2022 Predictions: 5 Hot Trends in Cloud Computing
From a shift in adoption strategy to an increased focus on automation and sustainability, WWT’s Cloud Practice predicts what is likely to materialize in the ever-fluid world of cloud computing.
Thanks to a pandemic-fueled pivot to hybrid work and digital-centric services that span industries, cloud computing has witnessed an unprecedented two years of growth. 2022 shouldn’t do much to hinder this trend given the success of cloud as an operating model in today’s digital world.
While predicting the future of cloud technology may seem imprudent given how quickly the space can change, we think it’s a useful exercise for businesses to consider some of the trends that could materialize in the coming year.
Without further ado, here are the top trends we’re keeping an eye out for in 2022:
1. A shift from “cloud-first” to “purpose-fit for cloud” as markets mature
For more than a decade, cloud adoption and migration strategies have primarily toed the line of a “cloud-first” approach. Under a cloud-first mentality, we’ve seen organizations attempt to move all or most of their infrastructure to public cloud platforms hosted by AWS, Google Cloud or Microsoft Azure — often with mixed results.
WWT expects organizations to increasingly shift away from a cloud-first approach in 2022 and beyond.
Instead, we think organizations will adopt a more realistic “purpose-fit for cloud” approach. Under this more practical mentality, business and IT leaders will be more strategic about:
- Selecting the appropriate cloud deployment model.
- Determining which applications and workloads get shifted to the cloud and which remain on-premises.
- How they optimize cloud environments with the goal of perpetually maturing their cloud capabilities to meet ever-shifting market and consumer demands.
2. More automated IT Operations via AI and ML
Not long ago, the fundamental question facing companies was whether they should migrate their workloads to the cloud. In 2022, that debate is mostly moot. A quick glance at cloud adoption statistics and trends indicates that more than 85 to 90 percent of businesses already have some cloud presence. With more companies than ever relying on cloud — and no signs of a slowdown in adoption — we predict the fundamental question facing organizations will quickly shift to how they architect, optimize and streamline IT environments to extract the full value of their investment in cloud technology.
In answering this new question, we anticipate organizations will increasingly invest in AIOps, MLOps and APM — all of which grease the wheel of digital transformation by changing how people, processes and technology function together within an IT Operations organization. Methodologies like these not only help IT teams work smarter and faster via automation, but they can also help companies achieve more self-healing IT environments in which threats are mitigated in real time, lessening reliance on human review and associated errors.
We predict the biggest growth area in this space will involve artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) models, which cloud-based native services will increasingly leverage to help data scientists do their jobs better.
Due to the growing interest in applying AI/ML to cloud environments, customers should be aware that there will be tradeoffs involved when deciding where you train and deploy these models (e.g., at the edge, on premises, in a public or hybrid cloud environment, etc.). Understanding the pros and cons of these decisions will help ensure you make the right decision for your business.
3. Security, resiliency and sustainability become mainstays of every cloud conversation
As cybersecurity threats continue to evolve, public cloud outages become more widely publicized, and cloud service providers become increasingly aware of the impacts of climate change on business models and customer experience, we believe every cloud conversation going forward will inevitably involve the distinct topics of cloud security, resiliency and sustainability.
- Security: As more critical workloads and sensitive data migrate to the cloud, CISOs and business leaders alike will continue to ask IT: “How can I best protect my data?” In 2022, the answer will likely involve being more strategic about how cloud environments are built and workloads migrated. 2022 will be the year of shifting from reactive IT environments to ones that are more proactive, able to anticipating and mitigate issues in as close to real time as possible.
- Resiliency: If they haven’t already, consumers will increasingly realize how reliant they are on cloud services. Whether its reliable streaming from a Netflix or Disney+, instant money transfers via Venmo or PayPal, or smart-home and IoT services from a Ring or Nest, customers haven’t been shy about venting their displeasure when one of their relied-on devices stops functioning due to a cloud provider outage. And because it’s not a question of if but when the next outage will occur, we predict companies will be laser focused in 2022 on what to do from an IT preparedness and remediation standpoint to minimize downstream impact on their customers.
- Sustainability: This past year, we witnessed the issue of sustainability pop up more and more in board meetings and business roundtables. In some cases, environmental and social governance was the central theme. We expect this energized focus on corporate sustainability will come into its own in 2022. Given the fundamental challenge facing cloud service providers in terms of operating massive data centers — contrasted with increasing industry pressure to rely less on fossil fuels — we think organizations will be more interesting in learning:
- How cloud can be architected and implemented in ways that help achieve carbon neutrality or other net-zero goals.
- How automation can reduce operational and overhead costs.
- How cloud and related technologies can help or hinder energy conservation efforts in an always-on infrastructure model.
4. Modernization becomes increasingly crucial to benefit from cloud innovations
It’s no secret that cloud service providers are all committed to innovating their platforms via new out-of-the-box tools and services that make it easier for businesses to scale and pivot. In 2022, we expect there to be significant advances in many areas of cloud computing technology.
For example, let’s consider large organizations with multiple cloud presences. We think it’ll be fascinating to see how enterprise organizations with mature cloud capabilities tweak their approach to architecting and optimizing hybrid cloud environments that feature multicloud presences. Whether these companies increasingly explore solutions like Kubernetes cross-cloud clusters, pilot new applications of cloud-natives services at the edge, or they adopt advancements in serverless computing, these innovations will no doubt make cloud environments more efficient and resistant to failure.
However, taking full advantage of innovations in cloud technology presupposes an IT environment is ready to handle the demands imposed by new technology. In reality, while many organizations would prefer to jump ahead to the point where they can immediately play with these new tools, we believe the majority of companies will realize that their immediate focus should be on establishing a solid cloud foundation and modernizing their infrastructure. Without this crucial investment in an end-to-end cloud strategy, companies risk being disenchanted by an inability to extract the full value of the cloud operating model.
5. The cloud talent gap will continue to cause issues
The growing demand of cloud solutions and services directly correlates to a growing need for experts who can deliver, operate and manage this exciting technology. However, as we’ve seen in 2020 and 2021, a general lack of cloud skills should continue to slow just how quickly enterprises are able to mature their cloud capabilities.
Finally, while WWT expects this skills gap to close eventually through self-correction — given that everyone in IT will likely need to learn how to do their job in the cloud at some point — we do expect there to be an intensifying demand for cloud professionals who are adept at presenting both business and technology use cases for cloud adoption and further investment. Why? Because enterprise-wide cloud buy-in requires convincing both C-suite and IT leaders of cloud’s short- and long-term value. Without an alignment between cloud business strategy and IT decision-making, organizations will struggle to realize the business results promised by the cloud technology.
The explosion in cloud adoption these past two years should continue well into 2022 and beyond, particularly as organizations continue to refine and scale their digital offerings and mature their cloud capabilities. In the coming year, we expect a visible shift from the outdated “cloud-first” approach to a more practical “purpose-fit for cloud.” we are confident that automation, AI and ML will play an increasingly larger roles in cloud environments. We foresee cybersecurity, resiliency and sustainability becoming increasingly prominent focus areas in cloud conversations. We think companies will realize the fundamental need to invest in infrastructure modernization if they hope to take advantage of the latest innovations in cloud technology. And we predict that cloud professionals who can speak to both the business case and the technology case for cloud will remain in incredibly high demand.