Q&A on Cloud Ubiquity with Ian Moyse
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Q&A on Cloud Ubiquity with Ian Moyse

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Published 04/09/2018

Q&A on Cloud Ubiquity with Ian Moyse

 Ian Moyse, Cloud Influencer and Sales Director at Cloud Telephony Provider, Natterbox, provides his insights on the ubiquity of cloud technology.

How does cloud connect Big Data, IoT and AI?

   Cloud to date has grown through the hosting of apps, delivery of SaaS based business applications and being able to do things easier and often cheaper. The next wave of cloud growth comes from new application uses such as Big Data, IOT and AI. These deliver new advances in technology and new end user experiences, powered by cloud back-end technologies and economies of computing power. Cloud makes these technologies affordable and available to the masses.

 
And how do drones and VR fit into this?

   On first impression you would look at drones and VR as consumer, non-cloud linked products. However, take another look and consider VR in business, perhaps used for surgeons to remotely diagnose and even operate on patients who cannot be moved and need immediate, highly expert help. Take Drone control with a VR headset, the two need to communicate in the most effective manner. We have a prime example from the USA where Drones are being tested in the rescue services- a hive of mini-drones using edge computing communicate with each other as they fly into a burning building to map out the fire, routes, and humans at risk, sending data outside to a rescue member with a tablet device. That tablet is linked to cloud data resources to extract building data, data about occupants in the building and perhaps data on any high-risk materials stored there. Cloud feeds many of the new technologies, sometimes in small ways, sometimes as the foundation of the overlying technology.

Is cloud the basic building block of digital transformation for enterprise?

Cloud has certainly been the instigator of digital transformation, allowing businesses to re-platform existing apps to a cloud and to shift to competing SaaS offerings. This instigator has driven businesses to deliver user mobility and anytime use of applications, and to enable the modern workforce. One of the biggest blockers to this transformation has been legacy apps, with architectures not easily lending themselves to an efficient cloud model. Often these become hosted versions of their old selves as a half-way house to remove the localised overheads of infrastructure management.

 

How does cloud enable AI?

AI has been developing for many years since Deep Blue in the 90s and its foundation as a term in the 50s. However it is now with cloud’s affordability of compute power that we are seeing a plethora of new emerging applications and products utilising AI in some form. Cloud has delivered the capability for AI to become mainstream and affordable to the masses.

What are the key challenges to connecting these technologies together?

In many instances it is as simple as bandwidth and connectivity reach. Cloud and applications, and devices such as IOT offer great new technology revolutions, but if they rely on the connection to work properly, they set user expectations that cannot always be met. For example, we have all experienced being in a remote area with no mobile connectivity. Many still cannot get the full high-speed broadband experience due to their location. Hence devices relying on communicating back to the cloud ideally need to act as edge devices, with some local processing and intelligence to be able to work and operate whilst attaining the next connection back to base. The other challenge we face is transference of data between applications, both cloud-cloud and cloud-legacy, to enable the required user experience. You may have experienced online services where the web font end and app looks great, but fundamental functions you would expect are not present, this is often because behind the scenes remains a legacy system that, whilst front-ended by cloud, is still unable to deliver or expose that function.

 

What are the limits of cloud to connect other technologies?

   The challenge I have observed for years with many cloud provisions is the lack of appropriate API’s to allow the data push/pull and integration with other products. PaaS and IaaS platforms, due to the nature of their function typically are very flexible in use, but SaaS applications often don't expose the APIs customers require, particularly when wishing to connect to legacy non-cloud applications. The choice of cloud often drives a need to go all in on cloud to truly get the maximum benefit. Take Salesforce for example, who have built a fantastic ecosystem of implementers and apps in the appexchange. Those who choose Salesforce inevitably expand their usage by adding certified apps into their base offering, thus expanding their cloud usage further and further.

Does centralising processes/storage via cloud create a single point of failure?

   It can do if architectured incorrectly. All cloud is not born equal. Cloud by definition does not mean you get a multi-tenancy, resilient system. Ask a cloud provider how many datacentres they have, are they hot or cold failovers? Are you replicated across them? Which do you get benefit from? And you may get very differing answers from varying providers. Many assume that using cloud is immediately of the highest resilience. People build systems and you may find one cloud provider with 8 global data centres all replicating and available to serve your users, or another provider with a single USA location, but you will only ever get to use the resilience of one. Where a cloud provider is delivering the truest of cloud, you will find you have no single point of failure.

 

Can the cloud ever be truly secure?

Can any system ever truly be secure? Whether physical or virtual security, it is all about being better than the intruder. For example, putting an alarm on your house and having window locks does not make you burglar-proof, it simply minimises the chances of the burglar selecting your property. Recent reports have shown the volatility of users, how many attacks still happen via phishing or malicious employee issues. This is not a cloud issue per-say. One can argue that in the cloud world, if using good cloud providers and configuring correctly, the threat of malicious penetration is reduced greatly due to greater security expertise and technology barriers.  It is a mitigation of risk vs benefit and hence why hybrid cloud is becoming popular, using public, private and legacy in house, mixing as appropriate to the sensitivity of the application and data.

What are the other risks of using cloud?

    Cloud has more upsides than risks. Of course there are the much debated security issues and with GDPR everyone is more sensitised to security than ever, which is a good thing. Clouds are not all borne equal and there is often the assumption to know what to ask to identify why one cloud provider is a safer bet than another. Often the bet is on big recognised names, who are not always the best in cloud. 

 

What are the risks of NOT using it?

  Getting disrupted and left behind by competitors. Millennials and Z’s will not put up with archaic systems and approaches for long in their career path.

    

How does fog computing fit into this picture?

    Edge computing will increasingly become essential in the IOT and evolving cloud world, certainly until bandwidth becomes consistent in ALL locations. Critical applications such as medical monitoring have to remain tolerant of losing any connection. With the increase of reliance on the internet and cloud, we can expect to go through a phase of frustration. 

What kind of applications do you see arising from these converging technologies?

   Technology is accelerating creativity and the capability to innovate. I expect we will see a rapid increase in affordability and more creative consumer technologies that wow us all. We are already seeing affordable cameras, phone cases with drones built in and cheap and simple IOT devices to remote control your heating lighting, etc. What’s coming is faster, more amazing tech at low prices that will surprise us all.

 

What's the future for cloud?

Cloud use will explode, but the term cloud will likely not, as the cloud usage is going to be increasingly hidden, embedded behind products and services. Extreme compute power and storage is available to anyone now at increasingly affordable levels. We have never seen a time before when compute power, storage and function has been increasing at such a pace whilst costs have been reducing in contrast. Everyone says this year will be the year of cloud, where in fact it will be the decade!

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