Distributed cloud takes seed
The globally distributed cloud market will reach $5.0 billion by 2026 from $1.3 billion in 2020, growing at a CAGR of 26.4% between 2021 and 2026.
A distributed cloud computing model positions processes and serves data and applications from various geographies to meet modern requirements for high performance, low redundancy, and tighter regulations. It is public cloud computing running parallelly from multiple locations.
COVID-19 threw organizations into a different reality of hybrid work, and cloud innovation took on a critical role. Gartner believes that by 2024, most cloud platforms will provide distributed cloud services that execute processes at the point of need.
Gartner also projects that the cloud will account for 14.2% of global enterprise IT spending in 2024 from 9.1% in 2020. Additionally, enterprises will allocate over 45% of their IT budgets to the public cloud by 2024. The present cloud model in many organizations is hybrid, like the work model. Enterprises employ public cloud and host private data centers on their premises. However, the connectivity between the two is tenuous. The two take different approaches to the total cost of ownership, compliance gaps, security, latency, and governance issues.
Gartner projects that cloud will account for 14.2% of global enterprise IT spending in 2024 from 9.1% in 2020.
Distributed cloud makes a persuasive development in that servers and applications no longer rely on a centralized cloud infrastructure. Instead, location-specific data centers serve them for better governance and performance.
In May 2022, Google announced the general availability of Google Distributed Cloud Edge, a part of Google Distributed Cloud. A managed software and hardware portfolio enabling enterprises to run workloads at the edge.
The company already partnered with Bell Canada, deploying GDC Edge for their 5G core network functionality, and Verizon, helping them deliver edge services to enterprise customers. After the GA release of GDC, Google also announced other partnerships with Reliance JIO, TELUS, AT&T, and Indosat Ooredoo.
As noticeable players gain ground, understand the role of distributed cloud today and how enterprises reimagine the future.
Why enterprises are interested in distributed cloud
There is much for enterprises to gain here, such as:
Concerning country-specific data privacy regulations, distributed cloud retains data at the source. It simplifies compliance with transmitting and accessing personally identifiable information (PII).
When asked how Platfrom9, an open distributed cloud service, helps enterprises, CEO Bhaskar Gorti said in an interview, “companies can leverage the power of cloud computing within public clouds, private data centers, and edge locations to deliver greater business value with new use cases previously not feasible, enabling agility, ease-of-use, and scalability.”
Businesses can enable new applications and improve the performance of existing applications as they “process data-hungry and latency-sensitive AI, IoT, productivity and other applications at the edge rather than sending all the data to a central cloud location,” according to Anupam Sahai, Vice President, Cloud CTO and Solution Development at Unisys, for Forbes.
In a distributed cloud environment, if one system crashes, others step in as communication is routed to the next closest server, improving IT resilience.
Unlike a centralized cloud, a distributed cloud is cost-effective as it needs limited infrastructure investment, low maintenance costs, and fewer operational overheads.
Get on board
How enterprises can hop onto the enterprise cloud bandwagon
Integrate with cloud service provider extensions
All major cloud providers offer extensions of cloud services to place at the edge of your enterprise. AWS offers Outposts, Google offers Anthos, and Microsoft offers the Azure Stack. All these solutions are different but “aim to synchronize cloud with on-premise deployments,” according to TechTarget.
Run bandwidth-intensive applications at the edge
People and machines upload 24,000 GB of data to the internet every second. This data needs to be in the cloud for analysis. With the distributed cloud, latency-sensitive IoT, AI, and other applications process at the edge instead of sending data to a centralized cloud.
Running applications at the edge can improve user experience and allow further innovation.
Improve last-mile connectivity
According to an IEEE report, education, agriculture, manufacturing, and healthcare businesses will leverage 5G for use cases involving IoT and AI. 5G and distributed cloud can increase bandwidth capacity and boost connectivity.
Projections for the future of distributed cloud
Gartner argues that the distributed cloud will evolve in two phases.
The first phase will comprise the like-for-like hybrid arrangement where customers buy cloud substations to mimic a hybrid cloud scenario and prevent latency issues. Gartner says these users may not open up their substations to their geographical or industry-based neighbors. This enables a true hybrid cloud where public cloud providers handle everything.
Phase two will comprise universities, utilities, telcos, and city governments buying cloud substations and opening them for the community. This will ground the idea that distributed cloud arrives as the next generation of cloud computing.
In both the distributed cloud development phases, location becomes transparent and plays an integral role. The customer specifies to a provider the policies and latencies they need to comply with and lets the provider configure those transparently and automatically.
The trajectory for the evolution of distributed cloud
The journey and growth trajectory for distributed cloud isn’t straightforward due to various complexities, involvement of multiple ecosystems, and hierarchies of approval entities.
Another set of challenges includes setting up the custom scenarios for distributed cloud substations, payment settlement between neighbors with disparate bandwidth needs, revenue models across multiple companies for shared substations, and the possibility of variable connectivity of a distributed cloud substation.
As the future will witness the commercialization of 5G and a hike in sophisticated analytics, connected devices, flexible working systems, and video consumption, distributed cloud computing systems will increase in importance.