How enterprises are competing with digital infrastructure and cloud computing

bellagio1Enterprises are defining their own cloud strategies, their own way, ignoring vendor hype and requiring metrics that reflect security (61%), mean-time-to-recover from outages (57%), number of data center outages (51%).

This and many insights were gained from attending the 451 Research Hosting and Cloud Transformation Summit at the Bellagio Resort & Casino in Las Vegas last week. 451 Research provided a free pass to the event but did not cover travel, hotel or meals.

What’s refreshing about 451 Group’s conferences is that each of their companies including 451 Research, Uptime Institute, and Yankee Group rely on solid methodologies to research their coverage areas and markets. This results in presentations that are packed with insight and are based on a solid foundation of interviews and research.  

I had a chance to catch up with SoftLayer’s Lance CrosbySimon West and Andre Fuochi for an update on how the IBM acquisition is going, which is summarized in this post as well.  The slides shown are from Michelle Bailey, Vice President, Datacenter Initiatives and Digital Infrastructure’s excellent presentation given at the conference.

The following are the key takeaways from the summit:

  • Enterprises are defining their own cloud strategies, their own way, ignoring vendor hype and requiring metrics that reflect security (61%), mean-time-to-recover from outages (57%), number of data center outages (51%). When asked which metrics beyond Service Level Agreements (SLAs) service providers should report, respondents to the 451 Research survey provided the following insights, shown below:

  • The top three SaaS applications in two years will be for the enterprise, business support, and database platforms per 451 Research’s latest survey:

  • Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) growth is critical to off-premises hosting deployments succeeding in the next two years, as the following graphic illustrates:

  • 80%of enterprises would experience a severe impact to their operations if there was a cloud outage of just a day which make security and availability must-haves for any hosting and cloud services provider.  The following graphic breaks down the impact of service provider outage by time:
 
  • Worldwide Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) is projected to grow from $4.475B in 2013 to $10.23B in 2016, with Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) growing from $2.23B in 2013 to $5.24B in 2016.  The following slide provides a breakout of forecast categories by hosting and cloud business categories:

Why enterprises need a digital infrastructure playbook

The focal point of the summit was the launch of the digital infrastructure playbook.  Tony Bishop, Chief Strategy Officer, The 451 Group introduced the Digital Enterprise Playbook Series which you can download here. His presentation provided insights into how enterprises are struggling to align legacy IT, infrastructure including data centers, cloud, applications and system management to business goals while becoming more agile.

I had a chance to speak with Tony after his presentation and asked him why enterprises need a digital infrastructure playbook now.   “Digital transformation is breaking down the barriers to sustainable global prosperity by shifting power towards the individual,” he said. “This revolution will transform how enterprises create and deliver value. Digital enterprises will pursue and build dynamic infrastructure capabilities to innovate and differentiate customer experience, constantly empower employees and disseminate prescriptive knowledge across the enterprise.”

One of the most passionate and knowledgeable people I’ve ever met in infrastructure and IT research is Martin McCarthy, Chairman and CEO, The 451 Group.  He told me he’s seeing more pressure than ever for edge-to-core integration in the enterprise, which is forcing CIOs to be strategists over experts in cost reduction.  “Digital infrastructure will be the backbone enabling enterprise transformation in coming years. To blaze this trail, organizations need an ‘edge to core’ digital infrastructure playbook,” he said.   Presented below is a page from the Digital Enterprise Playbook Series:

IBM SoftLayer update

  • IBM’s acquisition of SoftLayer is going excellently and many IBM divisions now are actively collaborating with the Softlayer team to migrate existing apps and develop new ones. Thank you Lance CrosbySimon West and Andre Fuochi for the update provided at the conference, it was invaluable.
  • Softlayer will be the foundation for a global cloud services infrastructure capable of delivering applications across multiple continents and thousands of users within hours, not days.  Lance Crosby explained the vision IBM has of delivering a continual stream of new applications and services over the global cloud services infrastructure network, which has the potential to turn into a high margin business quickly.
  • Softlayer is assisting with making the IBM Request for Proposal (RFP) more efficient based on their deep expertise in this critical area. Based on personal experience it can take anywhere from several weeks to up to several months for an RFP response.  SoftLayer has devised processes and systems that make RFP response times a fraction of that.
  • The majority of the top ten customers Softlayer has today are running large-scale clusters of Hadoop, with 40 Hadoop clusters being commonplace.  Lance Crosby mentioned these customers are very sophisticated in their use of Hadoop and many of them are in consumer products companies, looking to gain greater insights into customer behavior.
  • Bare metal servers running Hadoop are one of the fastest growing areas of the Softlayer business right now.  Simon West made an excellent point that running Hadoop on bare metal servers instead of through virtualized environment leads to a higher level of throughput, given Softlayer’s internal testing results.  Bare metal servers continue to accelerate in the industry and Softlayer’s executives confirmed they are seeing an acceleration of demand in this area.
  • An additional six data centers are planned for 2014, and SoftLayer has the capability to build one data center every two months of needed.  When asked what the global expansion plans are for SoftLayer since the acquisition, Lance Crosby told me London and Germany are of primary interest.  He also added that whenever the demand for a given nation reached between four and five thousand servers, Softlayer and IBM will consider building a data center in-country.
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