The year 2020 allowed for one of the most relevant milestones in the cloud computing industry. But this milestone wasn’t based on some big technological breakthrough. Instead, it was based on a paradigm shift within the public mindset.
As the events that ensued during the COVID pandemic altered the business landscape of most industries and niches, everyone finally learned (the hard way) just how valuable cloud-based technologies actually are, especially in terms of:
Cloud computing technologies make up an invaluable underlying structure that pretty much held the majority of the world’s economy on its shoulders throughout 2020 and enabled the largest ecosystem of remote workforces the industry has ever seen so far.
As the ripple effects of the pandemic are likely to reverberate throughout 2021 as well, it is wise to take a closer look at how the cloud has progressed in 2020, as well as delve into the trends we can see taking place in 2021.
Overview of 2020 Cloud Computing Trends
Last year, we published an article that tackles how cloud trends would unravel in 2020. Let’s do a quick rundown of those trends:
The use of containers in the cloud has been on a steady rise. To be more precise, the growth rate of companies that have containerized more than half of their apps has been around 22%, while Gartner estimates that 70% of organizations will be running 3 or more containerized apps in production by 2023. Also, a recent survey conducted by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) shows that 56% of 950 polled organizations plan to increase their use of containers in the next 12 months.
The use of serverless computing has also seen a percentage bump in usage. According to Forrester, this trend will continue in 2021: “We predict 25% of developers will use serverless and nearly 30% will use containers regularly by the end of 2021, creating a spike in global demand for both multi-cloud container development platforms and public-cloud container/serverless services.” More information on serverless computing (or Edge Cloud, to be more precise), available later in the article.
A recent Everest Group study surveyed 200 enterprises and the stats show that 72% of businesses have a cloud strategy that is hybrid- or private-first, with 58% of enterprise workloads being currently on or are soon expected to adopt hybrid cloud infrastructures.
Big Data, AI & ML
The trinity of AI, Machine Learning, and Big Data has continued to improve the speed and efficiency of cloud-based infrastructures and processes, especially in terms of image recognition, engine recommendation, and language processing. It is no secret that these 3 fields will act as catalysts for further development and evolution of cloud technologies.
Security is still among the most common roadblocks to cloud adoption, which will continue to fuel investments in improving this aspect of the cloud. According to Gartner, by the end of 2022, at least 95% of security-based cloud failures will be caused by a customer, not by a flaw in the system. As security is becoming a critical component within cloud environments, most architectures, approaches, and processes are now being geared toward security, with DevSecOps being a great example of that shift.
Cloud Computing Trends to Watch in 2021
We are positive that 2021 will bring a further acceleration of cloud adoption, as well as numerous improvements in the technology itself. The delivery and cross-pollination of data and ideas are becoming more and more integral to our day-to-day activities, processes, and lives in general.
Here are 5 cloud computing trends that are likely to play out over the course of 2021:
The Rise of Virtual Desktops
Also known as desktop-as-a-service, virtual desktops allow you to have an entire workstation environment delivered as a managed cloud service to your remote computer. This model is handy as it enables organizations to leverage scalable by-the-hour subscriptions, reducing the money and time spent on hardware updates and redundant technologies to a minimum, and thus optimizing overall costs.
The benefits include security as well. Virtual Desktops enable you to have all devices managed in a centralized manner, which results in a more homogenous layer of security, rather than making sure each team member on the network is following security-related best practices at all times.
Scalability is also among the most tangible advantages of the desktop-as-a-service model. Whenever an employee leaves your organization or more people join your company, you can easily scale the cost of the platform up or down according to your current needs. This model is extremely handy and will highly likely become quite popular, especially in the current pandemic-induced environment where remote workplaces are present and needed more than ever.
Multi-cloud Model to Enable a More Collaborative Approach Among Providers
The current cloud-based services landscape is being dominated by the big three – AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud – as their business models are tailored in such a way that they can cover all the cloud, data, and computing needs of an organization. However, as we already mentioned, the hybrid and multi-cloud environments are slowly but surely becoming the go-to models for more than 50% of companies, with many of them using multiple public providers.
This has the potential to result in a more collaborative approach to business models among the platforms, which would enable users to further adopt and leverage this fast-growing trend of running a business on a multi-cloud model. The most tangible advantage would be the upgraded data accessibility across organizations that need to collaborate and share data between different systems, applications, and data standards.
Further Adoption of SASE
For those who are unfamiliar with Secure Access Service Edge, or SASE (pronounced sassy (I know)), it is a network architecture that combines network security functions (including SWG, CASB, FWaaS, and ZTNA), with WAN capabilities (SDWAN) which leads security-based systems capable of supporting the dynamic secure access needs of organizations. SASE is typically delivered through an “aaS” model and is based on real-time contexts and security/compliance policies.
Back in late 2019, Gartner wrote about the future wide adoption of SASE which should lead to a new step in the evolution of network security. The year 2020, however, brought a somewhat unexpected surge in remote workplace connectivity, thus increasing the need for a boost in secure networking. This should make way for SASE as a new security concept to thrive, and according to Gartner, 2021 will be a very good year for Secure Access Service Edge.
Edge Cloud Model to Grow
The main idea behind Edge Cloud architecture is to decentralize the processing power of cloud-based systems and distribute them across the network edges i.e. clients and devices. This new computing distribution paradigm enables computation processes and data storage to be brought closer to the physical location of the user, thus improving response times and saving bandwidth.
According to Forrester, Edge is the future of cloud-native architectures. The year 2021 will bring the advent of new business models that are built around Edge, 5G, and AI.
“Over the next three years, buyers will shift their cloud strategies toward the edge to capture all this innovation and become more connected,” says Forrester. “While public clouds will play a part, we do not think they will dominate, as their culture is based on massive data centers and tight control of the architecture — the exact opposite of what firms need to serve customers locally.”
Of course, this doesn’t by any chance mean that centralized cloud architectures have peaked and are on their way out. However, with the advent of distributed service layers and the new developments within serverless computing models, decentralized cloud environments are definitely evolving.
Gaming Industry to Increase Cloud-based Delivery
Much like the music and movie industries have moved much of their delivery to the cloud, the gaming industry is bound to follow suit.
Amazon, for example, is about to enter the cloud gaming arena with Amazon Luna and thus join other big and small tech names who offer their own platform to be utilized by the gaming industry. This trend will enable instant access to most gaming titles via a monthly subscription model, which will certainly revolutionize the way this type of entertainment is both delivered and consumed.
The transition from console-based gaming to cloud-based one won’t be an instantaneous one, as both Playstation and Xbox have just developed new physical consoles, but it is surely inevitable.
Wrapping Up: A Shift in the Mindset
A good way, perhaps, to round up this article is to address the very notion we hinted at in the introduction. The year 2020 and the ripple effects caused by COVID-19 will hopefully act as a catalyst for more businesses to seek high levels of scalability, accessibility, and agility in cloud-based technologies.
The ecosystems of cloud technologies are becoming more granular and are increasing in complexity by the day. As the modern workplace is gearing toward decentralization, the organizations should start perceiving the cloud adoption and enablement process as a journey rather than a one-off migration process
Mere moving to the cloud won’t bring all the potential benefits immediately and automatically. In order to start seeing tangible advantages performance- and cost-wise, all teams and departments must embrace the mindset and leverage each step of this highly iterative process.