The SolidFire booth stays busy at Cloud Expo Europe 2015
The SolidFire booth stays busy at Cloud Expo Europe 2015

It’s hard to believe how much Cloud Expo Europe (CEE) has grown. The first event was located in an upstairs room at London Olympia, not even big enough to warrant use of the main exhibition halls. Now CEE must be one of the largest shows in Europe, outgrowing Olympia and now hosted at Excel.

The growth of CEE underlines the clear market shift to cloud adoption, either private in your data center, public with a service provider cloud, or a hybrid mix of both.

Service provider cloud adoption accelerates

From conversations at CEE with both service providers and customers, there are clearly a wide range of cloud adoption strategies: 

  • Younger, smaller companies starting with fewer legacy applications and infrastructure, and thus able to embrace this shift more aggressively.
  • More established companies moving services such as test/dev and backup to cloud first, then quickly looking to move production services typically hard to set up, manage, and administer (VDI, for example).

As service providers continue to create new and increasingly sophisticated services, this transition will accelerate. Eventually, we will hit an inflection point whereby CxO’s will question why services are deployed internally at all.

Customers of scale with the appropriate resource and budget are looking to transition internal infrastructure from dedicated silos to shared infrastructure. They are undeniably becoming their own service provider, taking advantage of external service providers where appropriate, and adopting a hybrid approach to infrastructure delivery.

Managing the shift and jumping at opportunity

In today’s increasingly competitive business world, a focus on core competencies and skills that deliver business value must be top of mind with any CxO. If designing, building, owning, and operating IT infrastructure is not your core business, find someone to do it.

As for new services, it will be cloud by default. Internal, external, or hybrid cloud will be the only decision. The age of small dedicated silos for point solutions for the vast majority of services is over.

The challenge for the service provider is to build out and deliver differentiated services that will offer customers an option to move a wider range of applications and services to the service provider clouds. Key technical capabilities are underpinning this shift: non-disruptive operations, multi-tenancy, automation, scale-out, quality of service. Huge opportunity lies in combining these to give service providers the ability to write and deliver on meaningful SLAs to their customers within a cost framework that makes sense.

Economics of service delivery

For enterprises to consider cloud services, the proposition must be compelling commercially. For service providers to be successful they must leverage their scale. Building silos of dedicated infrastructure (managed hosting) and configuring services by hand will not cut it.

The economics of large, multi-tenant shared infrastructures does.

Building large multi-tenant shared cloud platforms brings its own level complexity. Automation and orchestration is a must, both from the perspective of cost but also from the perspective of repeatable quality. An additional critical consideration for building shared infrastructure is how to cope with hundreds, if not thousands, of tenants/applications competing for the same set of resources without impacting each other.

How many infrastructure consolidation projects finished up “unconsolidated” because applications could not play nice together in the same shared infrastructure?

Why SolidFire?

SolidFire is focused on these challenges, and the shifts they bring to storage. A validation of our success in addressing those challenges is that we have, in a short period of time, signed as customers many of the world’s leading service providers. Many of them exhibited at CEE, marketing their cloud services as part of the Fueled by SolidFire program.

It’s hard to believe this was SolidFire’s third time at Cloud Expo Europe. I vividly remember setting up our first stand in 2013 and can’t believe how much we have achieved since then.

But memories and technology aside, the focus here at SolidFire is to advance the way the world uses the cloud. Whatever your journey is to the cloud — private, public or hybrid — SolidFire will be in some way part of your destination. We look forward to seeing you there.


Martin Cooper

Martin Cooper is Senior Director, NGDC at NetApp. Based in London, England Martin is responsible of WW Systems Engineering for the NetApp Next Generation Data Centre business unit. Additionally, Martin leads the NetApp NDGC Office of the CTO group, NGDC Alliances, is a member of the NGDC Product Planning Council and NGDC business unit leadership team.

Martin joined SolidFire in December 2012, as one of the first two employees outside the USA charged with establishing the SolidFire business in EMEA and APJ. Martin led field engineering for SolidFire in these geographies. Expanding this role to cover WW teams as a part of NetApp after the acquisition of SolidFire in February 2016.

Prior to joining SolidFire Martin led the technical teams responsible for British Telecom globally at NetApp.

Before moving to the vendor side Martin spent 17 years as an IT practitioner at the international design consultancy Arup, where he held various leadership roles including Chief Technology Officer and Global Operations Director.

Martin is a Chartered Information Technology Professional and a Fellow of the British Computing Society.