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What cloud strategists can learn from the cargo industry

What cloud strategists can learn from the cargo industry 

This analogy will help you see the full industrialization force put in play with cloud.

Starting point
The cargo industry started with a broad variety of customized packaging and transport systems. This generated a set of diverse systems with low transport and packaging commonalities between industries. In a similar way, hardware and software has been optimized together for different compute, storage and networking applications. This works fine as long as the market is predictable and the development follows an evolutionary route. Businesses exposed to higher volatility and disruptive technology shifts benefit from a building their business on a multi-purpose platform without horizontal integration of all parts.

Just as the cargo industry standardized the world around 20 and 40 foot containers, the cloud industry is built around global standards too. The number of standards is greater, and they are developed by various standardization bodies. By standardizing on an element level you create a platform for a powerful eco-system.

Combine and consolidate
The cargo industry combines and consolidates large numbers of containers in large terminals. Containers are loaded and unloaded from ships, trains and trucks at large terminals. Cargo with a variety of form factors and packages can be mixed in a single container and containers from different industries can be mixed on the same ship. The cloud industry combines a large number of standardized elements in data centers. By combining compute, storage and networking capabilities in different ways, operators can offer optimized support for different types of workloads. And like in the cargo world, the bigger economies of scale, the better.

Virtualize and disaggregate 
A central theme in the cargo industry is to decouple the cargo from ships, trains and trucks. Virtualized workloads and disaggregation of hardware enables similar advantages in the cloud industry. You can put any type of workload in any type of data center. It is the application and the required performance that defines how far it needs to be optimized.

Containers are locked and sealed from origin to destination. Security is a central theme in the cloud industry as well. The more valuable the cargo, the higher demands on the security capabilities. Security in the cloud world is moving from perimeter security to securing all data – not only to secure during shipment, but also at origin and destination.

With standardized containers and large terminals, you can start automating the cargo handling. The same applies for the cloud industry where the automation of workload management is vital for success. By reducing manual labor, you both reduce handling costs and the time it takes to execute loading and unloading.

Containers are good, but they can become great by enabling them with mobile chips for governance at container level. The global cargo industry also has strict import/export rules, which govern each and every container. The cargo industry has embraced this for environmental control, tracing, tracking etc. Likewise, the governance of the cloud is an important step that allows us to merge the best of the classic IT world with the speed, innovation and cost offered with cloud. With appropriate governance in play, shadow-IT will become a shadow of what it was in the past.

Predictions for the future 

If the cargo analogy is highly correlated to the cloud development, here are some things we can expect to see:

  • Standards on element level will play a key role
  • The best standards will evolve but be combined into large systems
  • Virtualization and disaggregation will enable broad market appeal without sacrificing on performance
  • Cloud security will gaining in importance and enable large scale application outsourcing and emerging cloud-based IoT applications
  • The largest fields of potential new gains are in the areas of automation and governance, representing a significant part of the possible value add
  • An analog to naming containers might even emerge as an alternative to virtual machines
  • Data centers and connectivity pipes will grow faster than the size of cargo ships and terminals.

Twenty-three of the world’s largest cargo ships were built between 2013 and 2015. Expect the cloud market to build on the same recipe where large and new play a significant role in the cloud industry.

Creative collaboration credits to MN whose reflections and insights created the foundation for this blogpost.

Source: Ericsson

Peter Linder-31Peter Linder is a Networked Society evangelist at Ericsson. He describes himself as a versatile visualizer, alliteration aficionado, movie maker and kinetic keynoter. His contributions focus on seven fields of market development: #SocietyShaping, #IndustryInnovations, #DeviceDiversification, #UnlockingUsers, #VersatileVideo, #NetworkNovelties and #BoldBusinessmodels. Peter joined Ericsson in 1991 and is currently based in Dallas, Texas.

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