Cloud technology trends and the industry surrounding it changes at lightning speed these days. And so, while other blogs might do an annual “looking forward” post at the beginning of the year, we feel this is not enough. We’re only halfway through 2019, and already the playing field has changed dramatically.
Which means that organizations cannot (and should not) wait until 2020 is here to get the scoop on cloud technology trends. And so what follows is our report, halfway through 2019, on the cloud technology trends to watch for before the end of the year hits:
1. Industrial Cloud Technology Partnerships
Both cloud technology and IoT have been buzzwords for some time now. But it has not been totally clear how to connect the two technologies to turn a profit for some of the bigger industries.
That has begun to change in 2019, especially in the auto industry, with two big announcements: Volkswagen’s partnership with Amazon Web Services (AWS) and BMW’s partnership with Microsoft. Both partnerships seek to harness and leverage the massive amounts of data that these automakers are creating through connected devices throughout their plants—the ultimate goal being to improve production processes and logistics.
Such deals are likely the tip of the iceberg, as manufacturers turn to AI and cloud technology to make sense of their data and allocate resources efficiently.
2. More Companies Going Multi-Cloud to Take Advantage of Capabilities, Find Efficiencies
Organizations are not simply looking for reliability and stability in their platforms, but analysis and intelligence. This drove consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble to add Google cloud to its existing cloud partnerships in an effort to hedge their bets when it came to cloud providers. Specifically, a spokesperson from P&G stated that the company “is looking to become more efficient in use of multiple providers as a way to bring down costs and make analytical insights more efficient.”
This goes beyond the mere cost of storage and processing. Big businesses like P&G have been hungry for algorithm-enabled insights, gathered from fine-grained data collected worldwide and delivered in near-real time. The cloud platform that figures out how to deliver these best will get an increasing share of IT budgets from these large companies.
That does not mean these companies are putting all of their proverbial eggs in one basket, however. The strategy seems to be one of “wait and see,” adopting multiple cloud platforms to see which ones continue to develop innovative products while reining in costs. We predict, then, that most large companies will turn to a multi-cloud strategy in the coming years, if they haven’t already.
We also predict that multi-cloud management tools (such as TRiA) will become more widely adopted as companies look for ways to manage their multi-cloud environments and respond nimbly to changing market conditions.
3. Google Enters the Multi-Cloud Management Arena
At its Google Cloud Next ’19 conference held in April, Google announced the launch of Anthos, a product being advertised as a hybrid-cloud and multi-cloud tool (read about the difference between the two).
The idea is to let organizations deploy and manage applications on various cloud platforms, including public cloud platforms like Azure, AWS, and of course, Google’s own cloud platform. Google has stated that it can allow applications to run unmodified for the cloud, allowing organizations to bring in older legacy applications and run them directly in the cloud.
While the product is being touted as the “true route to multi-cloud,” the emphasis appears to be on transitioning hybrid-cloud users, not on truly managing multiple clouds. Indeed, the hype surrounding Anthos seems to be completely ignoring the fact that there are many multi-cloud management tools on the market already, and with capabilities far beyond what is being advertised with Anthos.
Which leads us to predict that, while Google’s tool will help accelerate the cloud transformation of many enterprise organizations (and give Google a much bigger slice of the enterprise cloud pie), there will still be room for effective tools to efficiently leverage multiple clouds. There will likely be a contraction of this market once the honeymoon period is over.
4. The Rise of FinOps
By some estimates, cloud adoption reached near-total market penetration in 2018, with around 96% of enterprises using the cloud to some extent, and 81% of companies deploying a multi-cloud environment. Yet, cost is still the #1 concern for cloud managers and teams .
Enter FinOps, a hybrid financial discipline and tech solution designed to optimize how enterprise organizations spend their money on cloud technology. A large part of FinOps involves helping enterprises better forecast and plan around their spending on cloud resources.
With DevOps becoming more and more common, engineering teams are being tasked with making financial decisions on-the-fly. But too often, they are not given the time or the tools needed to figure out the most efficient ways to spend budgets. Financial teams, for their part, struggled to stay up-to-date with the products and services being purchased, or the rules for automating such purchases.
This need has been so pressing that, in February of 2019, several industry leaders got together and formed the FinOps Foundation, a nonprofit trade association focused on codifying and promoting cloud financial management best practices and standards.
We predict a growing role for “FinOps” experts, both internally and as a critical part of vendor teams. Introducing internal DevOps teams to the tools needed to manage IT costs on the fly will be a huge priority for both throughout the rest of 2019 and beyond.
5. Growth of Cloud Security Concerns—and Solutions
One of the biggest points of resistance to cloud adoption has traditionally been concerns over security. With cloud adoption nearly ubiquitous, it seems that businesses have gotten over these concerns.
But anyone in security can tell you that, no matter how secure technology is, the fight is always an ongoing one. Some of the security threats that cloud experts prepare for today include:
- Data breaches of cloud storage
- Insecure application programming interfaces (APIs)
- Poor encryption/unencrypted devices connected to cloud
- Weak credentials management
- Failure to use multi-factor authentication
- Account hijacks
- Increasingly sophisticated malware
- Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs)
Most cloud platforms offer robust protection features to help mitigate most or all of these threats. But these still loom large in the cloud, not because of the technology, but because of the knowledge and experience needed for proper administration. The odds of having a misconfigured cloud environment are much greater than the odds of having a vulnerable traditional environment, simply because most IT teams know how to secure an in-prem environment but lack the needed cloud-specific skills.
Teams also struggle with maintaining security across cloud and on-prem services. For example, many enterprises have directory systems on-prem, and so need to ensure that their existing policy system can integrate with that of their cloud provider for a uniform policy and experience.
This gets even messier in a multi-cloud environment. With a multi-cloud system, operations and security teams potentially face a fragmented set of security access controls, policies, and monitoring tools. The chances of making a mistake or leaving a system vulnerable increase exponentially with each addition to the environment.
Again, a multi-cloud management tool can add the needed layers of oversight and protection here. Our own TRiA, for example, offers:
- Layers of protection within a multi-tier architecture, leveraging machine learning and artificial intelligence
- Proactive 24×7 threat prevention for continuously evolving attacks tailored to each cloud platform
- Ongoing compliance monitoring for HIPAA, PCI, and more
We predict that the rest of 2019 will see security concerns continue to arise, with new layers of complexity coming with increasing cloud adoption. But the tools to ensure security will become more sophisticated as well.