Enterprise public cloud adoption is becoming a norm around the world. Gartner expects public services cloud to hit $240 billion by 2017. They also suggest that the worldwide software as a service (SaaS) market will grow at 18.1% annually and the market will hit $46.35 billion by 2017 . In addition to traditional dev-ops applications, business critical functions, such as CRM and ERP, are moving onto public cloud infrastructure. The goal is to take advantage of the on-demand scalability, flexibility and cost savings associated with cloud computing.
However, to realize the full benefits of adopting cloud computing, organizations need to look beyond access to simple compute and storage. Performance and security must also be considered when making the public Internet a critical piece of your application delivery environment.
Cloud computing platforms are typically built on "big data-centers" in a limited number of locations. As a result, the user experience tends to degrade as those accessing cloud-based applications get further away from the data-center. Even users in the same country as the data-center are often subject to unacceptable performance and availability as a result of sub-optimal routing and the chatty protocols that govern the Internet. Further, a "mobile first" way of thinking has introduced many more challenges.
When thinking about your adoption of cloud computing, it's important to ask yourself these questions:
- Are your global users experiencing inconsistent response times and availability for applications or sites running on the public cloud or SaaS platform?
- Is this affecting adoption and hindering achievement of your business objectives?
- Have you taken measures to deal with application downtime caused by unplanned outages of the public cloud infrastructure?
How can we solve the performance problem? Solving this challenge requires organizations to find a way of getting their users closer to the information and optimizing the access paths across the public internet. This calls for a highly distributed architecture that allows optimization of website and application delivery to the application user from the cloud data centers. This requires combining optimized Internet cloud delivery platform like Akamai to your cloud infrastructure - public, private or hybrid cloud. Enterprises can realize significant gains in end user experience by overcoming slow response times and spotty availability. This leads to improved application adoption, increased productivity, better brand image and higher online conversions -all of which help businesses realize the expected benefits of their public cloud computing investments.
No discussion on cloud computing is complete without addressing the issue of security. In the past few years, security has been one of the top concerns of CIOs when considering moving enterprise applications to the cloud. Now that we are seeing better adoption of the cloud, does is mean security concerns have been adequately addressed?
For example, I met recently with an IT director of an OTT TV company. He told me they're planning to migrate to the cloud a token generation application that authenticates users and allows them to watch a video. Token generation is common practice in the OTT TV industry because it helps prevent competitive sites from linking to proprietary content and offering it to their audience without consent. Leveraging the cloud can help the company address the scalability required by their rapidly growing subscriber base as well as limit the need, and associated cost, of building out their own data center capacity.
Despite the real benefit of moving this type of application to the cloud, without proper planning, you may be at risk. Using the tokenization application example from earlier, if a malicious actor launches a simple volumetric DDoS attack against the cloud app, it could spell disaster for the whole video on-demand service. Fundamentally, the token is not generated when the user requires a video clip - because the app was overwhelmed, the customer cannot watch anything. It also renders all the security measures at the customer infrastructure useless - an example of the Cannikin Law , which says a bucket's capacity is determined by the shortest stave and a chain is only as strong as the weakest link. So the question is... have you extended all the necessary security measures to the cloud, making it consistent with your current enterprise security policy, so that no weak spot is presented? It is time to think about the right security architecture to protect your public cloud environment.
In summary, to realize the full potential of your public cloud investment, you need to consider all three aspects: performance, availability and security. Enterprises can focus on their core cloud infrastructure and related applications, while Akamai takes care of the rest, from cloud provider all the way to the end user, providing them the best performance, availability and security over the Internet.
 Gartner Forecast Analysis: Public Cloud Services, Worldwide, 1Q15 Update, by Ed Anderson, et al, June 17, 2015