5 min

This week was an exciting one for the Telstra team as we took part in the annual Pacific Telecoms Council (PTC ‘17) conference in Hawaii where the world’s leading telecoms providers gather to discuss our changing industry.

Getting our heads in the (hybrid) cloud

As it has been for a few years now, cloud remains central to many of the conversations at PTC.

While we seem to have gone past the stage where cloud was hyped as the next best thing (Gartner has even omitted hybrid cloud from its most recent Hype Cycle analysis), adoption of hybrid cloud is still not universal. In a recent survey of senior IT decision makers in key markets around the world, we found that 45% of organisations are currently using a mix of cloud resources and on-premises non-cloud servers for their production workloads.

It’s not a simple task to transition from a legacy environment to a cloud environment. Organisations around the world are continually assessing their data, apps and workflows. Which data or apps should be in the cloud? Where do I geographically locate my data or apps to ensure they are available and secure while remaining compliant? How do I implement these changes to ensure cost-effectiveness and performance? And how do I manage all of this on an ongoing basis? It can be overwhelming.

One thing we have discussed with customers and partners at PTC this week is how Telstra is creating and curating solutions to help simplify the complex challenges our customers face.

For example, by bringing together our leading global network, our data centre footprint and our innovative cloud infrastructure with some of the world’s leading public cloud platforms like Microsoft Azure or Amazon Web Services, we’ve been able to integrate a curated cloud suite into our Cloud Gateway and Cloud Management Platform.

This creates a unique proposition for enterprises. Not only do we provide leading cloud connectivity to enterprise resources, but we are able to bring in cloud-based management alongside it under one framework. That creates more choice, more control and more confidence to embrace the cloud.

The forecast: cloud or fog?

While businesses implement hybrid cloud environments, they also need to consider the growing importance of ‘fog computing’. Emerging services and devices that leverage the Internet of Things (IoT), machine learning or machine-to-machine communications will need to process some queries and data faster than they are currently. This is because the speed of transmitting information to the cloud, while counted in the milliseconds, is still too slow. Consider self-driving cars: they will need to process information nearly instantaneously to be effective. Constant relays to the cloud for data analysis and decisions won’t work.

This is where ‘fog computing’ (coined by Cisco because it’s like cloud, but much closer to the ground) comes in. Certain processes will need to be completed in the devices that receive the information – such as cars, or connected home hardware – rather than wait for information to return from central cloud services.

Fog computing is not as far away as it may sound. At Telstra, we are already thinking about how we tailor offerings for the different use cases already identified. Emerging solutions such as Software Defined Networking (SDN) will be vitally important to tie the various hybrid cloud and fog networks together. SDN enables businesses to automate functions and scale bandwidth as demand requires, and therefore empower them to adopt the next evolution of cloud computing with confidence.

Changing realities

The theme of this year’s conference is ‘Changing Realities,’ and there is no doubt change in our industry will continue. Some of the long-hyped technology advances – IoT, self-driving cars, machine learning – are on the cusp of breaking into the mainstream. They will transform our realities again, and fundamentally help change the businesses and lives of our customers. We are excited about seeing what comes next, and about playing our part in enabling businesses to make the most of the opportunities on the horizon.