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What does 2019 hold in the world of cloud and telecoms?

(Image credit: Image Credit: Everything Possible / Shutterstock)

Last year swept by in a whirlwind, with technology solutions being core to keeping up with competitors, our preparation for Brexit, and new GDPR legislation changing people’s perceptions of data. These are solid foundations for contemplating what’s on the horizon in 2019:

Risk-averse organisations will get their heads in the cloud

Increasing numbers of companies across all industries have embraced cloud computing -- but some of the most prominent moves towards it have come from organisations that have traditionally been risk-averse due to the sensitive data they hold, such as legal, financial services, and public sector.

Last year, however, over one million credentials (opens in new tab) from the UK’s top law firms were advertised for sale on the dark web; Tesco Bank got fined £16.4 million (opens in new tab) for its 2016 cyber attack; and MPs warned (opens in new tab) that the UK is ill-equipped to combat cyber attacks against critical infrastructure.

Investing in multi-cloud infrastructure usually goes hand-in-hand with security investment, so 2019 will see more previously risk-averse organisations embrace the benefits of hybrid cloud technology, as this represents a safer path for the future compared to vulnerable on-premise data.

Cloud providers know their lifeblood relies on customers’ confidence in data security and service protection. In line with this, their investment in these areas -- along with certifications to underpin security and operation processes -- are paramount and, in many cases, significantly outweigh the investment an individual organisation can make.

Variety is the spice of life -- as hybrid cloud will show

Digital transformation abounds, embraced by the private and public sectors alike; however, those who overlook network transformation do so at their peril. Optimal digital transformation can be enabled top-down through the application layer, which serves as the interface between the applications and network, and bottom-up -- in short, platform and connectivity -- in parallel.

As cloud adoption continues to grow, so will the need to manage all the different swathes of data. The volume of digital data stored globally is expected to reach close to 163ZB (opens in new tab) (zettabytes) by 2025. Still, according to Gartner, cloud storage accounts for just a fraction of 1 per cent of all digital data, despite the rapid growth of cloud computing.

The challenge for CIOs will be to choose a successful hybrid strategy that harnesses the power of both public and private clouds to handle different workloads. For example, business leaders will strive to build that new killer app for their company to differentiate from the competition and drive market share.

Of course, these apps don’t exist in a vacuum and so, for organisations who might not yet be ready or capable of modernisation, it’s paramount to optimise the delivery mechanisms. This is why, ultimately, the real winners of 2019 will be those who successfully control access and management to company services without compromising on productivity -- which is where the power of hybrid cloud comes in.

Private cloud is commercially advantageous for non-variable workloads or where maximum performance and compliance is required. On the other hand, public cloud can be deployed to benefit the front-end side of operations such as transactional workloads and fast production environments, which take advantage of a growing set of features.

Lightning-speed data centres will accelerate network transformation

Linking all of this up are ultrafast data centres. Software-defined data centres (SD-DC) are already becoming the norm in enterprises that adopt cloud technology. With SD-DC, all aspects of a modern data centre -- networking, storage, CPU and security -- are virtualised and delivered as a service, through software and accessible via APIs.

The likes of kubernetes and containerisation are already at the top of Google's wishlist, the novelty of which is encouraging new developers. For other companies, these enable swift adoption of on-premise cloud capability and provide a more cost-effective solution for the traditional data centres. This alleviates pressure on IT, for whom automation and cost optimisation are key components of wider company success.

As such, transforming the traditional data centre to a SD-DC is crucial for cross-sector success. As 2019 will show, through the use of hyper-converged technologies, the core DC fabric and corresponding platforms can be optimised, with SD-WAN and SD-DC working in tandem.

As the hybrid cloud extends, harnessing the benefits of cloud management platforms alongside SD-WAN allows a closer coupling of the multi-cloud world, which enables a clear grouping of services. All of this underpins the application journey to deliver cloud-native platform architecture -- vital for hosting this new army of apps.

However, questions will have to be answered regarding the security and governance around such operations. Let’s not forget, people aren’t just using ‘the cloud’; they’re using Dropbox, Google Drive, disaster recovery systems.

The Minecraft generation will embolden the workplace -- yet bring new risks

Talking about technology -- from cloud to networks to the platforms they power -- is all well and good, but it’s important not to forget the human face behind these innovations. New data from the United Nations suggests that Generation Z -- those born after 2000 -- will account for 32 per cent of the global population (opens in new tab) in 2019. When combined with millennials, they’ll comprise over 50 per cent of the global workforce by 2020.

Otherwise known as the Minecraft generation -- because they’re not merely passive consumers of data; they’re creators -- these individuals will prove a boon to businesses, as they can take data to build models, identify patterns, and visualise real change. 2019 will see businesses transforming their operations to pave the way for this new generation of tech-savvy workers.

And it doesn’t stop there: coming up behind Gen-Z, the World Economic Forum estimates that 65 per cent of children (opens in new tab) who are now in primary school will eventually find themselves employed in jobs that don’t exist yet. Elsewhere, Dell Technologies (opens in new tab) predicts that 85 per cent of the jobs that will exist in 2030 have yet to be invented.

As well as driving change at an ever-increasing pace, technology is also expanding the scope of human creativity -- which businesses must prepare themselves for, whether that’s through apprenticeship schemes, coding clubs with local schools, or re-training current staff with contemporary skills.

There’s no doubt that nearly all industries will need the unique skills of the Minecraft generation and those who emerge afterwards. However, these digital natives harbour comparatively less concern when losing a bank card and often come with an openness on social media that’s ripe for social engineering scams. As such, organisations will need to re-focus their cyber efforts to account for the business risk that evolves with the new workforce.

Unquestionably, 2019 looks set to bring even more innovation than its predecessor. To ensure that such technology is genuinely transformational, the most ambitious organisations will align themselves with specialist cloud and network providers. No longer will businesses have to worry about digital transformation; they’ll be unstoppable.

Jonathan Bridges, Chief Innovation Officer, Exponential-e (opens in new tab)
Image Credit: Everything Possible / Shutterstock

Jonathan Bridges is Chief Innovation Officer at Exponential-e, having previously held the position of Head of Cloud. Recently, he spearheaded the launch of Exponential-e’s Cloud Management Platform (CMP).