After the tumultuous last few years, cloud computing remains a priority for organisations looking for business continuity, cost efficiency, and increased future scalability, which has proven potential power during the pandemic. Cloud computing bolstered the global economy, ensured continuity for remote workforces, and allowed supply chains to adapt.
With all this in mind, below I run through some of the cloud computing trends we expect to continue looming large in 2021 and beyond into 2022.
1. A Transition to Multi-Cloud Strategies
The big tech providers have a walled-garden approach to the ‘one-stop-shop’ services they offer when providing organisations with a solution to their computing needs. Moving forwards into 2022, we expect to see businesses continue to feel uneasy with putting all eggs in this proverbial basket, and therefore to continue expressing a preference for hybrid or multi-cloud setups.
Currently, the Flexera 2020 State of the Cloud Report shows that 93% of companies have a multi-cloud model, while 87% have a hybrid cloud approach. We expect to see these numbers continue to grow.
2. AI and cloud computing
According to Gartner's Top Strategic Technology Trends for 2021, organisations need a strong AI engineering strategy to ensure their projects don't fail. Gartner's position is that most AI projects would fail to move past the prototype or proof-of-concept stage without AI engineering.
We would certainly agree. AI is a critical enabler for adapting cloud computing technology to our needs. More specifically, cloud services can enable users with low skill sets and limited budgets to access advanced machine learning functions. With more AI engineering, cloud computing will make advanced toolsets more widely available – and this is good news for everyone.
AI engineering and machine learning (ML) does not just affect software – they also play a vital role in the processes that keep data centres up and running. In fragile and expensive environments, power usage, cooling systems, and hardware networks are all managed and monitored by AI algorithms. Therefore, improvements here could translate to increased efficiency, and thus even a reduced environmental footprint.
3. Hybrid working and virtual desktops
Workstation environments will increasingly be deliverable cloud-managed solutions to a desktop or laptop. Desktop-as-a-service platforms such as Windows Virtual Desktop and Amazon workspaces will become more popular. It will be an invaluable solution to the hardware limitations of a workforce moving towards a hybrid model.
The Anywhere Operations IT model enables staff everywhere, supports customers anywhere, and manages the deployment of business services across distributed IT infrastructure. With more people working on virtual cloud desktops, organisations will benefit from lowering upfront costs, eliminating hardware updates, enhancing security, and greater flexibility when people join or leave the organisation.
4. Distributed cloud
According to Gartner, public cloud companies are transitioning to location-independent distributed cloud services. In this setup, the public cloud provider maintains, operates, and develops the services but physically provides them at the point of need. It eliminates latency issues and satisfies privacy regulations such as the GDPR that require data storage in a specific geographic location.
There are many types of distributed cloud, including: on the premises, Internet of Things (IoT) edge cloud, metro-area community cloud, 5G mobile edge cloud, and global network edge cloud. These will all start to be adopted by companies, local authorities, and national governments in the coming years.
5. Cloud computing meets edge computing
According to Frost and Sullivan projections, about 90% of industrial firms will use edge computing, data analysis, and solution development at the data generation site by the end of 2021. It makes businesses more efficient by reducing latency, cost, and security risks.
The global roll-out of 5G technology can only supercharge this development, leading to a massive demand for cloud-to-edge applications. Many public cloud providers have started shifting workloads to intelligent-edge platforms. – such as HP, Nvidia, Microsoft, and IBM – who have all made significant investments in the fusion of Edge, 5G, and AI.
6. The rise of cloud gaming
More and more companies are offering gaming-as-a-service. Google, Amazon, and Microsoft launched gaming on-demand services in 2020, while Sony has had a solution for a few years now. This trend is expected to grow dramatically into 2022 and beyond as cloud technology improves and 5G comes online.
The advantages of cloud gaming are very similar to that of on-demand movie streaming services like Netflix. Users don't need storage space for entertainment libraries and don't require specialised hardware, which translates to lower overall costs. Cloud gaming also eliminates the piracy problem and helps developers generate more revenue by allowing gamers to play more than one game at a time.
It isn't surprising that Mordor Intelligence projects the cloud gaming market to grow to $2.7 billion by 2026, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15.3% from 2021 to 2026.
7. More regulatory control
We would be remiss in writing about cloud computing trends and failing to mention the looming avalanche of regulatory control. In the Trump era, Big Tech companies found themselves fighting lawsuit after lawsuit, and tech executives had a hard time even attending congressional hearings in the US. The security and data privacy implications of cloud computing must ultimately result in regulation.
To respond appropriately, cloud hosting companies in the UK and elsewhere will need to hire skilled data governance and compliance experts to ensure their firms remain on the right side of the law. Data governance and compliance will become critical areas of concern for CIOs and CISOs.
8. Skill shortages
Although right now it seems less of a pressing issue than a shortage of HGV drivers, cloud computing, as with all fourth-generation technologies, is at significant risk of its stalled momentum by the lack of cloud-native talent in the marketplace.
According to one survey from last year, 86% of IT leaders expected cloud projects to slow down in 2020 due to a shortage of cloud talent. Gartner projects that this trend will extend into 2022 with insufficient cloud skills delaying cloud migrations by as much as two years, if not more.
The net result is that more businesses will fall short of their cloud adoption objectives. Therefore, access to cloud-native expertise will be a critical determinant of cloud success. Gartner suggests that companies partner with managed service providers with a proven track record in cloud enablement and management. Naturally, we agree wholeheartedly.