PEOPLE | Dec 6, 2018

Cloud Computing: why and how will it grow in 2019?

Interview with Francesco Bonfiglio, CEO of Engineering D.HUB, commenting on Assintel Report 2019, which foresees a 25% increase in investments in the Cloud next year

A strongly growing ICT market is forecast by Assintel Report 2019, with a +1.6% increase estimated for next year, compared with a 0.7% increase in 2018 over 2017. Most of the investments will be driven above all by Virtual and Augmented Reality (72%), wearables (43.9%), Artificial Intelligence (31%), Big Data and Analytics (26%), and Cloud (25%). The latter in particular will reach 1.8 billion euro, mainly for IaaS and PaaS services.

What is the “winning” Cloud model?

“The technology virtualization model, originally in its infrastructural component, which the Cloud paradigm has made so pervasive in our society,” – comments Francesco Bonfiglio, CEO of Engineering D.HUB – “has now become a commodity. It is now normal to speak of the ‘commoditization’ of IT and it appears that this term is a mantra of the digital age where everyone wants to make and sell digital products, but no one wants to come to terms with the necessary technology any longer. The meaning of the word ‘commodity’ itself indicates a product of common utility, which can be used by the market without any particular differences among the various suppliers that produce it. That is to say, one is as good as the other …”.

Does this perhaps mean that the quality of the technology produced is not important?

“The issue is difficult because anyone who produces or uses technology knows perfectly well the value of quality, performance, speed, maintainability and scalability … of an application, a framework, an infrastructure and not least a team of specialists. The virtualization of IT, at all levels, offers enormous opportunities in terms of speed, especially for the creation of new services. These new services can be breakthroughs for a start-up that manages to find a solution outside a specific context which requires access to legacy or historical data and services. On the contrary, for a large company, innovation passes through two factors: the speed and agility that IT virtualization and commoditization solutions – such as the Cloud – offer; and the ability to integrate them, lower them and make them coexist with the technological pool of data and existing processes. This dichotomy that Gartner has taught us to call IT bi-modality has now been recognized for years as the real reason for the low speed of the transformation and innovation of large companies and the solution can only be bi-modal, like the problem”.

So do we need to think of a bi-modal and hybrid Cloud?

“A bi-modal and hybrid solution consists of a service platform that combines public Cloud, private Cloud, infrastructures and on-premises systems, remote and local teams, monitoring, brokering and metering tools and everything that normally constitutes the infrastructural nervous system of an IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service), but in multi-Cloud (or multi-provider, multi-source) mode. On this issue, Engineering D.HUB has built its own Cloud proposition that decouples and makes transparent the complexity of the various technological stacks of the Cloud existing on the market and therefore allows the customer to take advantage of a virtualization approach without having to immediately replace existing technology platforms or bind itself to a specific public Cloud provider that is unable to meet all needs. An IaaS platform alone, however, is no longer able to offer customers the scalability and integrability necessary for producing value in the digital world”.

 

Can the Cloud still be considered an enabling infrastructure?

“To understand the paradigm of the Cloud we must first understand that of service. An effective cloud adoption strategy cannot therefore be separated from a strategy of transition to services or the transformation of one’s own portfolio of offer, inside and outside the company, into a real catalog of services. To move from the infrastructure to services and make the most of the agility that the Cloud can offer, it is necessary to integrate existing and future applications and infrastructures in a simple and inexpensive way to avoid risks associated with re-engineering that slow down digital transformation. Finally, it is necessary to be equipped with connectors to internal and external sources and engines of analysis, correlation and interpretation that make it possible over time to collect data from the enterprise, the open world, sensor networks and the APIs of other ecosystems.

In short, it is necessary to see the IaaS no longer as a solution to an old problem but as the basic brick of a new platform of technologies and services that allows hybrid integration (Hybrid Integration Platform) and on which Business Services Platforms can then be built. Stratification of the Deployment Platform, the Hybrid Integration Platform and the Ecosystem Platform constitutes a new IT architecture of the future on which it is possible to make legacy and the new, the functional and the technical aspect, and maintenance of the existing and the drive for innovation coexist. Control therefore of the technological infrastructure, of its quality and its performance, however no longer as a constraint for every new evolution or mere element of operating cost, but as the internal layer of a platform that allows the abstraction necessary for designing and developing new services with a pure business sense”.

How should the growth of Cloud services be interpreted?

“The use of Cloud services simply to compensate or replace existing and on-premise infrastructures for reducing their operating costs is an expectation that everyone now knows is overly simplistic. The Cloud cannot yet supplant existing and traditional architectures for most of the workloads where processes are executed and the core data of most large companies are managed. The growth of the Cloud goes hand in hand with the development of a differentiated offer: it is necessary to be able to provide brokerage tools that allow change over time of Cloud providers without binding ourselves to anyone but also and above all for making the new Cloud infrastructures cohabit with those that already exist. The mere adoption of IaaS without a strategy of integration among heterogeneous platforms, without the use of technologies and integration approaches such as RPA (to be able to easily integrate the legacy with the new) as API manager (to be able to use and export services from the growing ecosystem on the market) and without a platform capable of integrating Cloud, Analytics, AI, IoT and other enabling technologies for the creation and management of new business services, risks being limited in time.

The growth of the Cloud market will therefore certainly accelerate only if combined with a strategy of creating business value through the Cloud and no longer just reducing cost (TCO reduction) as originally and still feared by Cloud Service Providers. In this sense, the growth of the Cloud is destined to be overtaken by the growth of platforms and associated services for their management and this because, thanks to the Cloud, integrated platforms make it possible to create real market value by producing revenues rather than by reducing costs. Man’s great capacity for creation is destined to rise from the level of choice of technology to that of orchestration and design of services through new architectures. But it is precisely this great capacity that will always remain the only element that can never be virtualized”.