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Five trends affecting the adoption of cloud today

(Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/Nattapol Sritongcom)

Cloud computing is firmly established as the new normal for enterprise IT. Across industries such as manufacturing and automotive, cloud continues to be one of the fastest-growing segments of IT spend. With greater spend, however, comes greater responsibility for CIOs to invest budgets wisely, and a bigger impact if things go wrong.

CIOs looking to prepare their organisation to succeed in the upcoming turns must take a differentiated approach to cloud computing. It will be essential for CIOs to develop a formal strategy that helps to put individual cloud decisions in the context of the enterprise’s strategic goals.

In the new era of cloud, cost optimisation will be crucial. Multicloud strategies will warrant provider independence and address concentration risk. The presence of in-house cloud skills will be a key indicator of enterprise agility, including the ability to distribute cloud services where customers want to consume them, on-premises and on the edge while staying secure.

These five factors will impact cloud adoption throughout this year and the steps that CIOs can take to thrive in a cloud-first world.

Multicloud will reduce vendor lock-in

For an organisation using cloud services across multiple geographies, finding just one public cloud infrastructure provider to meet its needs is a struggle. In organisations like this, the decision to use a multicloud strategy is clear.

In a recent Gartner survey of public cloud users, 81 per cent of respondents said they are working with two or more providers and by 2024 multicloud strategies will reduce vendor dependency for two-thirds of organisations. However, this will primarily happen in ways other than application portability.

Application portability is the ability to migrate an application across platforms without change, and it is seen as benefit of a multicloud strategy. The reality of business practices, though, is that few applications ever move once they have been deployed in production and adopted by the business. Multicloud computing decisions usually rest on three considerations:

  • Sourcing: The desire to increase agility and avoid or minimise vendor lock-in. The decision may be driven by a variety of factors, including availability, performance, data sovereignty, regulatory requirements and labour costs.
  • Architecture: Modern applications are, by design, created in a more modular style. They can span multiple cloud providers or consume services from multiple clouds.
  • Governance: To ensure operational control, enterprises want to unify administration and monitoring of their IT systems. They want to standardise policies, procedures and processes and share some tools — especially those that enable cost governance and optimisation — across multiple cloud providers.

Insufficient cloud IaaS skills will delay migrations

Through 2022, insufficient cloud infrastructure as a service (IaaS) skills will delay half of enterprise IT organisations’ migration to the cloud by two years or more. Today’s cloud migration strategies tend more toward “lift-and-shift” than toward modernisation or refactoring. However, lift-and-shift projects do not develop native-cloud skills. This is creating a market where service providers cannot train and certify people quickly enough to satisfy the need for skilled cloud professionals.

As consulting companies struggle to find a bench of talented people with relevant cloud skills, clients are falling short of their cloud adoption objectives. System integrators (SIs) are the fallback, but clients often do not trust them because many SIs are also still learning and struggle to scale their operations to meet demand.

To overcome the challenges of this workforce shortage, enterprises looking to migrate workloads to the cloud should work with managed service providers and SIs that have a proven track record of successful migrations within the target industry. These partners must also be willing to quantify and commit to expected costs and potential savings.

Improved vendor training will increase cloud security

Cloud security breaches consistently make news headlines. Yet, the stories of these breaches are often framed with vague explanations — a “misconfigured database” or mismanagement by an unnamed “third party.”

The ambiguity that surrounds cloud computing can make securing the enterprise seem daunting. Concerns about security have led some CIOs to limit their organisational use of public cloud services.

However, the challenge exists not in the security of the cloud itself, but in the policies and technologies for security and control of the technology. In nearly all cases, it is the user, not the cloud provider, who fails to manage the controls used to protect an organisation’s data.

CIOs must change their line of questioning from “Is the cloud secure?” to “Am I using the cloud securely?” to then focus on implementing vendor-specific training for their staff and apply risk management practices to support cloud decisions.

Cost optimisation will drive cloud adoption

Through 2024, nearly all legacy applications migrated to public cloud IaaS will require optimisation to become more cost-effective. Cloud providers will continue to strengthen their native optimisation capabilities to help organisations select the most cost-effective architecture that can deliver the required performance.

The market for third-party cost optimisation tools will also expand, particularly in multicloud environments. Their value will concentrate on higher-quality analytics that can maximise savings without compromising performance, provide independence from cloud providers and offer multicloud management consistency.

Teams need to recognise the need for optimisation as an integral part of cloud migration projects and develop skills and processes early to use tools to analyse operational data and find cost optimisation opportunities. Leveraging what cloud providers offer natively and augmenting it with third-party solutions in key to maximise savings.

Distributed cloud will support expanded service availability

By 2023, the leading cloud service providers will have a distributed ATM-like presence to serve a subset of their services for low-latency application requirements. Many cloud service providers are already investing in ways to make their services available closer to the users that need to access them.

This trend will continue as the granularity of the regions covered by these cloud service providers increases. “Micro data centres” will be located in areas where a high population of users congregates, while “pop-up” cloud service points will support temporary requirements like sporting events and concerts.

Equipment supporting an appropriate subset of public cloud services will be housed in locations close enough to the point of need to support the low-latency requirements of the applications that use them. This will enable applications with such requirements to run directly from the cloud providers’ native services without having to build infrastructure. The introduction and spread of ATM-like cloud service points can be thought of as a specific implementation of edge computing, which continues to grow rapidly.

In 2020, CIOs should consider how these trends will influence their cloud adoption and migration plans for years to come, taking steps now to prepare their IT infrastructure for the future of cloud.

Gregor Petri, Vice President and Analyst, Research and Advisory team, Gartner