Assessing the Prophets of Cloud

Cloud Computing

Written by Bill Mew, Cloud Strategist at UKCloud

Every year you get a round of forecasts, looking at the future of cloud. We decided to save you the bother of reading them all by doing so for you and providing a summary. We analysed what the analysts had to say and assessed what profits the prophets saw and where. We reviewed what the crystal ball gazers had to say and crystalised it down to this blog, especially for you.

Starting with a few of the forecasts…

Forrester’s 10 Cloud Computing Predictions For 2018

Analyst firm Forrester’s 2018 cloud predictions, summarised by Louis Columbus on Forbes, were that global public cloud providers would expand to capture 80% of cloud platform revenue by 2020, that the market was continuing to grow at a 22% compound annual growth rate (CAGR), and that Kubernetes has won the war for container orchestration dominance.

We agree. Cloud is really starting to gain traction in all areas of the UK public sector, and as for the rise of Kubernetes, we are well positioned for this with our OpenShift offering.

Cloud Computing Outlook 2018: The Top 10 Predictions For Winning the Cloud Wars

Bob Evans, also writing for Forbes, focused on three clear cloud priorities—digital transformation, customer-centric culture and behaviour, and AI mastery. Interestingly not only does he say that Digital Transformation is being hypercharged by the cloud, but he expects that as the cloud sector matures we will see a greater focus on the customer and its needs. He says that they will ask, “If you’re not as committed to my industry and my specific needs as I am, then why should I bet my company’s cloud strategy and digital transformation on you?” His point is that: tech wizardry becomes table stakes, and customer expertise trumps all.

Again, we agree. Cloud (and Cloud First) has been the foundation on which the government’s Digital Transformation agenda has been built. As for customer-centricity, it is in our blood. We were formed as a cloud provider with a singular focus on the UK public sector, its culture and its needs.

2018 cloud predictions | CIO

At CIO Magazine Joe Kinsella reckons that 2018 will be the year of Cloud 2.0 and the first year where machine learning and AI plays its first meaningful role in our ability to manage the cloud complexity we have unleashed. He also predicts the arrival of heterogeneous cloud where an application spans multiple cloud providers. He sees the main drivers for this as: (1) the cost of data transfer, and (2) the gravity of data.

While we’d tend to agree we refer to it as multi-cloud rather than heterogeneous cloud. Ingress, egress and data gravity are becoming increasingly important issues – as is complexity –  but we don’t think machine learning is quite there yet. We think our customers are still better off with expert support from our award-winning client services teams.

There were numerous different forecasts – too many to mention – but a few predictions appeared time and again and as we waded through them all, trends started to emerge:

Looking at the overall trends:

Overall various trends emerged, from the rising importance of container technology and cloud security, to the increasing level of multi-cloud adoption and consolidation in the market.

Trend 1: Hybrid Cloud/Multi-Cloud Adoption To Rise

There is undeniably a massive shift taking place among businesses in favour of multiple cloud environments, typically including several public clouds and possibly also elements of private cloud, as well as on-premises infrastructure. This mix and match approach to cloud will only accelerate in 2018, as businesses deploy new applications and move critical workloads to save money and boost agility.

We agree here: multi-cloud is a reality  and all too often the focus on cloud is allowed to eclipse the need to support legacy applications as well.

Trend 2: Cloud Security Still Critical

In 2017 the NHS learned an important, but painful, lesson in security with the WannaCry malware incident. Security is undeniably easier to manage in the cloud than across disparate and diverse on premises estates. However, next-generation technologies such as cloud and IoT require a different approach to security than has been applied to traditional premises-based IT infrastructure. For that reason, many businesses need help with their cloud security posture with managed security services being a growing segment in 2018.

Our view is that security needs to be baked in from the outset of any development process, rather than being an afterthought. Well-managed cloud environments are definitely more secure than on premises systems, and ransomware and cybersecurity now as much of a reason to migrate to cloud as cost and innovation.

Trend 3: Containers May be Small but They’re Gaining Momentum

At the centre of all the industry buzz is containers. They are acting as one of the biggest disruptive forces in the cloud market, as the industry shifts to more agile architectures that includes more flexible, autonomous elements. And while Dockers sparked the container revolution, Kubernetes is emerging as a winning technology.

We have always seen agility and innovation as drivers for cloud adoption. Containers are simply a further enabler here with our OpenShift environment a great way for our customers to start experimenting with Kubernetes.

Trend 4: Cost Management Gains Prominence

Managing and predicting cloud costs has been historically difficult for many businesses, and it’s only getting more complicated as businesses embrace multiple cloud platforms to host more of their applications.

Businesses need transparent, predicable cloud pricing, not what they get from current cloud contracts – aside from the technological and contractual lock-in. Customers are either employing cloud cost management to track usage, identify overages, and better manage their overall cloud spend, or they are seeking multi-cloud solutions from a single vendor, giving them unified billing and a single throat to choke.

With the addition of our new Azure Stack platform, we believe that we can offer a full range of multi-cloud solutions from a single vendor, with the added assurance of the highest levels of accreditation and customer service.

Trend 5: Cloud is coming of Age

Cloud is no longer the new kid on the block. It is at the centre of almost all IT planning, and the foundation for many other innovations – from IoT and big data analytics to AI and machine learning – and it is now maturing and being seen as enterprise-ready. Whereas once moving to the cloud might have been seen as risky, there is now more concern that not making best use of cloud might leave you at risk of being left behind.

Often with immature technologies, you see providers developing services that they think customers will want, but as sectors mature, you start to see customers defining the requirements and providers having to be close to them in order to be best positioned to meet their needs.

As cloud matures, customer-centricity will become increasingly important. Having a singular focus on the UK public sector, its culture and its needs, puts us in a position, along with our specialist ecosystem of partners, to ensure that we are ahead of the curve here.


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