditional tools and processes used to manage relatively static, tightly coupled IT infrastructure struggle to keep up with scaling, pooling, migrations and rapid pace of change that are the hallmarks of cloud IT operations.

For most enterprises, adoption of hybrid cloud is challenging and complex with connectivity and integration across business and technology processes being key requirements for successful hybrid cloud deployment. IDC cloud services research found that Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan) cloud users currently have, on average, 8–11 cloud service providers, increasing to 10–12 in 2018. Yet, their desired number of providers is “less than 5”.

This expansion of the number of cloud providers under management is driven by solutions being built from individual, best-of-breed cloud services, resulting in service delivery chains that can be less reliable and more complex to manage. An enterprise can invest in tools and processes or change their vendor selection criteria so that they have as few cloud service providers in the delivery chain as possible. An example of offerings of the latter are vendors that have brought tightly integrated end-to-end infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), platform-as-a-service (PaaS) and software-as-a-service (SaaS) platforms to the market to differentiate from the competition and address customer needs.

There are now more offerings spanning from bare metal to bare metal cloud with software defined networks to managed private clouds that also integrate seamlessly to cloud on-premises solutions. Vendors are also looking toward differentiating themselves at the application level, including application integration and development, and through to analytics, to provide broader end-to-end interoperable capabilities and functionality. As organizations look toward new platforms and innovative technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT), the infrastructure foundation becomes even more critical and needs to be service ready, cloud based, agile, flexible, able to scale on demand and opex based. Importantly, regardless of the type of cloud being considered, the infrastructure foundation should provide the necessary levels of security which remain a top concern.

Furthermore, as IaaS providers have also expanded their coverage and capabilities, SaaS vendors and users will increasingly seek to partner to leverage their delivery capabilities, ultimately gravitating toward a strategic megaplatform provider that can provide the breadth in compute integrated to PaaS platforms that allow them to quickly build and deliver innovation and adjacent services. And potentially consolidate the market toward more single stack and integrated cloud service providers.

Organizations will need to focus on vendor management both in terms of selection criteria and pricing, bearing in mind standardization as a key goal that will provide easier deployment and operations, and faster updates and access to features, but at the same time balancing that need against ensuring that it does not compromise the ability to innovate or stall business outcomes.

End users are looking at multiple cloud choices to leverage efficiencies and available choices, and the ability to transition and manage across their hybrid cloud models in a fluid fashion to achieve agility and efficiency in their transformation journey. IT teams are expected to automate IT resources to support new and core workloads out to the edge with IoT and mobile deployments. And increasingly, organizations will be looking toward their cloud providers as a partner on this journey.