The next big thing for Cloud – an opinion piece by John Ing

For many, 2020 will be remembered as the year of COVID. It will also be remembered as the year which saw the acceleration of advancements in the world of technology, especially with the acceleration in the adoption and investment into Cloud technology.

This investment has come from businesses taking advantage of the remote infrastructure as well as Cloud vendors looking to push the boundaries of what’s possible (AWS, Microsoft and Google to name just a few).

To quote John Lovelock, VP analyst at Gartner:

“By the time we get to 2023, we will be further along on many of the big trends that Gartner has been talking about than if we were without the pandemic. There will be more companies operating as digital businesses, more of the supply chain will be automated and with less friction, there will be more remote work, more cloud, more optimisation, a different workforce, and more digitalised processes”.

As with all new innovation, the things that stick are the things that society need and consume. This makes innovation very much a ‘right time, right place’ kind of phenomenon – and everything we’ve seen materialise and accelerated since March is evidence of this.

So, where do we go from here?

Before we answer that, one is reminded of a passage in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland:

‘Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?’

‘That depends a good deal on where you want to get to’ said the Cat.

Following the logic that ‘necessity is the mother of invention’  – as well as the Cheshire Cat’s rather appropriate comeback – it would be sensible to suggest that the next big thing for Cloud will be what makes businesses more resilient to change and what will help simplify and strengthen the increasing digitalisation of business operations.

What comes next are the thoughts of John Ing, CX Principle Product Lead at ECS.

 

What do you see as the next big thing for cloud?

“For much of 2019 and 2020, enterprises started to routinely deploy workloads across multiple Infrastructure-as-a-Service providers, seeing an increase in multi-Cloud strategies. I only see this increasing as applications become ever more portable, data integration platforms continue to streamline connectivity and vendors form cross-platform alliances. In fact, I would go as far as to say we are moving towards an omni-Cloud trend, with business deploying applications at an omni-Cloud level.

This will benefit customers – who will be able to take advantage of increasingly differentiated services and avoid vendor lock-in, and the omni-customer who will be expecting a seamless experience across a business’ channel ecosystem.

I also see progress in tooling and infrastructure.

The use of serverless technology will eventually remove the need for the provision of cloud infrastructure, whilst the growing sophistication of AI-based migration tooling will greatly benefit those looking to move away from on-premises technology or move between one Cloud and another. This will provide additional flexibility for consumers and could help support some of the challenges faced from regulators at an enterprise level.”

 

What are the three biggest issues facing the Cloud industry?

“In my opinion, one of the biggest challenges is the inconsistent perception around what Cloud means – everything from Security, Data, Risk & Costs to Multi-Cloud, Hybrid Cloud or Private Cloud considerations. This disparity in analysis slows down, and in some cases can prevent change.

Regulation is another issue. Aggregated Cloud deployments are increasing industry risk, with the impacts of a catastrophic failure being much wider than ever before.

The third biggest challenge is skills. The availability of skilled resources to support the potential demand of Cloud services and capabilities is limited and will need to be addressed collectively by the industry. Failing to do so will halt the progress of Cloud technology and prevent businesses from maximising the value they get from their Cloud solutions.”

 

What are the top three biggest drivers for Cloud and SaaS adoption?

‘Where businesses once had the gift of time to decide whether to adopt Cloud or not, the pace of change and agility over this last year has forced business leaders to make and implement decisions that might have been years away on their agenda. The need to support not just tech agility but business agility has driven businesses to consider Cloud platforms that offer the ability to adapt and flex, especially in the current climate, and I suspect this trend will continue long into 2021.

The ability to leverage new technology such as AI and ML more quickly and easily to gain insight from data is also prompting businesses to invest in platforms capable of keeping up. Cloud and SaaS adoption offers that solution and is a natural fit for those investing in AI/ML tools.

We also can’t ignore competitive advantage as a driver from Cloud adoption. Reducing the overall cost of ownership and removing the need for long term capital investments would free up investment to improve customer experiences and services and thereby gain a competitive advantage.”

 

What are the top three biggest blockers to Cloud and SaaS adoption?

“As with most areas that fall under digital transformation, mindsets and a lack of understanding around what Cloud and SaaS are and how they operate can make it difficult to gain buy-in and support for change. There is also the risk appetite to consider.

Another blocker we at ECS see time and time again is clients being locked in to existing long-term services. Levels of sunk cost and depreciation make it difficult to form a business case and move from the typical capitalised cost model to a more opex model and associated funding / financial methods. With the pace of change being what it is, agreeing to a long-term contract can hinder business agility and innovation around IT operations and create an unnecessary blocker for enterprises.

I spoke earlier about a lack of skills being a challenge for the Cloud industry, and the same applies here. Technical capability within organisations will greatly impact the success of Cloud technology adoption. There is also the challenge of shifting from what has been traditionally outsourced using professional services to a more in-house software engineering capability. Not only does it take time and energy to develop this type of capability, it grows in complexity should you choose a multi-cloud approach*.”

*Phillip Smith, CTO at ECS, explores this last idea in greater detail in his recent opinion paper: The trade-offs for gaining a good multi-cloud strategy. Read it here.

 

What is your prediction for Cloud services’ rate of growth?

“I believe there will be a continued acceleration of Cloud services over the next 12 months and beyond for any business on the journey already. There will also be an increase in businesses exploring Cloud to see if there are any tactical opportunities to solve some immediate problems. 

That said, the economic impact of COVID is yet to be fully understood which could generate a holding period for many businesses and in some cases, businesses will fail. This may reduce the potential growth of services, but I don’t see it slowly down innovation in this area.”

 

Closing remarks:

Just as much as digital transformation has become a necessity, the acceleration of cloud technology adoption has been triggered by a need for remote infrastructure, security and scalability of solutions.

While Cloud does everything it says on the tin, true success with Cloud adoption is just a pipedream when you fail to adopt a new approach to technology. With this in mind, consider building a roadmap that:

  • Grows your inhouse technical capability to support the solution you adopt,
  • Creates a consistent perception around what Cloud means to help align mindsets across the business,
  • Architects your cloud solution in line with best practice so you’re more likely to avoid outage, unpredicted cost increases and fines for breaking out of contractual obligations early.

If you’ve already started your Cloud journey but find yourself struggling with some of the blockers above, or perhaps you’ve heard so much talk about Cloud but don’t want to take the first step until you know it’s the right one for your business, you’re welcome to reach out to the team for some friendly advice.

We’d also love to hear your own thoughts about what you see as the next big thing for Cloud. Let us know on LinkedIn if you agree with John Ing’s prediction or if you see things going in a slightly different direction.

 

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