Given how fast technology is changing, we thought it would be interesting to ask IT executives to share their thoughts on the biggest surprises in 2017 and their predictions for 2018.
Here's article one of two of what they told us about their predictions for the cloud in 2018. We'll cover additional predictions for 2018 in a subsequent article.
In 2018, we predict increasing adoption of public cloud automation by small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). SMEs tend to have greater internal IT staff and resources than SMBs, but they’ve been faced with the ‘periodic table’ level of complexity presented by the myriad of technologies that need to be mastered in deploying and managing on a public cloud. The Azures and AWSs of the world, as well as specialty independent software vendors (ISVs), are stepping up to meet this emerging market need.
2018 is going to see a lot of heavy competition between the “big three” (Google, Microsoft, Amazon), but I think we’ll see some other vendors rise up as well. The biggest story we’re going to hear in 2018 is the “cloud native” story, coming from Pivotal and other vendors will start driving the enterprise migration from IaaS to cloud-native, PaaS-driven solutions on preferred cloud vendor technology stacks.
Integration will continue to be an important, yet underappreciated, factor of solution development going forward, especially as the major integration vendors of yesterday focus more on their cloud and data strategies. I think we’ll continue to see innovation in integration, just under new vendors and more open-source platforms.
Many companies have been thinking about migrating to cloud computing, a number of them have made the move but with small and low-risk applications. Now that cloud computing has proven itself to be a substantial improvement over self-hosting, this trend is now significantly accelerating.
The key trend going forward is that companies are evaluating their portfolios of applications and determining which of the "four R's" make sense for them:
Rehost (also referred to as “lift and shift”): This involves mass migration of the existing application to a different cloud-based hardware environment, without changing the applications themselves.
Refactor: This means running an application on the cloud provider’s infrastructure while modernizing some of the application code to fully take advantage of the cloud environment.
Rebuild: This involves completely redeveloping an application to take full advantage of the cloud infrastructure provider’s platform
Replace: This means discard an existing application and switching to a SaaS model
Much of the next year's activity is likely to be in the "Rehost" category, where companies try to take advantage of the cloud, while yet extending the life of their existing, and proven, applications.
We will see a large number of enterprises conducting massive migrations of thousands of workloads per enterprise into the public cloud. This is because of:
- Opportunity cost: Enterprises realize that if they can shift their resources away from maintaining and managing massive data-centers into focusing their resources on their core competency, they would be much more competitive in their respective markets, and eventually more cost-effective as well.
- Pace of innovation in infrastructure and services: There have been numerous enterprises that followed the above guideline but shifted to hosted data-centers (aka private clouds), versus moving to public clouds. The public cloud brings important operational efficiencies – The availability of countless new services that can be leveraged by the enterprise, the agility to expand or shrink quickly to keep pace with the needs of the enterprise, and the global presence and scale of public clouds that enables enterprise to run workloads anywhere in the world with reasonable latency
The majority of enterprises that will migrate to the cloud at scale, will employ a multi-cloud strategy. More specifically, they will split their production workloads across more than one public cloud. Why? Primarily, enterprises don’t want to be locked in.
- Cost: Cloud wars will result in cost wars. If an enterprise can get significant cost reduction on infrastructure, this can mean millions of dollars in savings a year.
- Functionality: Different clouds offer different innovation and functionality. Enterprises would like to use best of breed for the different workloads to take advantage of what all clouds have to offer.
- Compliance: Some industries (such as finance and healthcare, for example) are mandated to have an alternative cloud to run on. Others just want to make sure they can switch in case of security breaches, outages, or other issues that might affect a specific cloud.
Forward-thinking companies and enterprises will use a strategy that:
- Minimizes or avoid cloud-specific services: These would effectively lock you into the cloud. Instead, look for services that are available on multiple clouds and require minimal migration effort. Or, consider the impact of keeping the service running in its original cloud while running the related workloads on another cloud.
- Leverage cloud mobility technologies and architectures: employ techniques that allow for the simple and fast mobilization of workloads across clouds with minimal disruption to downtime or re-configuration/re-write efforts.
- Unified, cloud-agnostic management and configuration: Use orchestration and management frameworks that interface to the native cloud management systems but operate uniformly across clouds.
Amazon Web Services (AWS) will continue to be the market leader with Azure gaining more adoption, primarily due to O365 and the migration from on-premises Active Directory (AD) infrastructure to Infrastructure as a service (IaaS). Kubernetes will keep Google Cloud Platform (GCP) on the radar, but that isn't enough.
Serverless computing has been a buzzword prevalent in the last year or two. However, it has mostly been a buzzword. People have said they want serverless computing, but they haven’t yet been sure what that actually looks like. Use of tooling such as AWS Lambda is increasing, but best practice patterns and support tooling has been sparse or non-existent.
In 2018, serverless will become viable by the addition of services such as serverless container orchestration. Being able to run any container at any scale without having to provision servers is a very valuable capability that will become available in 2018 and will give a new impetuous to support serverless computing.
Serverless containers will become as easy to use and as prevalently available as virtual server instances such as EC2 has been in the past.
Looking ahead to what is on the horizon for 2018, we see accelerating the momentum of being more open and transparent through APIs. There are a few different sectors where you can see this really mobilizing. The first is in financial systems, with the catalyst of PSD2 adoption. Europe leads in privacy laws and this open initiative is forcing large financial institutions to consider how they would openly connect to the public market with transparent and secure APIs. Secondly, surprisingly enough, is healthcare. There has been a lot of shuffling not only at the policy level but also technically with new tools for people to integrate into like FHIR. Finally, the barrier to automation is so low that nearly everyone creates and interacts with integrations. Consumers have been given home devices that connect to Netflix, Google, Weather and Phone Contacts to automate personal routines. Those same expectations of connected, open data, are being demanded in the workplace. Combined with low to no code development platforms available, they now have the tools to do it themselves.
In 2018, In addition to the CAPEX benefits we’ve been enjoying, it’s clear that by fully embracing the services versus stuff mindset, we will begin to see big OPEX savings for enterprises as well. For the first time in decades, we will see scale begin to work for and not against us. The stuff as services model will yield multiple benefits on a myriad of fronts, but perhaps the most significant is the manner in which this move away from stuff, and reliance on monolithic hardware, and towards cloud services will raise the anchor that kept us moored in survival mode and chasing depreciating hardware. Instead, we will be free to iterate and innovate the kinds of content we are creating, consuming, and collaborating on.
“The future of the PC is about services, not stuff” – J.Tyler T.Rex Rohrer, 2017
I see the trend of organizations getting over their “security” concerns (most organizations have a false notion that their internal security is on par with cloud providers like Microsoft or Amazon) continuing in 2018 as organizations’ IT departments continue to respond to the rapid demands of the quickly changing business landscape.
More and more companies will seek to go cloud -- not always because it’s technically the right decision, but because more and more CEOs and shareholders will issue mandates that the company go cloud. These mandates will raise anxiety levels among the teams who must execute them. They’ll struggle with questions over legacy apps that need to re-architected or pulled apart into microservices. They’ll lose sleep over whether they have the staff and technical skills to accomplish it.
The cloud is a historic game-changer, but 2018 will bring additional pressures for the companies moving to it.
In 2018, machine learning in the cloud will enable organizations to capture, categorize, manage, and fully leverage all of their valuable information, while ensuring regulatory compliance. This will be enabled by the fact more-and-more companies will be moving more-and-more data of all types into the cloud. And, corporate legal and law firms will follow suit (no pun intended) and likewise move legal data into the cloud where it can be better managed, more securely and flexibly, at a dramatically lower cost.
On the Horizon For 2018: The edge is the next frontier — not just for telcos, but enterprises as well. Edge computing has already seen a strong push this year with IoT, smart cars, and other use cases pushing the envelope of what is capable on the edge. Every edge device needs to function like a small data center, with a minimal footprint, collecting vast amounts of information, but still deliver at the performance of central management in real time. Dealing with the scale, reliability, and distributed nature of edge computing is going to be a huge challenge, and we will see many new competitors jumping into this space in 2018.
In 2018, all companies will realize that future growth can only come from subscriptions.
Companies like Salesforce.com, Amazon, Netflix, and Box were the vanguard of the subscription economy, but the story is now far broader and deeper, and relevant to every industry.
In addition to providers of software, books, and music, companies in media & entertainment, consumer services, telecom & utilities, financial services, healthcare, education, farming and, through the innovations around the Internet of Things (IoT), even manufacturing and automotive are pivoting to or starting up as recurring revenue subscription businesses.
The next frontier for future growth is to build on established subscriber relationships through experimentation with pricing and packaging. According to the bi-annual Subscription Economy Index, usage-based billing - think the metered use on the New York Times website, where how much you read decides how much you pay - is a growth accelerant.
Companies with just 10% of their revenue coming from usage-based billing can see growth rates that are twice as high as their peers. That's a massive opportunity to amplify revenue and future subscriber growth, whether you're selling online news to millennials, software to enterprise CIOs or single-origin roasts to coffee snobs.”
In 2018, we’ll see hybrid cloud re-defined, maximizing test flow coverage. On-prem and cloud are becoming the de-facto model and with that, cloud test labs will need a more sophisticated control mechanism. Usage i.e. reports and labs optimization – more platforms, more blind spots require continuous optimization to assure market readiness. It will also bolster security within cloud development and testing as we are clearly seeing a rise in hacks and cybercrime – keeping in mind the importance of security within the DevOps pipeline will be important in 2018.
Hybrid cloud use will continue to grow in 2018. IT leaders will move beyond having a SaaS application and private infrastructure to building truly hybrid solutions with multiple cloud providers.
- Leveraging one cloud for compute, another (maybe semi-private) for active data and yet a third for longer-term storage.
- Many data protection and disaster recovery (DR) solutions leveraging the cloud for long-term archive (vs. tape) or on-demand compute for DR.
- Solutions like Azure Stack that truly integrate public to private cloud solutions
All are examples of IT leaders being more aware that a single cloud does not meet organizational needs. IT organizations will need to align workload/application requirements with best-fit cloud platforms versus just jumping into a single cloud.
In 2018, business communications will grow more connected through emerging technologies: We will continue to see a growing interest in cryptocurrency companies such as Blockchain for the communications technology market. Other emerging technologies once relegated to the consumer space, such as artificial intelligence, virtual assistants (like Siri and Alexa) and advanced messaging, will become more and more pervasive within enterprise communications, leading to a more seamless, connected style of work. The integration of communications APIs into existing business applications will allow companies to evolve in tandem with consumer preferences and competitive demand. Businesses will be able to seize upon new trends as they take hold, empowering businesses to strategically compete in their industries better than ever before.
- Kubernetes leaves Docker Swarm in the dust: By the end of 2018, Kubernetes will become the defacto technology that defines the center of a container ecosystem for all Linux containers. Now that Docker offers support for Kubernetes, Swarm will fall to become only the 3rd most popular orchestration platform behind maturing players such as Mesosphere.
- Microservices becomes the default architecture for most new digital enterprises: Currently seen as more of an architectural curiosity in 2017, microservices will turn into a production-ready giant in greenfield projects to become the default architecture of many new business initiatives.
- Service Mesh networking will rapidly become the new standard: and this is significant because it finally allows complex applications to be fully portable and to run anywhere
- Expect applications to move to the edge thanks to serverless: CDNs illustrated how content can be moved to the edge. Now, microservices and serverless technologies will enable applications to also move to the edge. This will include authentication, aggregation, and consolidation of IoT-generated operations, geo-load-balancing, etc.