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Public cloud adoption causing some big vendors to stumble

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Enterprises are adopting cloud which, in turn, creates more demand for cloud services and tools. But some vendors have not stepped up to the plate.

Public cloud adoption is becoming commonplace as many enterprises move their workloads to Amazon Web Services, Google and other vendor platforms. Among other benefits, cloud enables enterprises to become more cost-effective and more agile -- and, at this point, is pretty much "the only game in town" for enterprise IT, says David Linthicum, SVP of Cloud Technology Partners, a cloud consulting firm in Boston, in a recent podcast. With the rise of cloud users, there is increased demand for new services and tools. However, large legacy vendors face a choice: embrace change or be left behind.

In the podcast, Linthicum and Ian Moyse, non-executive board member at the Federation Against Software Theft (FAST), an organization that promotes the legal use of software, based in the U.K., discuss public cloud adoption and its effects on large IT vendors, such as VMware and Microsoft.

Where is the market today with public cloud adoption?

While people are adopting cloud at an increasing rate, because it is scalable, agile and cost-effective, "I don't think anything happens overnight -- it becomes a systemic evolution," Linthicum says.

"There hasn't been this wave of adoption that we've seen in the past [and] 2016 could be a vast change if 2015 is any indication," he says.

With emerging technologies, such as the Internet of Things, cloud has become a critical IT environment.

In some cases, organizations do not know they are taking advantage of cloud. They buy a product to aid their business and that product just happens to be cloud-based, Moyse says. Because of this, some cloud adoption data may be skewed. "I think more people use cloud than tend to report it," he says.

Still, all data points to increased public cloud adoption over the coming years. "I don't think we'll ever realize that it's moving forward," Linthicum says. "And I think someday, we may perhaps not even call it cloud -- it's just basically computing, the ability to leverage outsourced resources on demand and ultimately finding ways to be more cost-effective," Linthicum says. [2:50 -- 6:30]

Why will cloud adoption accelerate?

With emerging technologies, such as the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud has become a critical IT environment. For example, "people want things to [be] accessible anyplace, anytime on a mobile device … they just expect it now," Moyse says. "I've always said mobile is inherently linked into cloud because cloud applications fall into easier delivery for that method." Industries are seeing the demand and value of IoT and "we're seeing a lot of innovative devices and usage for IoT… and that again drives cloud usage," he adds.

Not only are new technologies being developed for cloud, but "we're also taking the existing legacy stuff and pushing that into cloud, sometimes whether it should be or not," Linthicum says. "But the net new stuff, which is really architected for cloud-native active applications, [is] ultimately where the value is going to be brought in the cloud." [6:34 -- 9:00]

What factors still inhibit public cloud adoption?

As with any new technology, security is always a worry. In Moyse's experience, the number one concern with cloud revolves around data security, privacy and sovereignty. Data protection is one of the most important aspects of any business, and any weakness can affect the bottom line.

"People are paranoid and justifiably so, in some instances, but … it's just like any other change when you are leveraging the Internet," Linthicum says.

The concept of moving your business to an unfamiliar environment can make any organization have second thoughts. But "once they've done it once, they're a lot quicker and more receptive to a second or third [cloud service] because … they've felt the benefit[s] and they've overcome that challenge," Moyse says. [9:00 --11:09]

Has public cloud adoption hurt any legacy IT vendors?

Not all enterprises have fully embraced cloud. For instance, VMware, a leader in virtualization, is facing challenges in its software business as organizations move to cloud, Linthicum says.

As more customers are using public cloud providers such as Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure, "[VMware is] becoming kind of the first, I think, victim … of the growth of cloud," he says.

However, VMware is not the only vendor affected. Other "big names," such as HP Inc., Intel, IBM and EMC, have been disrupted by cloud, Moyse says. "The whole market has turned on its head, you've got to adjust to that and put yourself in the frame of where's the market going," he says.

In VMware's case, it needs to redirect its efforts toward cloud as "it will be [the cloud] provider's choice of what platform tools are being delivered, and if VMware [doesn't have] their tools in there, they're going to lose out," Moyse says. VMware's, and similar organizations', greatest challenge is that they were not "born in the cloud" and they are forced to play catch up.

A company must reinvent itself in order to survive during any period of change. "Microsoft is a great example, I think," Moyse says. "It repositioned itself to being cloud -- no question about it."

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