Most companies today deal with distributed operations, whether it is on local, national, or even international levels.

By Thiani Ramaya, BD lead at Westcon-Comstor Sub-Saharan Africa

When combined with an increasing number of cloud-based systems, the remote workforce is seeing business and technology leaders needing to adjust to a more connected way of operations than before. This is where the distributed cloud becomes an important concept to understand.

Think of the distributed cloud as the application of cloud computing technologies to interconnect data and applications served from multiple geographic locations. Distributed, in the context of IT, means that something is shared among multiple systems, which may also be in different locations. Essentially, this means that the company can leverage the high-performance computing capabilities of the cloud to service many (if not all) of its daily operational workloads. It also allows for more sophisticated technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning to be injected into operations at scale.


Coming together of worlds

According to Gartner, the distributed cloud brings together edge, hybrid, and new use cases for cloud computing. It represents the future of the cloud and addresses specifically the issue of location. While cloud does not restrict location, it is perceived as tied to its most common configuration, which is centralised. The distributed cloud turns that on its head.

It has the potential to turn the hybrid and multi-cloud on its head. For example, the distributed cloud can be used to create and deploy Kubernetes clusters, monitor the environment, make secure updates in that cloud, and bring with it a level of consistency that provides a core location to manage and compute resources anywhere.


Security concerns

Of course, one of the challenges that come with the distributed cloud environment is how best to safeguard network resources and activities when the security structure is equally distributed. Along with the distributed cloud is the need for distributed trust and security.

Neither of these is easy to embrace for traditionally-minded executives still adjusting to life in the cloud. And yet, the past 19 months have shown that it is possible to get the best of all worlds. Employees can still connect securely to the distributed cloud regardless of their geographic location, and they can still do their work, collaborate, and share relevant data with all stakeholders. The pandemic has highlighted that all this becomes possible when underpinned by a foundation of secure cloud-based systems.


Linking apps

However, applications have increased interdependencies, touching heterogeneous systems and infrastructure, as well as different toolsets and processes. Many are likely built or delivered with a combination of public cloud services. Adding to this complexity is the demand to deliver additional scale and efficiency while embracing complete macro-uncertainty.

But users do not care about the complexities going on in the background. They simply want an application experience that is consistent from wherever they are accessing the corporate environment. This means that the distributed cloud must provide companies with the ability to control all corners of their infrastructure, whether on-premises or private or public clouds.

This is key to delivering resilience and assuring application performance at scale. That does not mean looking for a new solution that can ‘manage everything’. It is about driving efficiency with modular capabilities that can offer standardisation across processes and teams supporting the individual initiatives that matter the most.


Policy approach

Therefore, delivering fast and available modern applications across the distributed cloud is instrumental for success. With the emergence of new multi-cloud and edge-based architectures, over 50% of enterprise-generated data will be produced and processed outside of traditional data centres or a single centralised cloud by next year.

This means companies must start realising that being distributed will become their new reality despite the complexities associated with going this route.

The ecosystem incorporating cloud computing and digital transformation has evolved beyond what one would have imagined it becoming a year ago. By recognising that this is a multi-cloud world and a ubiquitous digital one, a hybrid cloud will assist in solving the challenges of the future by disposing of the limiting assumptions of the past. It promises to enable true portability of applications across any environment along with the services they need to operate successfully, securely, at speed, and with seamless user experiences.