In the previous decade, when all the talk for 2020 was about the 5G revolution, IoT, distributed ledger technologies, and quantum computing, no one could have imagined the turbulence that lay ahead, or the important role cloud would play in making the transition to digital work a little less bumpy. And it’s importance will only increase in the years ahead.
Gartner is forecasting global public cloud revenue to grow by 19% from $258 million in 2020 to $307 million by 2021. Despite cloud’s flexibility, scalability, accessibility, and security, there have been challenges with the adoption of a more cloud-based way of working. We spoke with experts who explained that 2021 will be a year when those obstacles — workers unaccustomed with cloud tools, applications that aren’t optimized for the cloud, and remote security — will be addressed. They foresee four trends in particular.
1. The sky’s the limit with cloud
Throughout 2020, businesses have had to adapt their models to a new way of working with 92% of small businesses in the US pivoting to online. The cloud has enabled this digitization through remote work tools and facilitating workers’ access to files and data from anywhere. IT experts predict a doubling of people working from home by 2021, and cloud usage is set to grow even more in the year ahead.
Christian Kleinerman, Senior VP of Product at Snowflake, said as much to TNW: “We’re likely to see an acceleration of the cloud and especially with the pandemic, there will be a variability of business demand and activity meaning that people will want a more elastic platform, rather than a fixed infrastructure.”
The flexibility and scalability offered by cloud computing will assist businesses and organizations as they continue to grapple with an uncertain business environment. However, the shift to cloud will not be wholesale.
Kleinerman added: “The vast majority of companies will become cloud-only as the destination, but there’s still some way to go. It won’t be too surprising if we see a hybrid world for the next five years, as it’s very difficult to completely replace your on-premises legacy infrastructure overnight.”
2. A culture of cloud and democratized data
Creating a cloud-based culture and democratizing data will receive a lot of focus in 2021.
A workforce, outside of IT departments, that understands the benefits of cloud and can access and analyze files and data self-sufficiently, is more likely to use the cloud to its full potential.
Manoj Nair, General Manager at Metallic, a DPaaS company, said he foresees companies investing in training and other management services that will enable them to build a cloud-based culture for their distributed workforces.
Helena Schwenk, Market Intelligence Lead at Exasol told TNW that she expects to see greater investment around self-sufficient access and analysis of data.
“Data democratization demands a shift in behaviour. This means 2021 could see a wide-spread drive across industries to foster a better data culture and form new organizational behaviors, supported in part through self-service analytics and improved data literacy programs,” said Schwenk.
Companies that invested in digital transformation projects were truly tested as lockdowns began, in some cases revealing flaws in their systems, which could be remedied by sound investments in data literacy and the right data tools and processes.
This is according to Natalie Cramp, CEO of Profusion, a data science company, who said: “A significant number of businesses believed they had wisely invested in digital transformation or data services…but [had] not actually adapted the business itself to become data-focused or even data literate.”
3. Multi-factor authentication and shifting perimeters
Given the sharp uptick in cybersecurity incidents when the massive shift to remote working took place, it is logical that organizations are looking to secure and protect their cloud-stored data.
The move to cloud-stored data requires a shift in the secure perimeter of an on-prem location type solution to a secure perimeter based on authentication and identity as business moves into the cloud.
Jonathan Sander, Security Field CTO at Snowflake told TNW, organizations can no longer rely on a secure network used by all employees in the same location as its primary layer of security for data protection. He said: “There are many variables in terms of location and this means you can’t trust any network that employees might be using or accessing. Authentication comes first, trust comes later.”
He said that mature organizations are using true multi-factor authentication. This involves looking at which network, device, action the user is taking. There are even advanced solutions measuring the rate in which the user is typing, allowing for in-depth analysis of more complex factors to ensure access is granted to the correct user.
Sander added that Snowflake has always been designed to fit into a ‘zero trust model’ and having authentication as its perimeter.
4. Cloud-native design
The shift to cloud has revealed that some applications are best suited to on-prem computing. So 2021 will see greater creation and use of applications that have been designed or redesigned specifically for use in the cloud, and increased demand for platforms on which to create them.
According to Vice President, Principal Analyst at Forrester, Dave Bartoletti, his market research company predicts the percentage of developers using containers and serverless functions to modernize old apps and build new ones before the pandemic will increase 50% by 2021.
Don Foster, Global Vice President of Sales Engineering at Commvault, data protection, and cloud back-up company said to The Next Web that the pandemic has pushed many organizations to outsource their computing, storage, and other infrastructure to cloud service providers and keep them there.
He said: “Expect IT organizations to make the rearchitecting of their applications and workloads into cloud-native formats one of their top digital transformation priorities for 2021.”
The uptake of cloud will no doubt continue to grow given its utility and ability to accommodate spikes and lulls in usage, in the uncertain months ahead.
Organizations that may have been hasty in their choice of cloud product or providers are able to migrate to alternative solutions that better suit their needs. They will also need to bring their people with them as they introduce more cloud tools in the future, and shift to cloud-native design.
Businesses are realizing the implementations, whether cloud-first or hybrid, have many benefits. They will be investing in these solutions to iron out the kinks and ensure they are robust enough to carry them through 2021 and beyond, no matter what that future looks like.
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This article is brought to you by Snowflake.io.