Despite the wealth of experience the enterprise has gained in the cloud over the past decade, there is still a lot of uncertainty when it comes to establishing the right services, architectures and general functionality to produce an optimal data environment.
Part of this lies in the changing attitude toward the cloud. Where once it was seen as primarily a cost-cutting tool, the goal these days is to leverage the cloud’s unique capabilities for more forward-leaning applications and services – to essentially redefine the nature of enterprise architecture for an increasingly mobile, app-centric economy.
To be sure, the uptake of cloud services is on the rise. The latest report from Technavio pegs the compound annual growth of hybrid services at 23.8 percent between now and 2020. The growth spans a range of SaaS, PaaS and IaaS offerings as organizations seek to find more flexible and reliable means of supporting important, if not necessarily critical, business operations. Perhaps most significantly, the largest growth is likely to emerge in the small-to-medium sized enterprise market (SME), which will help level the playing field with their larger brethren in terms of infrastructure scale and global reach.
What’s also interesting is how the cloud is coalescing around a raft of related technologies to produce entirely new ways of utilizing data and constructing business models. As InfoWorld’s Eric Knorr points out this week, the latest wave of technology development that has produced everything from containers and NoSQL databases to streaming analytics and machine-learning APIs is leading to an entirely new enterprise architectures built around self-service, scalability, service-based development and continuous change. This is crucial for organizations facing the transition to a service-based economy as the current top-down approach to enterprise architecture is not flexible enough to handle the demands of agile workflows.
Part of this transition also involves using the cloud as the basis for emerging data virtualization platforms.