Is it possible to be in all places at once? Understanding the pitfalls of the distributed cloud
As the world becomes more comfortable with a hybrid way of working, it’s also becoming more comfortable with hybrid cloud computing. But what if a more ambitious way was emerging?
Imagine there’s a business that needed to move large amounts of data, but also needed to meet rigorous compliance protocols. Or what if a business was looking for support for edge computing, beyond what was just available? The next generation solution may lie in something a lot further from home — the distributed cloud.
What is the distributed cloud?
A distributed cloud is a configuration of several remote data centres that are connected together to meet compliance, performance and cost needs. Put simply: any cloud is a collection of several computers. The more users it has, the more computing power it needs. In a distributed cloud, users on multiple machines can multiply capability and work together, meaning the same workloads can be run on both a private and public cloud with less hardware. This experimental mode can help reduce the risk of single points of failure while maintaining a high security level.
A distributed cloud service is essentially a hybrid cloud that combines both on-premise and private, as well as off-premise and public cloud technologies. To manage consistency and stability, a distributed cloud environment is managed from a single control panel. It makes sure the differences and inconsistencies in different locations are handled with efficiency and reliability.
Should businesses be looking into a distributed cloud?
While CIO’s theoretically consider the distributed cloud to be the future of data storage, it won’t necessarily be a one-size-fits-all ‘solution’. Deciding if your business should consider a distributed cloud will depend on a set of very specific needs which can range from content delivery, through to compliance obligations, edge computing needs and scalability.
What future cloud technology holds is powerful capability. What matters most is understanding what you need that capability to do and how safe, reliable and manageable that capability is for your business.
Fair enough. But, hypothetically, if a distributed cloud was to be considered, what would the advantages be?
- Limitless availability. Cloud services can be completely separate from the primary system, even when it’s down, ensuring increased reliability and availability.
- Simplicity and flexibility. Distributed cloud capability allows for fast deployment of platforms, services, and applications across regions, users and devices.
- Real-time performance. Unlike a centralised network, a distributed one can provide faster processing and better cost performance.
- Compliant workflow. Its expansive feeder architecture means that regulated workloads can move more easily between regions while meeting regulatory compliance.
Whilst it has benefits, a distributed cloud needs to be balanced against security and infrastructure
- Complicated data protection. Dispersed data can present a real challenge to a business’s continuity plans. Ensuring that the right data remains in the right place requires a careful rethink of all business backup and recovery plans. When everything is distributed, so too should be how it’s managed. And that could prove complex.
- Bandwidth challenges. Bandwidth is the primary driver of a distributed environment. It’s not just about having great hardware and software — you need great connectivity to all of it. The challenge is that some locations may have less bandwidth than others. This might mean upgrading or expanding existing infrastructure or setting up new connections in remote, hard to reach regions.
- Security risks. Cyberattacks and threats are constantly on the rise and a distributed system with a large attack surface is especially vulnerable. To secure a distributed cloud environment, both cloud providers and their business customers need to ensure they have the latest security technologies, practices and know-how. To make sure your business is constantly up-to-date of the potential disruptive threats, download our free ebook, ‘Cybersecurity: Smart threats need a smarter defence’. It helps you understand these threats and how to better safeguard against them.
Why you can’t be in all places at once with a distributed cloud — for now.
The cloud is here to stay, and it will continue to evolve in response to changing business needs. The potential of a distributed cloud means that even more change is on the horizon. While new cloud techniques and innovative technology adoption rates are accelerating, there are still significant security concerns around custom cloud configurations, particularly those under the banner of the distributed cloud. So, businesses should do thorough research and analysis before making a commitment to distribute. The power of the cloud is having one true source. Can that true source be everywhere at once? That’s the question.