ADC Cloud Market: Spending Shifts Affecting IT, Business

If your organization is being shuttled between one cloud application delivery promise to another, it’s time to execute the harder decisions about the future of your business. The money is already on the move.

According to new figures from Gartner, “More than $1 trillion in IT spending will be directly or indirectly affected by the shift to cloud during the next five years.” In a July 2016 press release, Gartner research vice president Ed Anderson said that cloud-first strategies are even more critical for organizations that need to stay agile in competitive, fast-paced markets.

This shift in cloud spending — and the uptick of startups “born in the cloud” — is accelerating the roadmap for many organizations. Whether they’re ready or not.

From cloud-ready to cloud-native
As agility, responsiveness and scalability become more critical in the cloud universe, it’s important to understand the subtle differences in how technology vendors market their solutions. One of the major pawns of networking nomenclature is “cloud-native.”

So, what is it and why should you strive for a cloud-native application delivery strategy? One of the clearest descriptions comes from InformationWeek editor Charles Babcock, who explains its larger meaning.

“… Cloud-native means a lot more than implementing Linux clusters and running containers,” says Babcock. “It's a term that recognizes that getting software to work in the cloud requires a broad set of components that work together. It also requires an architecture that departs from traditional enterprise application design.”

In the same article, Babcock offered the thoughts of Cloud Foundry Foundation CEO Sam Ramji from the 2015 Open Source Convention (OSCON) in Portland, Ore.

“Cloud-native applications amount to ‘prescriptive software stacks’ designed to work together for enterprises that are too busy to assemble components themselves,” said Ramji.

“Cloud native means ‘rebalancing the roadmap toward user-driven systems’ that use standardized parts and follow standardized deployment and operational procedures.”

How to implement cloud-native strategies — but concurrently and effectively leverage existing resources and infrastructure — is the challenge, says Kamal Anand, vice president and general manager of A10′s cloud business unit.

“Cloud shift is an inevitable fact of growth, but organizations must still be strategic and logical in how they adapt,” said Anand, who was the former CEO at Appcito before A10’s July acquisition of the startup. “Proactive businesses should leverage multi-dimensional solution portfolios that will help them bridge traditional data centers with modern cloud infrastructures and services.”

In addition to pragmatic bridging efforts, organizations should consider how they will ensure the same application delivery and networking services are available across all on-premise, public, private and hybrid cloud scenarios. Stove-pipe or piecemeal cloud deployments may solve a temporary need, but in the long term the organization will sacrifice critical capabilities, app optimization, visibility, security, scalability and control.

‘Notoriously challenging’
Despite years of experience managing traditional data centers and more modern cloud infrastructure, the industry struggles to bridge both in a manner that is scalable, cost-effective and secure.

“While it may be easy for a developer to spin up a quick experiment, it is notoriously challenging to integrate cloud services with existing systems,” says The Next Web’s Prat Moghe. “And that’s just setting up basic services — never mind architecture, deployment, integration and managing the cloud.”

Less cloud talk, more cloud action
Many organizations must maintain existing on-premise infrastructure and applications while modernizing for a cloud-native world. It’s good to have this understanding, but it can paralyze organizations into doing nothing at all. And that’s a recipe for disruption.

These organizations aren’t helped by the application delivery controller (ADC) vendors either. The market has seen a number of delays from ADC providers that keep promising cloud-native ADC solutions and then under-delivering.

There’s a reason proactive buyers are frustrated. It’s both a business and technology problem that needs to be solved — immediately. Larger, long-standing and less-nimble ADC vendors lack the in-house expertise to actually innovate, develop and deliver cloud-native offerings.

Instead, they choose to bide their time by hiding behind appliance-based cloud solutions. Appliances? In the cloud? That’s certainly not the cloud-native innovation and solutions customers desperately need.

“It’s a complex challenge, but it’s one that comes with proven solutions,” says Anand. “In its simplest terms, organizations should seek a broad range of application and security services with the same functionality, regardless of the infrastructure. That’s it.

“With that understanding, a business can find a trusted partner that can deliver the functionality — like automation, orchestration, security and analytics — that meets the near- and long-term cloud objectives.”

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