As the cloud market swells, an incoming wave of distributed cloud could underpin how businesses embrace emerging technologies.
"Cloud has absolutely proven itself during these times of uncertainty due to its ability to scale and deal with resilience and give us the ability to get speed," said David Smith, VP and fellow at Gartner, during the Gartner IT Infrastructure, Operations & Cloud Strategies Conference last week.
Flourishing at a 17% compound annual growth rate in the cloud market, hybrid cloud, multicloud and edge computing environments are setting the stage for a distributed model, but businesses strategizing for the future require a clean cloud strategy to realize the benefits, according to Smith.
"Public cloud is now the preferred model and it is definitely moving to become more ubiquitous, more distributed and enable all of the next big things including the composable business model," Smith said.
Gartner refers to composability as the real-time adaptability, resilience and agility of digital business. Cloud is also the baseline for many emerging technologies, such as the internet of things, big data, quantum and AI.
With distributed cloud, businesses receive public cloud services dispersed to different physical locations "while the control, the operation, the governance, the evolution of these services remain the responsibility of the public cloud provider," Smith said.
By 2024, Gartner predicts most cloud service platforms will provide at least some distributed cloud services that execute at the point of need.
Distributed cloud exists on a continuum and can include on-premises public cloud, metro-area community cloud, 5G mobile edge cloud, IoT edge cloud or network edge cloud. "The vision behind distributed cloud, I'm not going to say is limitless, but there are a lot of different places it can take us," Smith said.
"We're going to get to a situation where you would be able to go to a cloud provider and just ask for meeting certain kinds of requirements, rather than detailed configuration," such as compliance requirements, budget and interest in emerging tech, according to Smith.
Crafting a distributed cloud strategy
Planning for the future of distributed cloud computing begins with an adequate cloud strategy addressing business interests and needs.
A cloud strategy "is meant to be a concise point of view on the role of cloud in your organization," Smith said. "It is not a plan to migrate everything to the cloud."
The strategy includes a short, living document that sets baselines to ensure all business units are on the same page about cloud goals, Smith recommended. An executive mandate, IT-only strategy or an implementation plan are not suitable to a cloud strategy, according to Smith.
At large, cloud strategy is based on applying principles to inventory, making sure the business units understand available resources and avoiding decision-making based on hype and myth.
"Formulate your cloud strategy in context of your overall strategy," Smith said. "Never forget what you're trying to accomplish at the business side. Cloud strategy, at its heart, is applying established principles that you're going to come up with to the inventory."