One of the primary benefits of cloud computing is that it is supposed to centralize access to applications in a way that should reduce IT infrastructure costs. As it turns out, legislation around the globe is actually turning cloud computing into a global exercise for distributed systems.
Case in point is Amazon Web Services, which just added another data center facility in Frankfurt, Germany. Because of the “data sovereignty” laws being enacted in countries such as Germany, providers of cloud services have been building data center facilities all around the globe.
In fact, IBM just announced that it is extending its global SoftLayer cloud footprint with another data center facility in Paris and Intronis will shortly open one in England to complement its existing facilities in the U.S.
For many providers of cloud services, the data sovereignty issue has considerable cost implications. Rather than building out their own data centers, many ISVs, for example, are going to be better off making use of data centers that have already been built. SAP, for example, just inked a major cloud alliance with IBM under which it will deploy its SAP HANA in-memory computing platform on the IBM SoftLayer cloud.
The challenge, of course, is managing all the instances of a cloud application environment. The odd news is that putting cloud applications “in country,” eliminating network latency issues, improves the performance of those applications in their local markets. The tradeoff is that managing all those distributed instances of an application is not a trivial undertaking.
As more application workloads find their way into the cloud, IT service providers are going to be asked to manage that complexity. Quite often that will require the acquisition of new IT management toolsets. Most of the existing toolsets that IT services firms have at their disposal were never meant to manage distributed workloads at scale. They may not need to have people in every country where an application workload they are managing is running, but they will most certainly need a way to be able to manage and secure it. In addition, because of increased awareness of privacy and the capabilities of any number of nation states, it is more than likely the data that needs to be managed will be encrypted, which introduces a whole other set of data governance challenges stemming from the need to keep track of who has what encryption key where.
Managing IT in the age of the cloud is clearly going to occur on a global scale. That means it’s just as likely that IT service providers operating in Europe, South America, Africa, Australia, and Asia will be setting up operations in other geographies as it is for IT services providers in North America to set up operations on the respective continents. More often than not, many of these firms will initially seek to partner with one another. But as that trend continues to develop it’s only a matter of time before mergers and acquisitions of IT services firms on a global basis really begin in earnest.