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The three stages of the cloud journey

As Jeremy Rifkin foresaw 20 years ago, we are living in the 'Age of access'. You're not obliged to buy and hold neither your hardware nor applications anymore. The cloud opened new opportunities: from Infrastructure to Software as a Service, offering efficiency and flexibility, allowing your company to concentrate its IT resources on the added value generated by the external or internal customer.

The first stage of the cloud journey

Possibly many of you had already started this journey. Along this path the organization gradually redefines the way it uses its IT to create value. You have probably already adopted or evaluated one of these opportunities:

  • cloud storage, back up and disaster recovery on external infrastructures protected by state-of-the-art encryption and security procedures;
  • access to applications in as-a-service (SaaS) mode;
  • server and storage virtualization in hardware resources within the company perimeter. ('the iron' and the data stay in the company data center but are managed more efficiently).

Second step: outsource hardware resources

The second step of the cloud journey consists of outsourcing of the company's hardware, (or the hardware allocated for a new project to begin with). The infrastructures are rented as a service, saving money and speeding up the time-to-market of a new project.

By eliminating the upfront hardware costs, the approval process is faster and there is no provisioning: there is no hardware to be appraised, selected, purchased, transported, assembled and tested. Safety is paramount and costs are related to the actual use (and therefore to the value generated). As you well know, it takes just a few seconds to install a virtual machine on a new server or to acquire the network resources (router, bandwidth) necessary to test first and then put a project into production.

SDx: the long-term goal

The third level or rather the goal of the cloud journey is the 'Software-defined everything' (SDx). In a software-defined infrastructure, the applications themselves are able to define their needs and to provision them, acquiring on the cloud the resources they will need and creating the necessary software tools (virtual machines or containers). This hyperconvergent IT combines the effects of both the outsourcing of computing, storage and network infrastructures and the separation of application software from its physical computational substrate.

In a fully virtualized architecture, projects become reality. IT managers should pre-configure a virtual server, literally describing its specifications, and insert the new application. The virtual infrastructure software will associate it with the most suitable physical resources available on the network and automatically configure the ideal size and articulation of the network. This way, the company will get the flexibility to adapt quickly to changing market conditions or to open up new business horizons with agility.

Of course, this goal is still quite far away, but "long journeys begin with a first step". Don't they?

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