Going to the Cloud in a Decentralized World

Five observations on the evolving cloud landscape at the edge.

The cloud evolution has now dominated IT industry conversations for more than a decade. Today, when combining the rapid explosion of data and the increasingly decentralized nature of computing, the cloud has become the central focal point for service creators hoping to achieve the new digital outcomes they desire.

And if operating through the COVID-19 pandemic has taught the IT industry anything, it’s that organizations that have embraced digitization were more resilient. They maintained stronger business continuity, and overall fared better through disruption compared to those that self-identified as digital laggards.

What remains true for both leaders and laggards is that the cloud is, and will continue to be, central to digital transformation—especially as the majority enterprise data moves out of the traditional data and to the edge. So, as we evolve in our increasingly cloudified, distributed world, let’s look at five observations to help inform your organization’s cloud strategy.

1. At Dell Technologies, our mantra is that cloud is an operating model—not a destination. Regardless of location, asset ownership or business strategy, cloud operating models are applicable anywhere and must stretch to place technology everywhere.

In fact, we are seeing the traditional hyperscale public cloud vendors acknowledge that the Cloud is not a destination. Dell Technologies has for years tailored solutions for the multi-cloud like the Dell Technologies Cloud Platform, to serve our customers in a private cloud, on-prem market slated to grow 57% by 2024.

2. We have reached the apex of centralization. Hyperscale datacenters have created hundreds of locations with hundreds of thousands of systems, but the pendulum is about to swing in the other direction where we will be managing hundreds of systems in millions of locations at the edge. Combining this new compute environment with the accelerated use of containers and microservices, the hybrid cloud future best positions developers and IT operators to manage, secure, and deploy their data when, where, and how they desire.

3. Unless we solve what Einstein called the “spooky action at a distance,” that is, to conquer zero latency networking through quantum entanglement, we will always face problems of latency.

Point of fact, it’s latency driving the growth of edge deployment. Consider the latency incurred when communicating with a central datacenter at a distance. Imagine an air traffic control system that uses visual inferencing to optimize traffic flows through intelligent signaling. A whole lot can happen on an airfield in those 100 to 200 milliseconds round trip time for a single packet to get from a local camera to a distance centralized public cloud datacenter. Reducing latency to its operational minimum should be the goal.

4. The future will operate in real time, and latency is the enemy of real time. Advanced inferencing systems must operate with such little latency that we talk about latency in picoseconds and nanoseconds.

Proximity is critical to operate real-time, digital experiences. Today, we already see examples of this in no-checkout retail stories, where in-store, real-time automation of digital promotions is delivered to our phones and sensors measure theft prevention…all processed on site. Now just imagine the experiences that are to come in entertainment, transportation, manufacturing, all in real-time, all requiring powerful computing within feet not across continents.

5. We are amid the largest application architectural shift in decades. According to IDC, by 2022 90% of new enterprise applications will be delivered via cloud-native solutions. By 2024, 500 million new applications will be built with cloud-native technologies. To realize our digital future, we will require massive amounts of software. As a result, we need to drive exponential increase in developer productivity. At Dell Technologies, we turned to VMware Tanzu to drive developer productivity and massively accelerate the beat rate of application innovation. The results have been impressive.

For example, our Dell Digital organization deployed 7,500 microservices running in production across six data centers providing 24×7 availability. The infrastructure incorporates VMware vSphere, 71,000 VMware Tanzu application containers and 28,000 Kubernetes pods. It’s enabled developers to build microservices by provisioning cloud services, containers, and virtual machines on their own. With a few clicks, developers provision resources, select cloud features on demand or move applications across on-premises and public clouds without porting. These automated, orchestrated capabilities have reduced development time from typically six months to a few weeks or less — an 85% improvement.

Our distributed future—from the edge to core to cloud—has enormous potential. But to attain it, we must harmonize our operating environments across clouds. Our Dell Technologies Cloud Platform, and VMware Tanzu enable consistent operations across locations and ready customers for this evolving world; to shift the focus from scaling systems within data centers to scaling to tens of thousands of locations with a single company. This new challenge will be a journey, but one we will embark on with our customers and partners toward the future of IT.

Matt Baker

About the Author: Matt Baker

Matt Baker is Dell Technologies’ Senior Vice President of AI Strategy. Working closely with the Chief AI Officer, Matt partners across the company to understand domain-specific use cases, building, define and standardize future architectures, and integrate AI across the product portfolio. Following his tenure leading the Corporate Strategy Office, Matt was asked to go deep into the world of data science and artificial intelligence, working in partnership with Dell’s senior leadership team to drive Dell’s AI strategy and to make this game-changing technology more accessible for everyone. Matt is an 18-year Dell Technologies veteran. In addition to leading the Corporate Strategy Office for two years, he drove the company’s Infrastructure Solutions Group strategy team for ten. He has also directed the strategy behind Dell Technologies’ Storage business and held a variety of product management responsibilities. Prior to joining Dell in 2005, Matt held a number of diverse roles at Intel Corporation over a 10-year span. Matt holds a bachelor’s degree in English Literature and Political Science from McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland.