Michael Segal

A Smart Data Approach to Assurance in a Hybrid Cloud Environment

Smart Data

Microsoft and Amazon both reported significant growth in their cloud businesses recently. Revenue for Microsoft’s Azure increased by a staggering 98 percent in the three months ending December 31st 2017, and market leader Amazon Web Services (AWS) saw an incredible 45 percent growth in the same period, far exceeding analyst expectations and accounting for around 10 percent of the retail giant’s annual revenue. With financial results such as these, there is no denying the extent to which cloud is now an essential part of today’s business landscape.

As companies everywhere undergo a form of digital transformation, enterprises and large organizations in particular need the scale and flexibility that cloud provides if they are to grow their businesses and remain competitive. As a result, more and more firms are choosing to migrate their services and applications to public cloud infrastructures, causing AWS and Azure’s revenues and profitability to surge.

To support their cloud strategies, many businesses are looking toward adopting a multi-cloud approach in which they can utilize a mixture of cloud services from different providers, such as AWS, Azure and Google Cloud. Nearly a third of companies worked with four or more cloud providers in 2016, and this number is only set to increase as more enterprises appreciate the benefits of a multi-cloud environment, enabling them to mitigate risks while leveraging the different advantages each provider offers.

Smart cloud

Increasingly, the growing adoption of multiple clouds is supported by the surging momentum for hybrid cloud solutions, in which public clouds are used to supplement an organization’s existing on-premise and private cloud infrastructure. Indeed, hybrid cloud has huge growth potential; according to a recent analyst report, the market is predicted to grow from $33.28 billion in 2016 to $91.74 billion by 2021. This momentum for hybrid cloud is in turn fueling interesting market dynamics; Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella recently described his company as “the hybrid cloud provider of choice”, effectively challenging rival Amazon to increase the focus on its own hybrid offering. This is liable to drive further innovation in the hybrid cloud space, as providers vie for market share.

However, as companies continue to shift towards this multi-cloud and hybrid cloud model, enterprises’ IT infrastructures will become increasingly complex. As a result, there will be a much greater need for pervasive visibility to assure global IT governance and optimize service delivery across hybrid cloud environments.

Visibility for business assurance

Continuous end-to-end visibility will be required across the increasing amount of data travelling back and forth in traditional on-premise and multi-cloud environments as well as over the wide area network between data centres, branch offices, cloud and SaaS environments. A 360-degree view of business services will allow IT teams to quickly identify any current or potential problems and rapidly resolve them before users are impacted. After all, with network outages costing large enterprises an average of $60 million a year, and with our business and personal lives becoming increasingly reliant on connectivity, companies can’t afford for there to be any downtime. To maintain a competitive edge, organizations must ensure they have actionable intelligence based on comprehensive visibility across their entire infrastructure, including all on-premise, wide area networks (WAN), and off-premise cloud environments, for full service assurance.

We are therefore likely to witness an increasing number adopting a smart data approach.

One of the biggest problems faced by IT teams is the large volume of unstructured data delivered at high velocity from a variety of disparate sources. Even when used with advanced analytics, this “random” data does not translate into actionable insight.  Smart data, however, is well-structured, contextual, available in real-time, and is based on end-to-end pervasive visibility across every aspect of an organization’s IT estate. Since every action and transaction traverses the company through traffic flows, or wire-data, it is the best source of information from which to glean actionable insight.

Enabling a business to obtain a top-down, detailed picture of its hybrid IT environment, a smart data approach will allow it to truly understand applications and service availability, reliability and responsiveness, and to troubleshoot service issues both in real-time and back-in-time.

Unlocking cloud’s potential

A business’s applications and services are at the lifeblood of its disruptive innovation and a key factor in maintaining its competitive edge. Business assurance is critical therefore, especially when these applications and services are deployed in a hybrid cloud environment.

However, the sustained quality of applications and services that leverage innovative hybrid cloud technologies will depend on the visibility that the IT team has of the entire delivery infrastructure, and the actionable intelligence this visibility delivers. By focusing on investment and understanding service and application dependencies, organizations will be able to dramatically mitigate business and IT risks.

With over a third of IT professionals naming ‘moving faster’ as their top goal for the year, an increasing number of businesses are looking to the cloud to improve their service agility and flexibility. We only have to look at the success of AWS and Azure to see that the cloud is the future. And, as more businesses adopt a multi-cloud and hybrid cloud model, taking a smart data approach will deliver the visibility needed to offer the assurance an organisation needs, and unlock the huge potential the cloud can offer.

By Michael Segal, Area VP, Strategy, NETSCOUT

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