What does the future hold for the evolution of the cloud?

28 Jun 2021

Paul Meehan. Image: HPE

HPE’s Paul Meehan discusses the evolution of the cloud and what it means for the future of cloud infrastructure.

Today’s IT landscape comprises a vast ecosystem of cloud and open-source software solutions. We’ve taken a closer look at the cloud landscape, including how much the market has grown over the last year and what some of the major trends are within the cloud space.

But what is the most important aspect of the cloud that businesses need to focus on? IT veteran Paul Meehan is the hybrid cloud advisory lead for Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) in Ireland with more than 25 years’ experience in IT and seven years’ experience specifically in cloud.

He told Siliconrepublic.com that governance and control are key to achieving success. “The beauty of public cloud is how easy it is to start using it and how many challenges it can solve,” he said.

“However, the checks and balances that applied to traditional applications in your data centres were not always enforced against public cloud, and things unravelled quickly from a cost and control perspective for many IT departments.”

He said it’s important to apply the right governance model whether you are working in the public cloud, the private cloud or a hybrid model. “If you are not sure where to start, engage a partner you trust and they can help you on that journey, but I firmly believe it is paramount that you carry out due diligence first or it will cost a lot more in the long run.”

How cloud technology has evolved

Meehan said in early days of cloud adoption, shadow IT drove consumption of cloud services. This was when IT systems were deployed by departments other than the central IT department, sometimes to work around shortcomings or increase efficiency.

Over time, however, companies shifted to software-as-a-service, or SaaS models, and in the last year in particular, the accelerated digital transformation for many businesses has led to the exploration of public cloud services and hybrid models.

“The first wave of cloud also proved expensive for applications with certain profiles. There is broad consensus that it doesn’t make sense to run everything in the cloud, so I don’t believe cost reduction should be the key factor in deciding whether to move workloads to the cloud, but it can certainly be important in deciding not to move applications,” said Meehan.

The evolution of cloud also includes wider projects such as the European initiative Gaia-X, which aims to build a federated European cloud infrastructure that guarantees data sovereignty for European customers and adheres to an agreed set of rules and policies around flow of data.

Additionally, Meehan noted the growth of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), which serves as the vendor-neutral home for many open-source projects, including Kubernetes, Prometheus, and Envoy.

The CNCF is driving innovation on a scale I have never seen before,” said Meehan. “I believe it will still take a few years for containers to become the dominant technology, as it takes time for applications to be re-written to run in container form. This is one disconnect I see where container technology is ready for prime time, but the time to modernise will take companies a lot longer.”

Future plans at HPE

Last year, HPE announced HPE Greenlake, a new cloud experience for its European market, with data centre solutions company Interxion Ireland. Earlier this year, the company announced a new hybrid cloud practice would be established at its Leixlip base in Kildare to help Irish customers with their digital transformation goals.

“HPE is investing heavily in Ireland, and the launch of the hybrid cloud practice here aligns with hybrid being the direction of travel for most customers,” said Meehan. “The practice will support offerings HPE brought to the market over the last two or three years, especially new solutions within our Greenlake portfolio.”

Additionally, HPE’s CEO Antonio Neri previously stated that every HPE offering will be available as a service by 2022.

“In the next three years HPE will be a consumption-driven company and everything delivered to you will be delivered as a service,” Neri said at a company conference in 2019. “You choose what you want, where you want it, and only pay for what you consume.”

Meehan said this means moving everything to a SaaS model “to mirror the simplicity of cloud administration and [we] are applying this to all our offerings, not just Greenlake”.

Jenny Darmody is the editor of Silicon Republic