If the cloud is becoming the "petri dish of innovation" as AT&T's David Ohrn thinks it is, what can businesses expect to grow from it? For those companies looking to build out their digital transformation plans, Ohrn believes there are big new insights to be gleaned from artificial intelligence and analytics that can help in that journey.
Ohrn, the assistant vice president for product management for cloud solutions at AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), recently spoke with Light Reading about how businesses' digital transformation will continue to fuel accelerated adoption of cloud in 2018, and how cloud services provide companies with the ability to more effectively manage and utilize big data.
"The cloud industry is growing rapidly and the industry as a whole is expected to double over the next five years, and over half of IT spend is moving that way," he says.
Over 90% of AT&T's 3.5 million customers are "either actively adopting, or in the process of migrating, or even just managing certain components of their business in the cloud," adds Ohrn. AT&T has undergone its own significant cloud transformation, moving over 80% of IT workloads to the cloud, which Ohrn says will make AT&T more agile and allow the company to operate under "better cost structures than ever before."
As customers undergo their own digital transformations and cloud migrations, Ohrn says it's key to look at their overall network design, and anticipate future changes to that design as well as how security policies and procedures will change during the migration process.
In September, AT&T also responded to customers' increasing use of multiple clouds and need to share workloads or data between those clouds with a new cloud-to-cloud connectivity feature in AT&T's NetBond for Cloud product. NetBond users can now migrate workloads between clouds without having to manually set up two separate direct connections between clouds. Ohrn says NetBond has over 20 alliance partners and provides customers with access to over 130 cloud services or SaaS providers. (See AT&T NetBond Adds Cloud-to-Cloud Connections.)
As companies move to more multicloud environments, there will be also be greater need for managed services built on top of cloud service provider's respective environments to provide customers with more robust security platforms, AI and computing, or even machine learning services to analyze customer's data sets and extract key learnings, says Ohrn.
"As companies continue to rapidly adopt cloud, rapidly adopt AI technologies, the sharing and security of information will be critical to our greater success as a whole … There's been a lot of hype around AI but with cloud providing the ability to centralize data, we have a rare opportunity to analyze and evaluate that data more than ever before," says Ohrn.
One example of AT&T's foray into advancing AI technologies is with Acumos -- an open source AI marketplace, which provides users with the ability to run AI applications as microservices in multiple clouds. The goal of Acumos is to foster the creation of reusable AI applications to make AI more widely accessible and accelerate deployment of those applications. (See AT&T's Acumos: Transforming AI Apps From Snowflakes to Lego Bricks.)
For customers just embarking on their cloud migration, Ohrn advises those companies to take the time to do their due diligence in planning -- "don't rush it or force it," he says. Ohrn says it's critical for companies to evaluate their long-term cloud strategy, carefully map their infrastructure and assets to ensure they're migrating data and applications in a cost-effective way, and establish the right people and processes to maneuver through the cloud migration.
"Don't use the cloud to define your business strategy, but use the cloud to execute your business strategy."
— Kelsey Kusterer Ziser, Senior Editor, Light Reading