The cloud computing industry moves fast. It sometimes seems like new technologies and vendors are appearing every day, and it can be challenging to keep up with the latest news and trends.
Here at VectorUSA, we’ve seen increasingly widespread use of a broadening array of cloud services among our clients over the past few years. Our managed services customers are eager to avail themselves of the agility, scalability, and flexibility that the cloud has to offer, especially since pricing models have become more predictable recently. These are the biggest trends we’re observing right now, along with a peek at what’s on the horizon for 2020:
#1: Many organizations will begin their journey to the cloud with backup-as-a-service, disaster recovery-as-a-service, or full-scale business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) solutions.
Some organizations are reluctant to move their primary computing and storage infrastructures to the cloud because of security, cost, or compliance concerns. But shifting backups to the cloud often makes sense, since the available capabilities are so much richer. These extend beyond simple data redundancy to include all the infrastructure resources you’d need to spin up a full-scale data center with the click of a button. Because cloud customers can take advantage of consumption-based pricing, a model that’s particularly attractive for business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) solutions, they’re able to build robust failover capabilities without spending hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars on hardware and physical infrastructure only to have them sit idle at a secondary site. BCDRaaS is an increasingly common entry point for cloud customers, who often learn that many of the benefits they initially experience with cloud-hosted disaster recovery solutions—including high availability of resources, scalability, and flexibility—could be extended to benefit their organizations more broadly if they moved more of their computing infrastructure to the cloud.
#2: Business and IT leaders are becoming better able to understand that migrating infrastructures to the cloud is entirely compatible with regulatory compliance.
There’s long been a popular misconception that storing data in the cloud inherently makes it difficult if not impossible to maintain compliance. But if you exercise care in selecting a cloud provider who has built the proper security and compliance framework to protect your data, and who will give you full visibility into how and where your data is stored, you’ll find that it simply isn’t true.
"There really isn’t a compliance requirement in existence that you can meet in an on-premises data center that you can’t also adhere to in the cloud." William Higgins, Director of Solutions Architecture, VectorUSA
Major public cloud providers including AWS and Azure now offer FedRamp-compliant services like AWS GovCloud and Azure Government, which meet even the strictest security requirements of federal government agencies and their customers. With these cloud offerings, sensitive data is isolated in dedicated instances, and the cloud provider furnishes certification that all compliance audits are completed on an ongoing basis. In some cases, maintaining compliance may in fact be easier if most or all of your sensitive data resides in the cloud. It becomes the cloud provider’s responsibility to schedule and complete all necessary audits inside the data center. Your challenge then becomes management and governance—making sure that your cloud provider is presenting you with the results on a timely basis so that you can maintain evidence that their certification remains current.
#3: Multicloud strategies offer the best of all possible worlds, and it’s an area that can expect to see growth.
Increasing numbers of automated solutions are becoming available that make it possible for cloud customers to manage services and infrastructure from multiple cloud providers within a single dashboard interface. In addition, technologies like containers that enable applications to run seamlessly across multicloud and hybrid environments are growing in popularity. Taken together, these developments are opening a new world of possibilities for organizations looking to make the best possible use of what the cloud has to offer.
"For VectorUSA’s clients, it’s no longer a matter of “which cloud provider should I select?” but “what do I select from each cloud provider?” and “should I have my own private cloud?”" William Higgins, Director of Solutions Architecture, VectorUSA
The primary challenges multicloud environments still pose involve their governance. With five major public cloud providers all offering best-of-breed solutions in certain areas, selecting what’s best for your organization from all of their offerings might well mean that you end up with four or five different vendors at the same time. It remains difficult to manage, maintain, and secure this sort of environment, but the potential benefits—in terms cost, performance, and service quality—are very real.
#4: Serverless computing will become much more prevalent.
An example of a serverless architecture that everyone has heard of is Microsoft Office 365. Formerly, Office users maintained their own on-premises Exchange servers, but today Office 365 runs in containers on the Azure stack. The ‘server’ component of the infrastructure has been removed to facilitate portability and efficiency. Every major cloud provider is now offering tools and solutions that make it easier for their customers to adapt their own applications to run the same way—in container-based architectures that don’t require virtual machines or servers.
"With today’s multicloud architectures, applications and services are becoming increasingly mobile across platforms. Say Azure is my primary cloud provider of choice. I can run an extension of Azure in my on-premise private cloud, where I own all the code, and it will run exactly the same way as it would in any of Azure’s data centers. No one is confined to just their own cloud provider or data center any longer." William Higgins, Director of Solutions Architecture, VectorUSA
Using container-based development kits like Docker, which every major cloud provider supports, you can create applications that will run in any environment. And because Docker images are read-only, they’re a lot more robust from a security standpoint.
#5: Edge computing and virtual desktop infrastructures (VDIs) will come to the fore.
Both edge computing and virtual desktop infrastructures (VDIs) are technologies that have been around for a long time, but we expect to see them gaining increased traction in the new decade. VDIs date back to the era of mainstream computing. The idea is that end users interact with a full desktop environment that’s delivered to them from a remote server—and in today’s desktop-as-a-service (DaaS) offerings, that remote server is a cloud host. Users can access that desktop environment from any device, and will get the performance benefits of the cloud data center’s latest hardware even if that device is a basic Chromebook. In edge computing, processing is distributed across nodes in a network in such a way that it’s performed closer to where the data’s being collected. This can, for example, enable a manufacturing facility to respond quickly to changes observed in production line sensor data, without needed to wait for that data to travel to a cloud data center. The benefits also include increased efficiency and reduced bandwidth consumption.