Cloud Computing Forecast—Sunny or Partly Cloudy?

Cloud Computing Forecast—Sunny or Partly Cloudy?

As the world navigates its way through a multiyear pandemic, a growing chorus of experts are attempting to forecast the future of cloud computing whether in corporate, government or higher education environments. The computing world continues to go through significant change, and the pandemic has accelerated our use of cloud computing in countless ways. As we like to know about impending weather, sometimes on an hourly basis, I’ll attempt to provide a reliable forecast for cloud computing for the next five years.

Some of the most commonly identified benefits of cloud computing include:

  • Quick deployments
  • Automated software updates
  • Reduced costs and lower total cost of ownership
  • Advanced security
  • Scalability
  • Collaboration
  • Scalable high-volume storage
  • Automated backups and restores
  • disaster recovery
  • IoT management

There are five main categories of cloud deployments: public clouds, private clouds, hybrid, multi-clouds and high-performance clouds. A public cloud is when a third party provides services to clients over a public Internet such as AWS, Microsoft Azure or Google Cloud. A private cloud provides services over a private network others can’t access from the public Internet. Definitions can become blurry when describing hybrid versus multi-clouds, but hybrid clouds typically include a private cloud managed by one entity. A hybrid cloud combines public cloud computing with a private cloud or on-prem infrastructure which includes servers, storage and networking to support ancillary services such as authentication, virtual desktop infrastructure, security, databases and monitoring.

Multi-clouds always include more than one public cloud performing different functions. They can have two or more public clouds, two or more private clouds, or a combination of public, private and edge clouds without inter-cloud communication. All hybrid clouds are multi-clouds, but not all multi-clouds are hybrid clouds. Another simple distinction is that hybrid clouds include different kinds of clouds, while multi-cloud environments include multiple providers of the same type of cloud.

High-performance clouds (HPCs) are made up of supercomputers which perform complex computational tasks. These types of clouds are integral for innovation and aligned with technologies such as AI, machine learning and the evolving IoT landscape.

The amount of data stored in the cloud is staggering. The research firm Cybersecurity Ventures predicts that by 2025 there will be over 200 zettabytes of data stored in the cloud worldwide. If you are wondering about the magnitude of a zettabyte, it’s equal to a trillion gigabytes.

According to a GoodFirms survey of more than 600 people around the world, the top three cloud storage services include Google Drive (94 percent of respondents), Dropbox (66 percent) and OneDrive (39 percent). The utilization of these services is expected to continually grow. This clearly means additional investments will be made across the corporate and educational sectors.

INVESTING IN THE CLOUD

The investments made in cloud computing have substantial been. According to a forecast last month by the technology research firm Gartner, “global spending on public cloud products is growing at an annual rate of 20.4 percent and likely to reach $600 billion in 2023.” Looking ahead to our five-year cloud services forecast, the research firm MarketsandMarkets estimates the cloud computing platform market cost will exceed $832 billion by 2025.

An important capability of cloud services is to be able to monitor how much you are spending. This is where institutions should embrace FinOps, which is a cultural practice to manage cloud costs. NetApp’s Senior Director of Marketing Charles Foley pointed out, “It is important to get your arms around FinOpps when you spin up an instance in the cloud. You’ve got to watch that meter. You don’t watch it once a month, it’s got to be real time.” To be able to accomplish this, you need to give people access and the tools to see the workload of the resources being used. Foley added that the most critical questions to ask are: What financial resources are being consumed? Is that in line with our expectations? Do we have spaces where we have committed money and are not using it? Can we shift money where we need it more, and can we do that in real time?

Besides the estimated growth and cost of cloud computing, there have been concerns about its overall effectiveness and efficiency. While these concerns initially included security, the potential loss of control of data, or being locked into using one vendor, an additional consideration is to how to ensure cloud computing is used in responsible ways.

Ron Bergman, former vice president for information technology and CIO at Lehman College/CUNY, noted that the cloud is here to stay, and we can expect vendor selection to become even more important as mergers and acquisitions in the tech space continue over the next several years.

“Colleges and universities can leverage cloud providers to enable machine learning and AI capabilities, [but] we must ensure these powerful, emerging technologies are used in responsible ways to augment the knowledge of campus subject matter experts,” he said. “Longer term, the cloud will drive profound new applications and services that will further enable the Internet of Things, including intelligent process automation, machine-to-machine transactions and ambient computing.”

DIGITAL SILOS — CLOUDY CHALLENGES

It is important for institutions to ensure that multiple cloud deployments don’t result in digital silos. Mark Jobbins, CTO for APAC and Japan Pure Storage, pointed out, “Every time an organization creates a new cloud instance, a new barrier is erected between that data and the rest of the organization’s data. If a data management strategy isn’t considered from the outset, organizations may soon find that their data becomes so comprehensively siloed that their value to the company drops dramatically.” The good news is that while technology can build digital silos, it can also tear them down. Having multiple cloud solutions can be beneficial if carefully deployed.

Ron Bergman emphasized how data silos undermine a college or university’s ability to leverage information to improve student success.

“If we don’t use our data wisely, empower students, faculty and staff with easy-to-access data, and engage cross-functional teams, I believe institutions will be less able to ‘look around the corner,’ and might see an impact on enrollment and graduation rates, as well as the development of new programs,” he said. “One way to avoid this issue is to … address the cultural issues of alignment around the institution’s mission and goals.”

CLOUDS GROW IN CYBERSECURITY

Cloud services require robust security and identity protection. The weather forecast here might be cloudy to partly cloudy. According to a 2022 survey of 775 cybersecurity professionals by the software company Check Point, the top five most pressing cloud security concerns are cloud infrastructure (68 percent of respondents), unauthorized access (58 percent), insecure APIs (52 percent), hijacking ( 50 percent), and external data sharing (43 percent).

While data security and related transactions are ultimately the responsibility of the institution, cloud service providers are continually working to improve overall cybersecurity. Both the institution and the cloud providers must work in unison to ensure they’re using the best practices of security, coupled with effective monitoring and remediation processes.

FUTURE OF CLOUD SERVICES

A 2021 survey conducted by the data services company NetApp concluded that “Hybrid Cloud Is the Future,” with 75 percent of survey respondents planning to operate a hybrid cloud environment for the foreseeable future. Respondents listed the top three most important business benefits of hybrid cloud as faster innovation (26 percent), responsiveness to customers (25 percent) and increased collaboration (22 percent).

So what is the forecasted use of cloud services in the coming years? Growth and increased cloud investments are a near certainty, especially when more than 60 percent of the market share is in North America and cloud services are booming in China. Video streaming and gaming will likely continue to grow. With additional emphasis and reliance on AI and machine learning to automate cloud processes, investments will continue to grow, leading to a sunny forecast for the future.

The overall cloud forecast is quite positive in both public and private environments. While it’s difficult to provide a precise forecast, certainly the perspectives provided offer an emerging picture of what’s on the horizon for cloud computing.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *