Cloud computing, which underpinned the world’s economy, global supply chains, and remote workforces during the coronavirus pandemic, will continue to be an essential target for organisations looking for increased scalability, business continuity, and cost-efficiency in 2021.
The effects of COVID-19 will linger throughout 2021, as businesses will look to lay a foundation for increased agility. Cloud will take a key focus in this goal, given its benefits of improved accessibility, scalability, and flexibility. But those companies who view the cloud as a journey and not a destination will see more success.
This is because simply ‘getting to the cloud’ doesn’t automatically mean you’ll see improved performance and spending. Instead, the cloud is an iterative process of optimisation and creating security by design to match your company’s goals, both now and in the long term.
Enterprises’ technology needs have increased in complexity over the past year, as workplaces quickly became decentralised during the pandemic, with remote workers worldwide. At the same time, exciting new technologies are making it easier to instantly generate, process, and analyse data for better business performance. These operational demands are shifting how businesses leverage cloud computing.
The Emerging Technologies for the Cloud in 2020
Standardisation and increased compatibility are two signs of the maturing technology that now surrounds the cloud computing world. Like maturing technology, it comes with a host of allied technologies designed to work with the primary technology platform. A few such emerging technologies designed to work with the cloud are:
- HPC workloads allow workloads to be more portable and data streams more mobile. This elasticity of the public cloud accounts for a challenging market proposition.
- Google’s Anthos service, capable of running as smoothly on AWS or Azure as on Google Cloud Platform
- Now, cloud believers have the option of working in a cloud environment with wide-scale technology while preserving the security and privacy of an on-premise, private cloud.
- Cloud Computing Challenges Navigating the Multi-Cloud Landscape explains how multi-cloud combines additional technology benefits of the public cloud with the security aspects of a private cloud.
- Edge computing allows real-time analytics to occur very close to the source of the in-stream IoT data. Google took the bold step of unveiling Edge TPU to accelerate enterprise adoption of “AI at the edge.”
- Serverless PaaS, which enables high-performance business data processing without the need for expensive servers. As the cloud service provider manages all computing resources, it becomes easy for business owners to build their cloud-based systems. The most significant benefit of serverless: the cloud host executes snippets of code without involving developers.
- Data containers enable easy transference of applications and workloads between two different cloud setups. The battle of container platforms peaked with the assimilation of Kubernetes management at scale. But suppose the general assumption is that container management, and container technology use are two different business practices. In that case, adopting cloud services could increase with Amazon’s EKS, Microsoft Azure AKS, or Google GKE.
Cloud computing trends expected to loom large in 2021
According to Forrester Research, the global public cloud infrastructure market will grow 35 per cent to $120 billion in 2021 as the cloud continues to “take centre stage” in the recovery from the pandemic.
The aggressive move to the cloud, already proceeding at a healthy clip before the pandemic, will spike in 2021, yielding even greater enterprise adoption, cloud provider revenue, and business value. Forrester previously forecasts the public cloud infrastructure market would increase 28 per cent to $113.1 billion next year.
The percentage of worldwide IT spending that’s dedicated to the cloud will continue to accelerate in 2021. Gartner, the Stamford, Conn.-based research and advisory firm, projects worldwide public cloud spending by end-users will grow 18 per cent next year to $304.9 billion, up from $257.5 billion this year.
The pandemic validated the cloud’s value proposition. Using on-demand, scalable cloud models to achieve cost efficiency and business continuity provides the impetus for organisations to rapidly accelerate their digital business transformation plans. The increased use of public cloud services has reinforced cloud adoption as the ‘new normal’ now more than ever.
While software as a service (SaaS) still will be the largest market segment for end-user cloud IT spending – it’s expected to grow approximately 16 per cent to $117.8 billion — application infrastructure services (PaaS) is expected to grow at a higher 26.6 per cent rate to about $55.5 billion, according to Gartner. The growth in PaaS will be driven by remote workforces’ constant need to access high-performing and scalable infrastructure via modernised and cloud-native applications.
The cloud is being used to facilitate much of our remote work environments, so companies will continue to migrate workloads and begin using more PaaS resources to take maximum financial advantage of these somewhat forced changes. Cloud system infrastructure services (IaaS) spending is projected to increase 26.9 per cent to $65.3 billion.
Reshuffling Of The Big Three Cloud Providers
There will be a reshuffling of the top three public cloud providers in 2021, with China’s Alibaba Cloud displacing Google Cloud to take the No. 3 spots for revenue in the global public cloud infrastructure market. Behind No.1 Amazon Web Services and Microsoft, according to Forrester.
Alibaba’s cloud computing revenue grew 59 per cent year-over-year to $2.19 billion for the quarter that ended Sept. 30, driven by the acceleration in digitalisation across industries and businesses of all sizes in China, the company disclosed this month. Revenue from customers in the internet, finance and retail industries were the primary growth drivers.
Google Cloud’s revenue — which includes sales from Google Cloud Platform (GCP), Google Workspace (formerly G Suite) productivity tools, and other enterprise cloud services – increased to $3.44 billion, compared to $2.38 billion in the same quarter last year.
Google (Cloud) establishes itself as an enterprise-friendly cloud as its work has put into ERP (enterprise resource planning) workloads, analytics, and account management pay off in 2021. Amalgam expects Google Cloud to achieve healthy 40-plus per cent growth next year.
Amalgam, which estimates AWS has more revenue than its next three largest competitors combined, expects AWS revenue will grow less than the combination of Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure in 2021.
AWS will further its progress in providing services for operations management, building on top of communications, messaging, and operations services such as Amazon Chime, Amazon Simple Queue Service, AWS Chatbot, and AWS RoboMaker.
Although AWS provides the technology to scale, the larger Amazon company has a combination of processes, operations, and logistics that have led to meteoric growth. AWS can share more of the Amazon core DNA as services and software to grow the AWS business further.
Microsoft, meanwhile, will exceed $25 billion in Azure cloud revenue in the fiscal year 2021 — driven by secular market demand for cloud and partner trust that Amazon and Google cannot match and finally break out Azure revenue in its annual reports, Park projected.
Edge Is the New Cloud
Edge is the new cloud, and new edge vendors will trim 5 points from public cloud growth next year. In 2021, we will see new business models emerge that facilitate the deployment of edge, efforts by cloud platforms to compete, and AI and 5G facilitating the expansion of edge use cases.
Prominent vendors including Dell, HPE, IBM, and Intel are doubling down on edge with cloud-like solutions deployable to anywhere. Content delivery networks and data centre colocation vendors offer advantage compute services across hundreds or thousands of local points of presence.
Over the next three years, buyers will shift their cloud strategies toward the edge to capture all this innovation and become more connected. While public clouds will play a part, we do not think they will dominate, as their culture is based on massive data centres and tight control of the architecture, the exact opposite of what firms need to serve customers locally.
While the centralised cloud isn’t going anywhere, developments in serverless computing models and the creation of distributed service layers around the cloud are powering new real-time IT applications.
Enterprises are looking to the network edge to bridge the gap between the centralised cloud and end-users, providing low-latency application and content performance for all users, wherever they are working from. Integrating a distributed edge strategy within a broader cloud computing effort is key to continued innovation in 2021. Environments at the network edge that scale when needed, are instantly accessible, and consumed as a service are critical developments in this new paradigm.
There would be two pivotal ways the network edge will transform and expand cloud computing next year. By integrating the network edge into their cloud strategy, developers can quickly deploy services at the border without being concerned with the operational overhead of managing more infrastructure. With integrated development and deployment pipelines, developers can move application services and functions from the cloud into network edge locations. This will help create more responsive and dynamic applications.
Also, there is expected to see a more significant emphasis on enterprise network edge security and protecting users, services, applications, and data, as enterprises embrace distributed application environments.
Achieving high levels of security throughout the network edge and into the last mile of distribution is a crucial challenge for the enterprise. Security services will enable it at the network edge.
Artificial Intelligence Engineering
Organisations need a robust artificial intelligence (AI) engineering strategy to ensure their AI projects don’t fail. Without AI engineering, most organisations will fail to move AI projects beyond proofs of concept and prototypes to full-scale production.
AI projects often are not successful because of maintainability, scalability, and governance issues. Still, a strong AI engineering strategy will help the performance, scalability, interpretability, and reliability of AI models while delivering the total value of AI investments.
AI engineering makes AI a part of the mainstream DevOps process rather than a set of specialised and isolated projects.AI engineering stands on three core pillars: DataOps, ModelOps, and DevOps.DevOps deals mainly with high-speed code changes, but AI projects experience dynamic changes in code, models, and data, and all must be improved. Organisations must apply DevOps principles across the data pipeline for DataOps and the machine learning (ML) model pipeline for MLOps to reap the benefits of AI engineering.
In terms of governance and AI engineering, responsible AI is emerging as an umbrella term for certain aspects of AI implementations to deal with AI risk, trust, transparency, ethics, fairness, interpretability, accountability, safety, and compliance.
Multi-Cloud And Joint Cloud Provider Offerings
Next year will see the beginnings of multi-cloud and joint provider cloud offerings, as providers realise they can partner to accelerate go-to-market launches, capitalise on mutual strengths and “take on the 800-pound gorilla” that is AWS.
This idea was anathema to cloud providers for most of the 2010s, as the goal of having a cloud platform was theoretically to be the only platform that a company uses. However, as multi-cloud environments have started to develop, vendor competition has evolved, and massive cloud markets continue to exist, cloud vendors must reconsider how they go to market.
The Oracle-Microsoft interconnect relationship that started in June of 2019 is an example of a relationship that could be expanded to take advantage of Oracle‘s networking and Microsoft’s ML capabilities.
Rivals Microsoft and Oracle last year announced they were linking their clouds to allow joint customers to migrate and run their enterprise application workloads across Microsoft Azure and Oracle Cloud. The move was seen as a bid by Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft — the No. 2 cloud provider — and Redwood City, Calif., cloud underdog Oracle to better compete against AWS.
Serverless is the next evolution from monolithic application architecture after service-oriented architecture and microservices architectures. Serverless was among the top five fastest-growing PaaS cloud services for 2020, according to the Flexera 2020 State of the Cloud report.
Serverless is a true cloud computing paradigm, and it is hard to overstate how much it will impact how much cloud is consumed going forward. It is such a compelling model that applications will be designed and developed going forward to work with serverless, rather than serverless being set to work with the way we currently develop applications.
The industry already is on this journey with containers and cloud-hosted typical applications as they drive the need for applications to be made up of smaller components that can be given different treatments, including running in other locations.
Serverless is a boon for developers of all kinds.
Up until now, knowing AWS, Azure, or GCP capabilities was a vital requirement of a cloud application developer. These resources were in high demand. Going forward, this level of detailed knowledge is mooted by serverless, with the serverless interface in the cloud becoming the interface developers interact with, not the lower-level interfaces.
Automated Cloud Orchestration And Optimization
Cloud platforms will continue to develop automated cloud orchestration. Optimisation as the complexity of managing both the quantity and quality of interconnected services across applications and services overwhelms even the savviest of IT organisations.
Automated service and performance management must be one of the most important aspects of choosing a cloud provider in 2021. Companies may have to manage a hundred or more services from a single cloud provider.
The Growth Of SASE Adoption
Secure access service edge (SASE) will continue to gain adoption as organisations move past the quick response measures they enacted this year for their massive and unexpected increase in remote worker connectivity.
Pronounced “sassy” and primarily delivered as a cloud-based service, SASE is a network architecture that combines software-defined WAN capabilities and cloud-native network security services, including zero-trust network access, secure web gateways, cloud access security brokers, and firewalls as a service.
Many IT networking groups, unfortunately, found the strain and limits of their remote access VPN concentrators and, even after overcoming or addressing those breaking points, they next coped with emerging issues in their bandwidth constraints, lack of network segmentation, weakness in endpoint security solutions and various untrusted devices connecting to sensitive corporate systems. Wise IT groups will budget and start planning for a more converged and integrated cloud-based approach to remote machine, workforce, and distributed security technology.
‘Perfect Storm’ Of Data Privacy And Cloud Migration
Combining the coronavirus pandemic and an increase in cloud infrastructure will create the “perfect storm” for data governance and compliance in 2021.
Organisations will continue to initiate projects to ensure secure data migration to the cloud — i.e. encryption of all data required by the enterprise data governance team before their IT or data teams are allowed to move data from on-premises to the cloud.
Regulatory legislation around the world will move toward increased control of personally identifiable information (PII) data to safeguard consumer privacy, as countries increasingly follow the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
The latest politicisation of coronavirus data combined with the manually and bot-assisted dissemination of information and misinformation based on personal data leveraged out of social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter –portends the end of the ‘wild west’ of personal information on the internet and will begin a new era of consumer privacy.
In 2021, security, privacy, and governance will be embedded early in business processes. Developers and technical teams will incorporate these requirements early when building new systems. IT teams will invest in tools to secure access to data while balancing ease of use and performance. As a result, data security, governance, privacy would become table stakes in all IT strategy.