Pre-2020, the general expectation was that cloud computing would continue to grow as a catalyst for enterprise-level digital transformation. This expectation was unexpectedly accelerated in 2020 with a global pandemic that led to a significant increase in cloud usage, and 6 years’ worth of digital transformation change compressed into 6 months.
Businesses have shifted en masse to remote work, with the number of workers using cloud-based desktop services at an all-time high. By September 2020, 40% of full-time employees worked from home, a rise from 4% before the pandemic. This tremendous shift in the use of cloud (some public and hybrid, others private and multi-cloud) has also impacted the cost of cloud infrastructure services with annual spending estimated to increase to $81 billion by 2022.
Given these key changes in the business environment, here are key cloud trends that will transform IT in 2021:
Increased cloud data migration
‘Data gravity’ refers to the concept where masses of data attract applications, services, and even other data in a sort of gravitational ‘pull’. Because public cloud service providers offer free data imports but chargeable data exports, enterprises are building architecture that avoids this, pushing workloads and data towards single cloud environments, and away from multi-cloud environments. Eventually, cloud data usage will amass sufficient ‘gravity’ to increase the cost and consumption of cloud services.
Remote work-driven boost in cloud & security services
In 2020, the availability of public cloud services for remote employees increased significantly as demand rose.
Those skilled in the digital arts are now able to work from home and access advanced graphic capabilities to create visual renderings or perform other CPU intensive tasks thanks to recent advances.
As the trend of using AI writers in work increasingly picks up, the use of cloud-based systems appears highly conducive to this expansion on account of its safe and secure environment. Verification will be required for all individuals wishing to access high-end systems.
Cloud adoption will be supported by System-on-a-chip technology
An SoC integrates all of the core capabilities of a server onto one chip. This includes CPU, GPU, networking chips, memory & data storage hardware. You save money on acquiring each component separately and also enjoy enhanced performance.2020 heralded a new era in computing technology with the introduction of Apple’s M1 technology which put a whole computer on a single chip. Apple’s arm-based system on a chip represents a significant, cost-saving evolution away from earlier Intel x86 architectures. Also in 2020, Amazon entered the space with Graviton2, a processor based on the 64-bit Arm architecture, which Amazon promises will offer 40% better cloud deployment than current x86-based architectures.
These technological advancements will further facilitate the seamless migration of enterprises to the cloud, and with better price justification.
Cloud skills will be enhanced by serverless computing
The many benefits of serverless computing – operational efficiency, security, and deployment – continue to entice many businesses, prompting the inclusion of cloud services into business models and platforms. As serverless computing continues to grow, there’s an expected associated increase in cloud skills across the industry as IT personnel move to quickly learn and apply serverless development skills. With many developers favouring a ‘serverless’ model, much more time can be spent honing coding skills and less time can be spent on hardware provisioning.
Public cloud machine learning and AI expansion
A major cloud trend to look out for in 2021 is the expansion in machine learning and AI workloads in the public cloud. The ability to apply machine learning and AI within a public cloud environment, while affordably integrating them into applications is progressing cloud adoption.
With this capability, highly specialised processors such as Google’s TPU and AWS Titanium can manage AI and machine learning workloads in the cloud, while efficiently reducing computing costs. Adoption will continue to grow as organisations how to leverage this potential.
While cloud computing continues to grow towards enterprise ubiquity, it still represents 5 – 10% of IT with plenty of room for growth. A significant shift in organisational change and organisational model is needed to fully implement this growth. With businesses continuing their sustained migration to the cloud, the future looks ultimately bright for cloud computing, and in 2022, we will look back again in wonder at the progress that cloud computing would have made in a year.