Key cloud computing trends for 2017 include accelerated adoption, a greater focus on cost monitoring, increased use of the cloud for big data, and more

Over the last few years, cloud computing has helped enterprises become more agile, cut costs, and increase organizational flexibility.

2016 was a watershed year, as more and more companies have migrated to the cloud and big players such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, IBM, Google, and others battled for market share.

Cloud computing will continue to evolve in 2017, as will the ways enterprises leverage cloud  technology.

Below are 10 trends we predict will happen in cloud computing next year (click on the links to jump to specific sections):

  1. Cloud adoption will accelerate significantly
  2. There will be a move away from purely private cloud environments
  3. More focus will be placed on cost monitoring
  4. More enterprise apps will be run in the cloud
  5. Security will continue to be a priority
  6. The use of containers will increase immensely
  7. More companies will leverage the cloud for big data
  8. Improvement in lift-and-shift tools will make migration easier
  9. More companies will use multiple cloud providers
  10. There will be increased use of serverless architectures

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1) Cloud adoption will accelerate significantly

2016 has been a great year for the cloud, as Gartner projects that the public cloud services market will grow 17.2 percent to $208.6 billion by year’s end.

2017 will be even better.

While enterprises understand the benefits of moving to the cloud, many still haven’t pulled the trigger on a migration.

As the cloud continues to mature, IT departments’ comfort level with moving to cloud computing will increase. Public cloud service providers are constantly improving their offerings and addressing concerns such as security and monitoring.

This, combined with ever-improving feature sets, will provide assurance to companies that migration to the cloud is safe and beneficial.

Therefore, we expect the growth of cloud services to explode in 2017 and exceed the growth we’ve seen this year.

 

2) There will be a move away from purely private cloud environments

Private clouds are attractive to CIOs because they can leverage the benefits of cloud computing while having more control over their infrastructure.

While private clouds bring benefits such as enhanced security and compliance, many CIOs discover that these benefits are often outweighed by the increase in cost and time that it takes to manage private cloud operations.

Thus, we believe more companies will eschew purely-private cloud infrastructure in favor of hybrid environments.

That’s not to say that the use of private clouds will decrease as a whole.

Rather, we believe that the use of private clouds will continue to increase and follow the trend that Rightscale revealed in their State of the Cloud report, where users of private clouds grew from 63% to 77% of respondents.

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Hybrid cloud use is increasing, while private cloud only will continue to decrease. Photo courtesy of Rightscale

It’s just that more private clouds will be used in conjunction with public clouds.

More companies using private-only clouds will realize the cost benefits of the public cloud and that not all of their data and applications need to be in the private cloud. Thus, they will leverage the public cloud for some of their workload and abandon fully-private clouds.

3) More focus will be placed on cost monitoring

While the pay-as-you-go model is a powerful benefit of public cloud computing, costs for extremely large workloads can get pretty high and even exceed costs of on-premise environments if you’re not careful.

Because of this, we see a big shift of focus toward monitoring costs in order to lower expenses and maximize ROI.

Once your IT department moves to the cloud and your operations reach steady-state, you can focus more on managing and optimizing the costs of this new environment.

If you use Amazon Web Services, tools such as Cost Explorer, CloudWatch, and Budgets can help you model your potential costs and monitor cloud usage.

Other companies like Cloudyn and Cloudability have developed specific software that focus solely on monitoring cloud costs, regardless of the cloud provider that you use.

Cost monitoring will be an important priority in 2017 as companies’ cloud environments mature.

4) More enterprise apps will be run in the cloud

CIOs are becoming more comfortable with building products that are powered by cloud computing, and this comfort level will continue to trickle down to their own enterprise applications.

Therefore, we expect to see more and more mission-critical business applications being moved to and run in the cloud in 2017.

Microsoft has long been the choice of many companies for enterprise applications such as Windows, SharePoint, and Exchange for email, and more and more companies are running these applications on AWS.

Cardinal Health runs machine analytics software Splunk on AWS to analyze and monitor their IT operations.

Kellogg’s runs ERP software SAP on the AWS cloud (links to a video).

CIOs are finding that the benefits that come from building customer apps in the cloud, such as flexibility, agility, and lower cost, are applicable to business-critical enterprise apps as well.

5) Security will continue to be a priority

Security has always been a concern for companies migrating to the cloud. And with all of the big hacks that occurred in 2016, enterprises who rely on cloud computing will continue to focus on securing their environments.

Security of data and systems in the cloud continues to be a concern for 70% of  IT professionals, up from 63% in 2015. We fully expect security to remain a concern in 2017.

The good news is that cloud providers are constantly improving their offerings so that you can implement security within every layer of your infrastructure.

AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, and many other cloud providers have dedicated a large amount of resources to build robust identity management features, threat monitoring tools, and much more functionality to ensure all layers of your infrastructure are protected.

So while security should and will remain an issue, cloud providers are working hard to ensure your infrastructure is safe.

6) The use of containers will increase immensely

The use of containers in production environments has accelerated in 2016, and we expect that growth to continue next year.

Containers allow developers to run and deploy software reliably when ported from one computing environment to another.

With containers, you can easily package an application’s code, dependencies, libraries, and configuration files together to ensure that the application runs consistently regardless of whether it lives on a developer’s laptop, on a physical machine in a data center, or in the public cloud.

The value proposition of containers is so strong, and container providers like Docker and CoreOS will continue to improve their offerings.

And Forrester predicts that Linux containers will be available in every major public and private cloud platform by early 2017, which will only increase their usage.

7) More companies will leverage the cloud for big data

One of the most underrated uses of cloud computing is to store, access, and analyze large amounts of data.

Whether big data is being used to analyze customer behavior, monitor IT operations, or assess product performance, there’s no doubt that your company can benefit from this data.

The question is whether you can access, process, and analyze all of this data fast enough to be able to glean insights and make changes.

That’s where the cloud comes in.

Cloud providers all have database offerings, such as AWS’s DynamoDB, RDS, Redshift, and others to store all of this data. And these companies are building tools like Kinesis that allow you to easily process real-time data in the cloud so you can make better and faster decisions.

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Kinesis for real-time data. Image courtesy of Amazon.

More and more companies will realize that cloud computing is critical to the speed and agility that is necessary for big data analysis, and will look to move more of their data over to the cloud.

8) Improvement in lift-and-shift tools will make migration easier

There are a number of ways you can move your applications to the cloud.

The simplest way is the “lift and shift” model, where a company takes an application and essentially replicates it in the cloud, with minimal customization.

We don’t necessarily recommend this approach because it doesn’t allow you to take full advantage of what the cloud has to offer. But we do believe that more companies will adopt this model as a first step to get started with the cloud. And overall, that is a good thing.

AWS has tools that allow you to easily move data to S3 or Glacier.  Microsoft Azure has products like Azure Remote App and Azure AD Domain Services to manage authentication when moving to their cloud. Google has tools and a partner network to easily facilitate cloud disaster recovery and migration.  

And these migration offerings are only getting better.

Thus, more and more companies will take advantage of these low-cost, lift-and-shift resources to move some of their infrastructure to the cloud, which will help accelerate cloud adoption.

 

9) More companies will use multiple cloud providers

The huge cloud computing providers like AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud provide so many powerful tools that address nearly everything you need in a cloud solution.

Yet IT pros will continue to be wary of vendor lock-in and avoid becoming so dependent on a single cloud computing provider.

Thus, the use of multiple clouds will increase.  

There are certainly drawbacks to employing a multi-cloud strategy.

Cloud providers build products that interoperate seamlessly, and you won’t be able to take advantage of that. You’ll need to manage numerous vendors and may have to substantially configure your apps to account for multiple cloud standards.

Yet companies have legitimate fears of vendor lock-in. Prices might increase, customer service levels might decrease, and performance might decline.

More companies will want to hedge their bets and go with multiple cloud providers in 2017.

10) There will be increased use of serverless architectures

While still in its early stages, serverless architectures are garnering much more interest, and we believe this interest will continue to grow in 2017.

The term “serverless” is a bit of a misnomer, as these applications still run on a server in the cloud.

The differences are that you don’t have to provision, scale, and maintain servers (this will be handled by your cloud provider) and that your apps are independent functions that respond to events. Thus, you will only be charged when these events occur and your app can scale automatically.

A startup aptly named Serverless recently raised $3 million to build out these offerings on top of AWS Lambda and eventually with other cloud services.

Serverless architectures will enable speedier app development and lower cost, two factors that will be extremely attractive to large and small companies alike in 2017.

Over to you

2016 was great for cloud computing, but 2017 is shaping up to be massive.

There will be a number of cloud developments in the coming year, specifically:

  1. Cloud adoption will accelerate significantly
  2. There will be a move away from purely private cloud environments
  3. More focus will be placed on cost monitoring
  4. More enterprise apps will be run in the cloud
  5. Security will continue to be a priority
  6. The use of containers will increase immensely
  7. More companies will leverage the cloud for big data
  8. Improvement in lift-and-shift tools will make migration easier
  9. More companies will use multiple cloud providers
  10. There will be increased use of serverless architectures

What do you think will happen in cloud computing in 2017? Please leave your thoughts in the comments.