What’s the Future of Enterprise Computing? Nick Lippis and Ernest Lefner Discuss at ONUG Fall

Enterprise Cloud 1.0 has changed the game for top-level computing, but like everything else in the industry, things keep changing – and quickly.

To keep up, enterprise customers are looking toward the next wave: the leap that could combine the disparate worlds of cloud and on-premises into Enterprise Cloud 2.0.

But what does that mean, exactly? What will digital enterprise look like once it has become the new paradigm? And is it capable of bridging gaps that left Cloud 1.0 wanting?

In the ONUG Fall 2021 keynote, ONUG’s Nick Lippis and Ernest Lefner introduced Enterprise Cloud 2.0 and how the new way of doing business can resolve some old – and persistent – problems with modern-day IT.

The digital consumer is a fundamental change agent changing everything within our industry.

For a remote workforce, interacting with the systems that they need to do their job has to be consistent, whether they are at home, in some distributed office, or whether they’re in some major headquarters facility, that’s got to be kind of common all across them. Right?

The Paradox of the Cloud and the On-Prem/Off-Prem Divide

When cloud computing came onto the scene, one of the major benefits was convenience. Cloud service providers promised the ability to scale up or scale down quickly and efficiently. They offered a way to operate without dealing with private, on-site hardware. They delivered more access to personnel, especially those separated geographically.

But with the cloud came a trade-off: the inability to provide the same security as on-premises IT – and indeed, an inability to cross that gap.

“There is a direct requirement to be able to drive control of these devices,” says Ernest in regards to on-prem infrastructure and their security controls. “And there’s a suite of activities you need to do in order to prove that these controls are being met. And the more disparate the more complex the infrastructure is, the harder it is to both plan to be consistent and provide evidence that you’re meeting those kinds of controls.”

The challenge is that at the moment, with Cloud 1.0, there’s no way to extend on-prem workload controls to public cloud providers. As Nick puts it, there’s no connective tissue between on-prem and off-prem that resolves the paradox and makes it easier for enterprises to adopt hybrid or multi-cloud solutions.

“Cloud providers do a really great job in providing agility and flexibility – in a word, convenience,” says Nick. “But despite all the convenience in the world, if you can’t control it, and control your brand and control your data, large enterprises aren’t going to bite.” 

Overcoming this challenge has been a key focus of ONUG. That’s why ONUG has devoted considerable time to building out the next wave: Enterprise Cloud 2.0.

How Does Cloud 2.0 Enable Today’s Digital Enterprise? 

The simplest explanation of Cloud 2.0 comes from Nick: “the building of connective tissue and controls between on prem and off prem.”

The process has come in three phases:

  • Phase 1: Moving away from an all-hardware infrastructure to a software-based infrastructure
  • Phase 2: Digitally transforming companies and developing multi-cloud solutions
  • Phase 3: Balancing the equation between convenience and controls to protect brands and businesses

This third phase – the current phase – is the focus of ONUG and other developers in the space who are trying to build that crucial connective tissue. 

At the heart of the push is the new nature of the digital consumer, who Nick calls “the fundamental change agent changing everything within our industry.” The move toward a more remote workforce has been a key driver of this need, but consumers of all types are driving more demand for consumable digital products.

But consumers expect and require consistency across all services. With such a varied mix of public cloud providers, private IT infrastructures, security controls, standards, and processes, the ability to reliably serve the need has been diminished. 

To answer, Cloud 2.0 has the task of becoming agile, getting more choices, more options to service these digital consumers. 

As Ernest and Nick point out, a solution will have to involve on-prem IT, which won’t go away due to risk. There’s also the issue of bringing assets closer to the cloud edge, not just merely accessing them (even in 2022, latency is still a thing). 

Cloud 2.0 will also need to be able to meet each business’s unique needs, while also providing commonality between all businesses. In practical terms, that means security controls above all: having all providers speak the same language to mitigate risk, protect data, and guard consumers and brands alike from harm.

At the core of this challenge, then, is constructing a critical piece of connective tissue that could be the linchpin around which everything else revolves in Cloud 2.0. 

That key component is CSNF, or the cloud security notification framework.

Is CSNF the Key Enabler for Enterprise Cloud 2.0? 

CSNF is the fundamental building block for Enterprise Cloud 2.0 on which the benefits of the new paradigm – better control, less risk, more flexibility, and fewer required resources – are built.

CSNF is necessary because of one simple fact: every cloud provider has a different, often proprietary, security notification framework, featuring different schemas and definitions.

According to Nick, these differences “drive a huge amount of cost and burden onto the consumers both in terms of tool bloat, and also that you need people who understand that particular cloud provider’s framework and how these tools are being used to ingest them and analyze them.”

Due to the sheer size of messages being run through the system each year – Nick estimates it’s as big as 200 billion trillion – creating the necessary connective tissue is something that can’t possibly be done without standards.

CSNF can provide a common standard across all providers – including hybrid/multi-cloud – that lets them talk to each other seamlessly regardless of how much a user’s infrastructure is cloud versus on-prem, all while protecting system integrity.

For large enterprises to fully embrace cloud-based computing, something like CSNF is absolutely necessary.

Of course, saying it can offer these capabilities and actually delivering on them are two different things. 

The community is becoming more aligned behind these needs, however, and the progress it has already made toward this end is remarkable – especially given how much the pandemic has disrupted the landscape and added more complexity in a very short period of time.

ONUG and its partners are ready to embrace the challenge. It’s exciting to see what form Enterprise Cloud 2.0 will take as it evolves, but one thing is certain: as times change, so too must the industry.

Check out the full keynote session for more details on the conversation between Nick and Ernest. 


Author's Bio

Joann Varello

ONUG Marketing