Digital transformation has reached its zenith at the start of 2020, yet the speed in which new technologies and trends move in cloud computing continues to be rapid-fire - understandably, it’s often been hard for businesses to follow.
With research heavyweights like Forrester, Gartner, and McKinsey all weighing in on this year’s top cloud game-changers, it can be difficult to predict the ones that will have the biggest impact.
At the same time, there are currently several big-picture cloud computing trends that have and will continue to grow in significance as the technology landscape matures heading into 2020.
Xello's team of experienced consultants have picked are our own top 5 emerging cloud computing trends set to accelerate our digital transformation in 2020 and beyond - and why you need to start preparing for them, as both a decision-maker and as a broader organisation.
#1 - Multicloud is the new focus - for both business and provider
The multicloud/hybrid cloud approach has been touted as the big game-changer for at least the past two years now, and while still in the early stages, 2020 is looking like the year businesses will begin to seriously deploy and leverage the proven capabilities of multicloud environments.
Because the 3 big public cloud providers - AWS, Azure and GCP - are making it way easier.
These platforms are getting ahead of the inevitable shift by building new agnostic technologies that enable and empower multicloud deployments - yes, even with their main competitors.
From Microsoft’s side, the introduction of Azure Arc, which acts as a multicloud management layer, will extend Azure to any other cloud platforms (public or private) that a company uses, like AWS and Google Cloud. Azure Stack Hub is also allowing companies to use Azure cloud services in their data centers.
Meanwhile, Amazon’s AWS Outposts will enable users to run AWS-based infrastructure on-premises for a multicloud or hybrid architecture in a similar manner to Azure Stack Hub; you can use the broader services and infrastructure of AWS in any colocation space or data center.
GCP is also expanding Google Anthos, a “new platform for managing applications in today’s multicloud world” which lets you modernise existing applications or build new ones using Google Cloud, and run them anywhere - whether that’s GCP, AWS, Azure or even a private cloud.
With VMware also strengthening its partnership with AWS and Azure to make the migration pathway to the public cloud significantly easier for businesses via Vmware Cloud on AWS and Azure VMware Solutions, shifting towards a multicloud model isn’t so far-fetched in 2020.
#2 - Security command centers are becoming vital to our clouds
According to IBM, 60% of IT decision-makers are rating security as the most important consideration when selecting a cloud computing provider - public, private or otherwise.
This year, it’s expected that the tools and capabilities companies need to uncover security insights, foster greater oversight over environments and response to incidents faster will come to fruition through the proliferation of new dashboards that help centralise security operations.
Tracking with analytics has been made even easier thanks to cloud-based solutions like Azure Monitor (AM) providing end-to-end monitoring for collection of granular performance and utilisation data from both cloud and on-premise resources in a single, user-friendly dashboard.
With continuous advancement in capabilities, businesses will be able to analyse and act on their data to proactively prevent and solve issues faster, and the emergence of DevSecOps - where security is integrated into the development process itself - is the reason IBM believes security command centers that provide better visibility into posture in one place is the next big frontier.
With multicloud also on the rise, there are also plenty of new solutions like Azure Arc allowing us extensive security management across multiple cloud environments in a single pane.
#3 - Traditional data centers to be retired in favour of public cloud
By 2025, 80% of enterprises will shut down traditional data centers and shift to public cloud.
More organisations are reevaluating where they develop and host their applications not just based on network latency concerns, but also geopolitical limitations, customer population clusters and regulatory restrictions such as Australia’s Notifiable Data Breaches (NBD) act.
While not everything is moving to the public cloud - the nature of certain industries often requires particularly sensitive data to still remain exclusively on-premise - companies with older data centers want to reduce their footprint further and are preferring to have them managed.
According to Gartner, the total IT budget spent on data centers has decreased over the last several years, accounting for just 17% of the overall spend. This is because enterprises with older and ageing data centers don’t want to invest more money in rebuilding them, or building new ones, due to the high capital (and rising) costs associated - compared to the public cloud.
2020 is set to be the year for colocation (hybrid cloud) to replace traditional data centers, as Gartner notes it offers higher availability, reliability and the ability for businesses to scale. Mission-critical applications and processes that need greater oversight and control stay on-premises, while all other workloads and initiatives are moved over to the public cloud.
#4 - SaaS is becoming increasingly intelligent with AI and ML
Whether you realise it or not, the cloud services we’re using are rapidly evolving with AI.
Software as a Service (SaaS) across the board, whether it’s our business intelligence (BI) tools like Power BI, communication platforms like Microsoft Teams or AI trainers like Google Cloud’s AutoML, are being bolstered by a ton of no-code and low-code Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) technologies that are enhancing our data-driven insights and automation capabilities significantly.
For example, Microsoft’s Power BI now has both natural language processing (NLP) and conversational AI voice capabilities integrated into its feature-set, allowing users to leverage new ways to explore their data and find hidden insights - and often it’s done in a non-intrusive way.
Chatbots, predictive analytics, basic ML model deployment and inference engines are ultimately becoming more common to find in our cloud software services; this will help make the broader acceptance of AI and ML’s usefulness in our future digital efforts that much easier beyond 2020.
#5 - Containerisation for app delivery is the new golden ticket
The rise of Kubernetes last year and its enablement of extending applications across disparate cloud infrastructures - i.e. multicloud deployments - has made modern cloud computing the ideal pathway for businesses to explore, develop and experiment with new digital technologies.
Containerisation of apps and software code (and their dependencies) into a single package cannot be understated in its significance, with over 70% of enterprises around the world expected to run two or more containerised apps in production by 2023 - up from 20% in 2019.
Instead of virtualisation, solutions like Kubernetes are allowing businesses to leverage higher availability, stronger security and greater scalability for their deployments. Apps that are containerised are faster than virtual machines, more flexible for application development, and one server can host more containers than VMs as it’s much more lightweight than the latter.
How to prepare for these top cloud computing trends in 2020
Cloud computing is a broad space that encompasses a number of key areas in every business; infrastructure, security, identity, data, AI, and more. It’s impossible to keep on top of every advancement or capability, but by understanding the disruption these trends introduce and educating decision-makers and users on their benefits, it will be easier to build your business strategy for future digital initiatives around the many opportunities available.
It’s key to view these trends in the lens of how they can aid your transformation efforts, rather than as just incremental technology upgrades. Otherwise, you'll lose opportunities to leverage the benefits of these new platforms based solely on cost or effort.
It's up to your decision-makers to examine the values these trends offer and determine the best way to implement them day-to-day, whether in-house or with the help of cloud-focused consultancies with professional expertise.