Why you need to make sure your cloud agreement has an exit strategy

Martin Gubov, head of the infrastructure Business Unit at Soitron looks at why its going to get harder for vendors to sell servers and what you need to know about AaaS.

Has cloud won the battle already? It might certainly be the case in some markets, such as Western and Northern Europe, as well as North America and at least some parts of Asia-Pac. Especially in mid and SMB markets this is major trend, with customers accepting the idea of using cloud in huge parts of their IT stack for its convenience and cost saving potential. Agility of cloud services is truly in sync with the current hyper fast way of life.

That doesn’t mean to say there are no concerns. There are – as the Snowden revelations of previous years, and this quarter’s problems with the Safe Harbor US-Europe data sharing agreement highlight – still concerns with regards to where data resides and how secure it will be. Secondly it doesn’t scale up very well for large IT enterprises in terms of price and connectivity demands. But long-term trends in the basic economics of the IT industry are probably shaping up to push even the die-hards and most data-paranoid into the cloud’s arms.

Basically, it’s going to get harder for vendors to sell acres of servers anymore, as competition from super-hungry new server entrants (think: Huawei!) drives down efficiency-to-cost ratio. Hardware will soon become even more of a commodity item than it is now. Some amazing bargains can be negotiated today – it’s going to be even more of a buyer’s market soon.

What happens to cloud as that’s going on, though? There’s going to be a similar benefit to you, the customer; competition is going to drive prices down and make the big guys work harder to dream up attractive cloud value propositions. That will cover IaaS (infrastructure as a service) to start with, but cloud as PaaS (platform as a service) and cloud as SaaS (software as a service) will also get a lot more interesting as markets in the next few years, we predict.

What’s going to start shaping your world sooner than all that, though, is AaaS – application as a service. Why would you want applications as a service? Well, as a business, all you really care about in terms of IT is performance, availability, accessibility and security. Really, you don’t care how that’s delivered, so long as it is reliable and cost-effective.

It actually goes back to the very security issue we started with. The best way to deal with that is to evolve a smart cloud-enhanced application architecture that involves hybrid and distributed cloud, spreading the ‘risk’ of data location over multiple geographies, as well as closely integrating with your existing in-house IT infrastructure. And all this requires strong encryption so that data stolen from any location will have no value without the correct keys.

So exciting times are imminent. But don’t get light-headed! Be flexible, agile and (healthy) paranoid at same time – avoid to commit to either a new cloud or outsourcing agreement without a clear exit strategy. And ideally, try to find a flexible enough contract that will let you cloud ‘hop’ or swap in and out new partners for apps or IaaS as you need. Backup is easy, restore is the really tricky part – especially when you depend on a reliable and high-bandwidth connection to transfer information.

Martin Gubov is head of the Infrastructure Business Unit at Soitron.

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