Cloud Transformation- IBM’s blockbuster acquisition of Red Hat for $33.4 billion to create a hybrid-cloud powerhouse signals a massive shift in the cloud-computing industry away from vendor-driven technology-first approaches and toward a customer-centric model that offers C-level execs strategic and high-value digital-business capabilities.
Just as Henry Ford is rumored to have said more than 100 years ago that car-buyers can have any color they want as long as it’s black, too many cloud providers in today’s world have boxed corporate customers into closed and proprietary cloud systems that also are unable to offer simple connections into traditional on-premises technology.
That’s because most first-generation cloud services were quite intentionally set up in isolation from not only those on-premises systems but also from other cloud services, partly in a land-grab effort and partly because the nature of first-gen solutions are by nature narrow, specific and fragmented.
But at some point, all those Balkanized clouds, and all that “old” on-premises stuff (that still runs most of the world’s business processes and manages most of its data), and all the competing new cloud technologies, and all that fragmentation exposed an underlying disaster for corporate customers: too much complexity, too much cost, too many limited views of their operations, and too much time wasted in trying to make all that incompatible stuff work together.
But the hybrid cloud approach pushed very aggressively by IBM and Red Hat as part of their announcement has the promise to take business leaders beyond all that waste and frustration because, as its very name implies, the hybrid cloud is specifically intended to operate across diverse platforms by deploying open solutions and technologies.
Cloud-market leader Microsoft has to date been the most-bullish and visible proponent of the hybrid cloud. More than a year ago, here’s how CEO Satya Nadella described the unified-architecture approach that underscores the hybrid cloud:
“We don’t think of our servers as distinct from our cloud,” Nadella said on an earnings call earlier this year. “In other words, this intelligent cloud and the intelligent edge is the architectural pattern for which we are building. Whether it’s SQL Server 2017 or it’s Windows Server, or the container service, everything that we do assumes the distributed computing will actually remain distributed.
“And it turns out that it’s helpful to think about it that way, both for customers who are rationalizing their portfolios of apps that the lift-shift modernizes to what they run in their data centers, or in our data centers, but also forward-looking new workloads.”
And I believe that business leaders are going to become extremely bullish on this hybrid concept because it very directly addresses their primary objectives and pain points—what’s the best way to move our applications and workloads to the cloud rapidly, cost-effectively and securely?—without asking them to spend a few more years and many millions more dollars untangling the series of Gordian Knots confounding their efforts to move rapidly into the world of digital business.