From local to hybrid clouds, OnlyIT is taking a look at the future of cloud computing and the data centre. We sat down with AJ Byers, president of Rogers Data Centres, to find out what cloud computing trends we’ll be seeing in 2014. We included an excerpt from the exclusive interview, to give you an idea of what to expect from the cloud in the coming year.
AJ: AJ Byers, president of Rogers Data Centres
What emerging trends are you seeing in cloud computing?
AJ: I’d say the biggest trend we’re seeing is that the hybrid cloud environment is becoming the most popular environment for most businesses, as they transition into the cloud. Due to the large number of security concerns that have faced data over the last 12 to 18 months, we’re seeing a shift to more private cloud computing and more of a real hybrid environment.
One of the other big things around security that we’re seeing is encryption. A lot of companies now are looking for their data going into cloud environments to be encrypted, and a large number of requests are coming asking for more guarantees, service level agreements and quality of service guarantees. So we’re certainly seeing more management around how companies leverage their cloud service providers.
What predictions do you have for cloud computing in 2014?
AJ: One of the other big things that we’re going to see more of in 2014 is the local cloud. The cloud is supposed to be ambiguous and out in the ether, but in reality companies who are moving to the cloud are asking for their server and their data infrastructure to remain local. They’re looking for cloud providers to actually have local environments. So when we’re in Alberta, companies are looking for a local cloud in Alberta, or when we’re in Ontario they want a local cloud in Ontario.
As well, I would say all applications that people are buying today are certainly moving to the cloud. We’re going to see a greater view on that, where probably a year ago 50 or 60 per cent of the applications out there were available in a cloud-based scenario – we’re going to see that increase to 70 or 80 per cent of the time, that application will be available in the cloud.
In terms of security, what will be an emerging trend in 2014?
AJ: Going down the encryption path, we’re going to see a greater look at security in the cloud. People are going to be far more rigid about the security models and where their data resides. We’re seeing a lot of people saying we want our data to remain in Canada, due to the recent items around the NSA, so I think we’re going to see localized data requests, or in-country data requests, be applied for cloud computing as well.
Very little data that sits in the cloud is encrypted today. More and more data will become encrypted in the cloud through 2014. Managing access into cloud environments will become more rigid. You’ll start seeing all access in the cloud environments tie to standards that are kind of closer to the payment card industry with dual authentication, and a number of other security and encryption concerns.
What about hot cloud solutions or technology that you think we’ll see in 2014?
AJ: We’re going to start seeing more disaster-recovery into the cloud – technologies that allow companies to do disaster recovery right into the cloud. If they have a virtualized server environment in their office today, we’ll see deployments of technology where, with a click of the button, that server, in the event of a disaster, can be up and running in the cloud. I’d say that’s becoming far more prevalent in cloud providers today. The disaster recovery benefits that the cloud can provide for in-house virtualized environments are phenomenal.
What about cloud computing overall; where do you see that going in 2014, as well in the next five to 10 years?
AJ: 2014 is going to be more of an adoption year than a huge technology year. Over the last two to three years, the technology started over-performing the requirements. Cloud was a little bit behind, and people were moving to the cloud and the environment wasn’t always capable of sustaining what the people were trying to do in the cloud. At this point now, most cloud environments are capable. We’ve learned a lot in delivering cloud services, so the cloud product offerings are fairly mature, and customer adoption is going to catch up in 2014.
From a long-term perspective, I think as any provider, as customers stop buying their own infrastructure and running their own software, and as we see more software being bought in the cloud, in the long-term cloud providers will have to be more of an application service provider than an infrastructure service provider. So from a long-term perspective, it’s working with customers more at the application level than the infrastructure level.
How do you find enterprises are adapting to the cloud?
AJ: We’re continuing to see the shift of server infrastructure out of their own enterprise environments. We’re seeing a lot of enterprises move from having in-house data centres to using an outsource provider such as Rogers Data Centres. We’re seeing enterprises move a portion into private and a portion into a shared cloud environment, and then certainly still do co-location, but no massive moves just into cloud as a standalone.
The network is a very big part of the move today as well, because for most enterprises it’s not just about housing the data, it’s about carrying that data across the country, whether it be to their suppliers or to their employee base or out into the Internet. We’re finding the network component of the cloud computing implementation for enterprises to be very key as well.
I think the only big challenge that we still see with cloud is onboarding [enterprises] into the cloud. I think there’s a number of different cloud providers in the world and some of them are very hands on and some of them are just out there and you have to do your own thing, but the migration to the cloud has been complicated for many companies. What cloud providers need to do – and are starting to do – is make that onboarding process much simpler, and make it easier for companies to engage and utilize the cloud. They’ll get rid of the challenges of getting into the cloud and migrating your workloads into the cloud. I think you’ll see a big shift there, where that’s going to be much easier.