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2020 forecast: Cloud-y with a chance of hybrid

(Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/bluebay)

It’s the beginning of a new decade, with new budgets and new business strategies. But one thing will remain top of all CIOs’ lists: cloud.

Last year, Gartner measured the enterprise architecture’s success and plotted its 2020 domination. It predicts that, this year, the market will grow another 17 per cent to $266.4 billion. Overall, global IT spending is expected to increase by 3.2 per cent, reaching a staggering $3.76 trillion.

Behind this growth is an array of new themes and strategies that are pushing cloud further up business agendas the world over. With ‘emerging’ technologies, such as AI and machine learning, containers and functions, and even more flexibility available with hybrid cloud solutions being provided by the major providers, it’s no wonder cloud is set to take centre stage.

So, what can we expect from this year – and the next ten? How will we see cloud capabilities develop?

The slow death of the container

With the likes of Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure enhancing and investing in their native Kubernetes support last year, containerisation has become an important pillar for cloud. While containers add significant benefits, including automating application deployment, improved scaling and overall management, they can be very complicated.

Most businesses don’t require the massive scaling capabilities and excess sophistication of Kubernetes. In fact, it can overcomplicate IT architecture and do more harm than good in certain circumstances. This year, I believe we shall witness a distinct move away from containerisation and back to PaaS native – the simpler, easier-to-use cloud model.

Cloud Wars – the hybrid edition

The cloud giants still have a serious fight on their hands. As the flexible multi-cloud model continues to increase in popularity, Microsoft, AWS, IBM and Google are recognising that the days of owning entire workloads are over. The war has now moved to the management front.

First it was Google with Anthos, and next Microsoft with Azure Arc – a set of technologies designed to bring cloud services and management to any infrastructure. These technologies promises to enable cloud clients to manage resources across on premises, and even into competitive cloud environments. As the battle shifts to this management plane, could we see a future where the major cloud providers outsource their datacentres as they’re no longer differentiating?

We can expect more of the same this year, as each provider follows suit to extend their developments. While the war rages on, it’s interesting to see how the customer has come out king – able to cherry-pick their favourite cloud capabilities through a hybrid architecture.

Think big

Cloud isn’t happy with almost world domination – it wants it all.

The last few years, cloud providers have worked hard to expand their geographical footprints.

In 2019, Microsoft became the first major cloud provider in Norway, investing in new Azure cloud datacentre regions across Europe.

AWS recently expanded to Hong Kong, and has already announced plans to launch a new region in Africa (based in Cape Town) this year. Spain is next on its list, as a new infrastructure region scheduled for launch in 2022.

Not only are cloud giants extending their reach to new territories across the globe, this year will see them add additional availability zones in regions that already have coverage. Microsoft doubled the size of its UK Azure regions in 2019 with availability zones, increasing computer capacity by a colossal 1500 per cent.

Big isn’t always better, but cloud providers are making sure they cover all bases with their new datacentre regions and increased availability zones.

Hybrid will reign king

Hybrid cloud provides businesses with the option to upgrade their IT infrastructure without having to migrate all applications to a public cloud architecture overnight. Rather than rushing in, organisations can tread a cautious path towards becoming cloud-first, offering a beneficial transitional state and the opportunity to plan the next stage of development. It’s commonly acknowledged that a full public cloud service is the end goal, with most organisations now acknowledging that it’s a case of ‘when’ not ‘if’.

The tide of businesses re-architecting their applications to be cloud-native, however, hasn’t materialised in the way many predicted. It’s a sad fact that re-developing apps can be time-consuming, expensive and unsuitable for legacy systems. Many businesses are either phasing them out or switching to new applications altogether. 

New functions, however, are developed in cloud-native forms. Legacy apps, particularly, are being targeted with cloud-first features, resulting in the applications themselves becoming hybrid. The benefits of hybrid are given; scalability, affordability, flexibility. 

Will this finally represent the seamless hybrid world we’ve been promised?

To surmise, a lot will change for cloud computing this year, but the key principles and features won’t.

A business’ IT success in 2020 will depend on their ability to grapple with skills shortages, overcome the challenge of legacy, and embrace new opportunities that cloud technologies will bring.

Sean Roberts, General Manager of Public Cloud, Ensono

Sean Roberts is the General Manager of Public Cloud at Ensono, leading a team focused on designing and delivering public cloud managed services to clients across the world.