Multicloud and “Supercloud”
Is the supercloud the next evolutionary stage of cloud computing?
More and more companies are accessing the resources of various cloud service providers via the Internet. It is all the more surprising that the Gartner market researchers estimate that three quarters of all companies committed to cloud computing are considering alternatives. Why? Because IT managers are increasingly complaining about how time-consuming and expensive it is to move data from one cloud to another.
We’re talking about multi-cloud here. With multi-cloud, an organization uses cloud computing and storage services from different cloud providers in a single heterogeneous architecture. A hybrid cloud can also become a multi-cloud if the company combines local cloud resources (private cloud) with several public cloud services. This is exactly where the problem lies: integrating the services of multiple cloud providers and private clouds is a major challenge, also because the clouds act as more or less interoperable silos.
“The prospect of simultaneously maintaining on-premises data centres, migrating to one public cloud, and then redundantly staffing for two or more additional clouds on top of that is a recipe for frustration and disappointment,” affirms Dr. Tim Wagner, CEO of Vendia. He comes to the conclusion that “despite these potential benefits, most businesses will not achieve a viable multicloud strategy anytime soon (…). It’s just too costly and complex.”
The concept of super cloud computing – the so-called supercloud – is now intended to remedy the situation. It stands for an IT architecture that integrates all service models: Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS). This is intended to create a new type of platform with which a company can separate all of its data – including on-premises and edge data – from being tied to an employee, an application, a server or even a cloud and can integrate it into a “larger whole”. “The supercloud offers a unified architecture for the management of all data, workloads and services,” explains Paul Salazar, Senior Director Central Europe at Couchbase. “This reduces complexity, accelerates application development and facilitates secure IT operations.”
Sachchidanand Singh, an analyst at IBM in India, believes that the supercloud architecture has great potential. Among other things, it enables application migration as a service across different availability zones and cloud providers; it provides interfaces to allocate, migrate, and terminate resources such as virtual machines and storage; it presents a homogeneous network to tie these resources together; and it offers a seamless experience across clouds and on-premises data centres. In short: it “makes developers and end user’s life easier.”
Tim Wagner advocates betting on the supercloud instead of relying on the multicloud in order – again in the words of Singh – “to create a layer of abstraction and automation that can remove the complexity of multicloud.” For John Graham-Cumming, CTO of Cloudflare, such a solution has long been a reality: “Efficient compute and storage, a global network that’s everywhere everyone is, bound together by software that turns the globe into a single cloud.” That’s already the supercloud, he says.
Not every market observer sees it the way he does. For Ned Bellavance, IT blogger and founder of Cloud LLC, “supercloud” is – in the first place – just a marketing term. David Vellante, co-CEO of SiliconANGLE Media and chief analyst at The Wikibon Project, sees in companies like Walmart, Azure, CapitalOne and Goldman at least “early examples of industry clouds that will eventually evolve into superclouds.” He uses the future tense, because the solutions implemented in these companies “may not all be cross cloud today (…), but the potential is there.”
For Devis Lussi, CTO of the Swiss FinTech company Yokoy, the supercloud is clearly a trend. But he tempers overly high expectations: “Unfortunately, building a supercloud is easier said than done, and most companies are not hyperscalers with the money and resources to do it. Worse, a pronounced skills gap in the new cloud order is preventing companies from reaching their own superclouds.”
In other words: the supercloud may be on everyone’s lips, but it’s still a long way off.