Hybrid Cloud, IoT, Blockchain, AI/ML, Containers, and DevOps… Oh My!

AI(Artificial Intelligence) and smart factory. Abstract mixed media.

When it rains it pours. It seems regarding Enterprise IT technology innovation, it is common for multiple game-changing innovations to hit the street simultaneously. Yet, if ever the analogy of painting the car while its traveling down the highway is suitable, it’s this time. Certainly, you can take a wait and see approach with regard to adoption, but given the association of these innovations toward greater business agility, you’d run the risk of falling behind your competitors.

Let’s take a look at what each of these innovations mean for the enterprise and their associated impact to the business.

First, let’s explore the synergies of some of these innovations. Certainly, each innovation can and does have a certain value by themselves, however, when grouped they can provide powerful solutions to help drive growth and new business models.

  • Hybrid Cloud + IoT + AI/ML. IoT produces a lot of exhaust (data) that results in two primary outcomes: a) immediate analysis resulting in a directive to the IoT endpoint (the basis for many smartX initiatives) or b) collect and analyze looking for patterns. Either way, the public cloud going to offer the most economic solution for IoT services, data storage and the compute and services supporting machine learning algorithms.
  • IoT + Blockchain. Blockchains provide immutable entries stored in a distributed ledger. When combined with machine-driven entries, for example from an IoT sensor, we have non-refutable evidence. This is great for tracing chain of custody, not just law enforcement, but perishables, such as meat and plants.
  • Containers, DevOps and agile software development. These form the basis for delivering solutions like those above quickly and economically bringing allowing the value to be realized rapidly by the business.

There are businesses that are already using these technologies to deliver new and innovative solutions, many of which have been promoted in the press and at conferences. While these stories illustrate strong forward momentum, they also tend to foster a belief that these innovations have reached a sufficient level of maturity, such that the solution is not susceptible to lack of availability. This is far from the case. Indeed, these innovations are far from mainstream.

Let’s explore what adoption means to IT and the business for these various innovations.

Hybrid Cloud

I specifically chose hybrid cloud versus public cloud because it represents an even greater amount of complexity to enterprise IT than public cloud alone. It requires collaboration and integration between organizations and departments that have a common goal but very different approaches to achieving success.

First, cloud is about managing and delivering software services, whereas the data center is charged with delivering both infrastructure and software services. However, the complexity and overhead of managing and delivering reliable and available infrastructure overshadows the complexity of software services, resulting in the latter often receiving far less attention in most self-managed environments. When the complexity surrounding delivery of infrastructure is removed, the operations team can focus solely on delivery and consumption of software services.

Security is always an issue, but the maturation process surrounding delivery of cloud services by the top cloud service providers means that it is a constantly changing environment. With security in the cloud, there is no room for error or the applications could be compromised. This, in turn, requires that after each update to the security controls around a service the cloud team (architects, developers, operations, etc.) must educate themselves on the implications of the change and then assess how that change may affect their production environments. Any misunderstanding of these updates and the environment could become vulnerable.

Hybrid cloud also often means that the team must retain traditional data center skills while also adding skills related to the cloud service provider(s) of choice. This is an often overlooked aspect of assessing cloud costs. Moreover, highly-skilled cloud personnel are still difficult to attract and usually demand higher than market salaries. You could (and should) upskill your own staff, but you will want a few experts as part of the team on-the-job training for public cloud, as unsecured public cloud may lead to compromising situations for businesses.

Internet-of-Things (IoT)

The issue with IoT is that it is not one single thing, but a complex network of physical and mechanical components. In a world that has been moving to a high degree of virtualization, IoT represents a marked shift back toward data center skills with an emphasis on device configurations, disconnected states, limitations on size of data packets being exchanged, and low-memory code footprints. Anyone who was around during the early days of networking DOS PC’s will be able to relate to some of the constraints.

As with all things digital, security is a highly-complex topic with regard to IoT. There are so many layers within an IoT solution that welcomes compromise: the sensor, the network, the edge, the data endpoint, etc. As many of the devices participating in an IoT network may be resource constrained there’s only so much overhead that can be introduced for security before it impairs the purpose.

For many, however, when you say IoT…

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Peter Bordes

Exec Chairman & Founder at oneQube
Exec Chairman & Founder of oneQube the leading audience development automation platfrom. Entrepreneur, top 100 most influential angel investors in social media who loves digital innovation, social media marketing. Adventure travel and fishing junkie.
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