2018 was an incredible time for cloud. Its impact on customer experiences, business processes and models, and workforce innovations was undeniable. We saw more and more use cases where customers started leveraging multiple clouds to enable innovation than ever before. But the landscape continues to change. Here are my thoughts about what’s ahead for cloud in 2019.
The Kubernetes ecosystem will grow and enable more innovation. We saw almost every major cloud player announce a Kubernetes service in 2018. As enterprises transform and modernize their technology, Kubernetes is rapidly becoming an essential part of these transformations, enabling speed in developing and deploying applications across both private and public clouds. As customers deploy Kubernetes into mainstream production environments this will nurture and grow the ecosystem around Kubernetes and drive innovation.
More nuanced approaches to leveraging legacy applications will emerge. Most enterprises will still continue to develop applications that stay on premises for a period of time, but now they will realize the business value in taking an on-premises resource and giving it a facelift with new capabilities that reside in different clouds. New technologies like service mesh and Istio will mature, support, and enhance legacy applications by binding to innovative services residing on other environments. As enterprises look to move forward with cloud, the looming task of altering or replacing hundreds of thousands of legacy applications is a huge cost and time investment. This is the year enterprises will need to recognize and address the glaring reality that it’s not just as simple as lifting and shifting applications; it will require careful planning and significant resources to effectively tackle the legacy application behemoth.
Data transparency across platforms will become an imperative. With businesses accelerating application development and deploying in multicloud environments, there has been a great deal of innovation around cloud management platforms that offer a degree of cloud abstraction and microservices. Kubernetes is a great example of this, as it enhances the ability to rapidly assemble, deploy, and version applications. While these advances have been critical to the journey to multicloud, there is still an issue of data and applications feeding on data. Whether due to latency, regulations, or data gravity, businesses have often been unable or unwilling to relocate large amounts of data. This reluctance has often been in conflict with the desire to deploy and manage applications across a variety of private data center, clouds, and the edge. In the coming year we will see a growing trend toward enabling applications from anywhere to access data from anywhere.
Work at the cloud “edge,” will push new requirements including computing storage, security, and analytics. The relevance of the edge will continue to rise due to data locality, low latency, and privacy concerns. Over the course of the new year, processing functions will move closer to the cloud edge and the data source to minimize latency on the applications. The proliferation of devices and the need for organizations to deliver almost real-time services is pushing the processing limits of every edge of the network. Enterprises will need to think about how they take capabilities beyond the data center, across WAN networks, and into increasingly smaller cloud edge deployments, closer to the end user or data collection point. Doing this will lead to faster decision-making, and faster innovation will result.
On-premises, managed cloud services will continue to gain momentum. The technology shift around the cloud edge will drive a business model shift driven by cloud providers. Given the importance of on-premises data centers, we will expect a natural balancing of workloads distributed across data centers and clouds based on business criteria. 2019 will bring new ways of offering on-premises, managed cloud services as both software stacks and appliance-like solutions, providing a highly prescriptive extension to the cloud into the customer environment as a managed service. We are just beginning to see examples of this including Microsoft AzureStack, Google Cloud Services Platform (CSP) and AWS Outposts. We expect even more from cloud providers like Google and IBM, along with a variety of smaller, regional cloud providers.
Investments in AI/ML around cloud will grow. Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) will be huge enablers of technology innovation. Enterprises will leverage AI/ML to improve business outcomes through insights, automation, diagnostics and cost optimization. Most enterprises will continue to invest in both on-premises as well as cloud-based AI solutions. During this journey, they will make it part of their strategy to consider how AI/ML fits in to their development lifecycles to drive further innovation.
Increased expectations that data center and public cloud operate as one. An important focus will be in creating fluidity of data sources between on premises and public cloud. Enterprises will see their private data centers continue to grow, while at the same time expanding their adoption of public cloud services. They will look to build common management and policy-based governance across their multicloud environments so they can simply and securely innovate, deploy, and manage applications at an accelerated rate.
Cloud is a major catalyst for changing how enterprises will do business in the emerging global digital economy and shows no signs of tapering in 2019. It is one of the ways many companies will future-proof business, deliver applications, and innovate faster than ever before.
What do you see on the horizon for cloud in 2019?