Covid-19 changed the dynamics of how businesses operate. Remote work is where it’s at, and it’s here to stay. We will never go back to working entirely from a shared office. Instead, most companies will have a mixed model — a hybrid model. The cloud has been key in enabling that.
Like the new work model, the cloud model is hybrid, too. Organizations employ public cloud resources and have private cloud data centers inside their companies. But the connection between private and public clouds is tenuous. Public and private clouds have different approaches to instrumentation, orchestration and provisioning. This leads to sub-optimal cost of ownership, security and compliance gaps, and latency and governance issues.
The best way forward is the distributed cloud. According to Gartner, “Distributed cloud creates strategically placed substations of cloud compute, storage and networking that can act as shared cloud pseudoavailability zones.” It adds that “By 2024, most cloud service platforms will provide at least some distributed cloud services that execute at the point of need.”
According to a Technologent blog post, “The distributed cloud retains technical, financial and operational benefits of the cloud while enabling greater performance, redundancy, security and regulatory compliance.” But to make this work, enterprises need a unified view to gain greater control over their costs, cybersecurity and governance. They also need to be able to leverage technological advancements to enable peak performance for applications.
How to do all of that is still evolving. But there are some steps that your company can take today to realize the potential of distributed cloud and improve business outcomes.
Plug In To Cloud Service Provider Extensions
The major cloud service providers (CSPs) today offer extensions of cloud services that can sit at your enterprise edge. Amazon Web Services offers Outposts. Google has an extension called Anthos. Microsoft provides the Azure Stack. Each of these CSP solutions is a bit different, but all of them “aim to synchronize cloud with on-premises deployments,” according to TechTarget.
They enable synchronization by providing APIs, a common workload deployment process and tools for centralized management and monitoring across on-premises and cloud environments.
Consider leveraging these CSP-provided tools to orchestrate your hybrid cloud workloads wherever they run — whether that is in your on-premises environment or in a public cloud.
The cloud provider’s shared responsibility model needs to enable distributed cloud governance, which is not possible today.
Process Bandwidth-Hungry Applications At The Edge
Computing is becoming pervasive. With IoT devices and wearable computing, everything is becoming smart. Smart things generate a lot of data. As I mentioned in an earlier article, people and machines upload 24,000 gigabytes of data to the internet each second. To analyze that data, it has to go up to the cloud because the computing and processing brain is still in the cloud.
This centralized cloud approach adds latency, so it’s not ideal for time-sensitive and bandwidth hungry applications that may require a lot of interactivity.
With the distributed cloud, computing is instead at your location, in your home, within your company. Now you can process data-hungry and latency-sensitive AI, IoT, productivity and other applications at the edge rather than sending all the data to a central cloud location.
Businesses can use the power of the distributed cloud to enable new applications and allow for better performance on your existing applications. This will help you contend with last-mile bandwidth issues that prevent innovative approaches to business analytics, IoT applications, smart devices, smart agents and more. It will also improve the user experience for applications such as multiplayer gaming and Zoom.
Increase Your Last-Mile Connectivity
Last-mile bandwidth is a huge bottleneck, so it’s critical to pump up your connectivity for better performance.
As 5G adoption grows, consider deploying a 5G picocell to alleviate bandwidth bottlenecks and support clouds at the business edge. As IEEE reports, businesses in a broad array of sectors — including agriculture, education, healthcare and manufacturing — will leverage 5G (and its ultra-low latency capabilities) for a diverse range of applications and use cases, such as IoT and industrial IoT.
5G is just one way to increase your bandwidth capacity, of course. If fiber-based last-mile connectivity is available in your area, look into whether it makes sense to upgrade your last-mile capacity with fiber-to-the-building, fiber-to-the-curb or fiber-to-the-home services.
Such fat-pipe services are not available everywhere, but they’re more widespread than ever.
Look Beneath The Surface
The cloud is here to stay, and it will continue to evolve to address changing and expanding application and business requirements. What we’re seeing right now is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of how computing will pervade our lives and enable our business outcomes.
Distributed cloud, with a cloud-agnostic approach, is the right architecture for a world in which smart devices are in everything and exist everywhere. Drawing meaningful conclusions and outcomes from these devices and the data they collect and generate will now be possible with the distributed cloud. That’s the vision we would like to realize in the near future.
This blog was originally published on Forbes.com. Link.