The use of cloud technology is on the rise, as businesses are becoming increasingly aware of the multiple benefits cloud computing can have in terms of efficiency and profitability. People often ask us: ‘Should my organisation be using a private cloud or public cloud?’ The fact of the matter is that you don’t have to choose just one – you can get the best of both worlds by opting for a hybrid cloud model. A hybrid cloud is a mix of on-premises and public cloud infrastructures, which remain unique entities but are bound together by standardised technology that enables data and application portability.
We tend to think of ‘the cloud’ as a single destination, but this isn’t an accurate interpretation. The cloud is an amalgamation of services, including storage, networking, security, application deployment, and management tools. Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) models all rely on the cloud. As every business has different workloads, cloud models will vary from one company to another.
Every business is at a different stage when it comes to cloud maturity, with many looking at the next step in their transformation journey. But the one thing we all have in common is that we’re perpetually striving to get the most value we can from our cloud model.
From our experience, these are some of the common trends we’re seeing:
Firstly, applications that are used in a consistent way in different organisations – undifferentiated applications – are rapidly moving to SaaS. Email, finance and CRM applications were the leaders with examples like Office 365, G-Suite, Xero and Salesforce already widely adopted. But there are other examples emerging with SaaS offerings becoming common in areas like HR, travel management and training. As organisations refresh these types of applications, they are actively looking for SaaS options.
Secondly, the use of PaaS is also increasing. There are two main forces behind this – one is front of mind for many organisations and the other is almost going unnoticed. The first driver for PaaS is the modernisation of different applications in an organisation. These line of business applications are unique or significantly customised and typically drive a high level of value. These applications are being rearchitected as a collection of microservices and levering containers and serverless computing to achieve agility, economy and scale.
The other factor that is increasing PaaS usage is the number of core IT services that are transitioning to PaaS. Storage is well down this path. Identity is getting there. We suspect we will see this trend continue and many of the virtual machines that are residing on-premise or in a private or public cloud today will cease to be required.
Does this mean that IaaS will go away? Will we see the end of virtual machines? Probably not for a while yet. We will certainly see the percentage of workloads delivered by IaaS continue to trend down some core infrastructure services and many legacies or low priority line of business applications will continue to run there.
Some of these applications were written for a client-server world and will not perform adequately unless they are delivered from a private cloud close to users or even on-premise. Often these applications are important, complex and will take some time to transform. These will continue to run on IaaS for now. Other applications are simply not a priority. There are bigger gains elsewhere and bigger fish to fry. Those applications too will continue to run from IaaS for now.
But the trend is clear. SaaS and PaaS are on the rise. IaaS is declining.