After a difficult few years for most businesses, cloud computing is still a priority. In fact, it is one of the definitive transformational technologies of our times – with the ability to improve business continuity, efficiency, and scalability.
This was genuinely demonstrated during the pandemic, as cloud technology allowed the world’s office workforce to switch to remote and hybrid working easily.
So, what is next for this new technology – and what trends can we expect to see into 2022?
Despite many of the big tech providers aiming to offer a single solution, all-in-one service, we expect to see a move towards a diversified cloud management strategy. Many businesses don’t want to rely on one ‘cloud’, as this means depending on one service, one company, and potentially, one data centre – which multiplies risk to business continuity.
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.
AI and the cloud
According to Gartner’s Top Strategic Technology Trends for 2021, businesses need a strong AI strategy to ensure business continuity and future potential. Gartner’s position is that most AI projects would fail to move past the prototype or proof-of-concept stage without AI engineering. This shows the intrinsically mutual and symbiotic relationship between cloud tech and AI.
AI often enables the cloud to be used effectively and efficiently, and vice versa. For example, the cloud allows low-budget or lesser-skilled people to access the infinitely complex world of artificial intelligence and machine learning. AI increases the efficiency of sorting data gathered from the cloud. Better AI engineering will increase the efficiency of the cloud, and more cloud will mean greater access to AI.
AI doesn’t just complement cloud software; it also improves the stability and efficiency of the physical data centres that operate cloud services. These fragile environments need complex and intelligent management systems to keep everything running smoothly.
Cloud-based virtual desktops
Hybrid working has shown how necessary ‘desktop-as-a-service’ and virtual desktops are – allowing people to access safe and capable machines and programs from anywhere. The benefits of hybrid working, although fiercely discussed, are clear and well-covered, and cloud technology is vital to improving hybrid for everyone.
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 several iterations of distributed cloud, including: on premises, Internet of Things (IoT) edge cloud, metro-area community cloud, 5G mobile edge cloud, and global network edge cloud. These will all be used more frequently in the coming years and decades, and they undoubtedly increase the efficiency of cloud technology.
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.
5G will be a massive boost to the potential of cloud and edge technologies. 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 combining edge, 5G, and AI.
Although right now it seems less of a pressing issue than a shortage of natural gas or delivery drivers, cloud computing, as with all fourth-generation technologies, is reliant on a highly skilled and undersized labour market.
According to one survey, 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.
The rise of cloud gaming
Although these services and technologies are in their infancy, and much of it relies on more cloud, edge, and 5G, we expect to see both demand and supply increase massively in this sector.
It can be compared to Netflix and other streaming sites, but for games. The benefits are similar to the move away from DVDs; fewer disks, less cost, less reliance on storage, and greater access. It also has the added benefit of helping against piracy issues.
That may be why Mordor Intelligence estimates that the cloud gaming market will grow to $2.7 billion by 2026, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15.3% from 2021 to 2026.
More regulatory control
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.
We would be missing a trick in writing about cloud computing trends if we failed to mention the inevitable: regulatory control. The Trump Presidency put a tremendous strain on the relationship between Big Tech and the US Government, and there are similar discords in China. Regulating tech may be one of the few things most politicians can agree on – and cloud technology won’t escape the trend.