The weeks around New Year’s are in many ways our favorite time of year. There’s the first cold weather and snow, there’s the holidays and time spent with loved ones, and, of course, there’s the raft of articles predicting the trends to watch for the next year. And I don’t mean to minimize those prediction efforts—on the contrary, in an industry that moves as quickly as the cloud, they offer a great view into what trends, tech and services may be coming next. It also forces us all to think about what our organizations are doing in those areas and how we can use the tech and services to our advantage.
For 2018, I have six of my own predictions about the cloud industry that I think will have a meaningful impact on users. I’ll take a deep dive into a couple of them—security and containers—and a quicker look at market and technology trends, as well as how they might affect your company.
1. Security Stops Stopping Cloud Adoption
Valid or not, security has always been a common concern for organizations considering a move to the cloud. Given the improvements in cloud security, such concerns have been slightly overblown for a while, but they’re certainly understandable: it’s tough to give up control of something as important as security and leave it to an outside vendor.
For 2018, we’ll see many customers accept what security is in a cloud environment. Even if some organizations don’t feel that certain aspects of cloud security meet their expectations, they’ll still go to the cloud—it’ll just change what they do in the cloud. For example, companies will draw lines when it comes to cloud security. It won’t be a barrier to adoption in general, but it will be a factor in what companies choose to deploy. As the understanding of cloud security improves, companies will begin to accept what it is and adopt it as far as they feel comfortable.
2. Containers Become Another Tool in the Bag
Lots of excitement has surrounded containers over the past few years. We’ll continue to see growth in 2018; the industry isn’t mature just yet. But the thought that containers would change everything about the industry will focus elsewhere: in 2018, containers will become just another tool at developers’ disposal.
Don’t get me wrong, this change isn’t necessarily bad. Containers make provisioning and managing applications and instances much easier, and many organizations must move large amounts of data quickly, easily and nimbly between development and production—or even just for testing. This use of containers is completely valid. The value in containers is that they divide applications into bite-size pieces that allow developers more agility and give DevOps engineers greater management modularity.
So, no, maybe containers won’t change the world in 2018, but if you’re a company with large amounts of data, you’ll be happy to put them to work.
3. Object Commoditization
This may not be the sexiest prediction, but it’s one that has great ramifications for the bottom line: object storage will continue its path to commoditization. Organizations are having internal discussions about whether it matters where their data resides as long as it meets their security and performance requirements, is easily accessible and fits their budget.
With commoditization comes a big price reduction, which we’re already seeing with object storage. Another effect is that we’re starting to see more and more companies ask about getting off tape altogether—a trend that will accelerate in 2018. In large and midsize organizations, tape remains widely used, but as object-storage prices continue to drop, more and more companies will consider switching.
4. Reports of Tape’s Death Are Greatly Exaggerated
You’ll notice I didn’t say anything about the switch to object storage signifying the death of tape. It may seem counterintuitive, but we see just the opposite: in 2018, the tape’s growth rate will continue to increase, but it’ll do so on the part of service providers.
Even with object-storage improvements, there are so many ways to store data on tape and you can store so much of it—Amazon Glacier is on tape, after all. In 2018, we’ll continue to see cloud-service providers quietly adopt it as a low-cost, flexible, cheap storage method.
5. Added Value Becomes a Differentiator
Commoditization won’t just affect storage. Even in industries as seemingly new as hybrid cloud, vendors will struggle to differentiate. For providers that specialize in hybrid-cloud implementations, that differentiation will come in the value-added products and services they provide.
The whole point of hybrid clouds—and multicloud—is to put things in the cloud, or in a different cloud, depending on where they’ll be most cost effective and best performing. Hybrid-cloud providers will jump on this fact in 2018 and highlight where they add value versus competitors and other models. For example, they may provide analytics of how you spend money on the cloud to see whether it using a service offering makes sense for you.
All such features are helpful to customers struggling to understand the confusing landscape of hybrid-cloud, multicloud and traditional offerings, and vendors recognize it. Any added value on top of the core product could drive sales for the vendor that figures it out.
6. Network Shift
The biggest shift in the hybrid-cloud space will be on the network side. It might not mean huge growth or adoption, but the planning and conversations will heat up in 2018. After all, it’s the only area we haven’t been able to move, right?
Compute and virtualization are long into the maturity curve, and storage is well along the “software-defined” path, but network portability is still in the dark ages. What I expect to see in 2018 is laying of groundwork for linking networks together in 2019 or 2020.
I like to use virtualization as an example: SDN is for networks what virtualization was for compute. Now we look sideways at people who say they aren’t virtualized, but not long ago it wasn’t the case. The same thing will happen for networking. Right now, the network remains married to the device that it’s sitting on; we treat it statically. If network portability can transparently join your network to the cloud, why would you segment it the traditional way? This shift is starting in 2018, and its ramifications for hybrid clouds are exciting, to say the least.
If history holds true, a few of these predictions will prove prescient, but a few will be completely off base. What they all show—regardless of whether they come true in 2018—is that the cloud market and technology are still exciting. I can’t wait to see what the New Year brings!
About the Author
Clayton Weise is the Director of Cloud Services for Key Information Systems, where he is responsible for designing, architecting and implementing cloud solutions; managing production workloads; and employing cloud resources in disaster recovery, clustering and hybrid (cloud and on-premises) infrastructure solutions.