The cloud has been a crucial part of corporate computing in recent years, and it appears that it will remain an IT mainstay heading into the 2017 and beyond. This, however, doesn't mean the market won't see certain disruptions, especially when it comes to businesses' creative use of their off-premise resources as well as those providing those services.
Overall, the cloud market and the ways in which the technology is utilized by enterprises is poised for a considerable shift in 2017. Let's take a look at what will remain unchanged and what will emerge surrounding cloud computing in the months to come:
A main driver of cloud adoption in recent years has been this technology's ability to support a range of mission-critical business goals, from heightened security and compliance to increased user satisfaction. According to Forbes contributor Louis Columbus, this important aspect of cloud computing will be maintained by businesses in 2017.
Columbus, reporting on Computerworld's Tech Forecast survey, noted that nearly half – 47 percent – of companies seek to boost employee productivity and efficiency over the next 12 months. In addition, 46 percent are also focused on improving the customer experience, driven by efforts in the IT department.
"The cloud market and the ways in which the technology is utilized by enterprises is poised for a considerable shift in 2017."
One of the best ways to address these areas is with cloud technologies. The cloud, along with other as-a-service offerings, have been proven to support the customer experience through enhanced employee productivity. This is a main reason cloud and SaaS skills are among the most in-demand by businesses. In order to achieve efficiency and user satisfaction, organizations require individuals that can properly and expertly interact with their cloud platforms.
In the past, security concerns created hesitation that for some organizations, stood in the way of their adoption. Now, however, these worries have been mostly quelled with business leaders, as they realize that data protection does not take a hit when assets are migrated to a cloud environment.
Now, however, IT administrators and enterprise stakeholders are shifting their focus to compliance. This is a particularly essential consideration in industries including health care, retail and law enforcement where specific standards exist that can impact organizations' use of cloud solutions.
"Organizations moving to the cloud need to be able to demonstrate and provide assurance that they are doing things in a secure and compliant manner," Evident.io CEO Tim Prendergast told Talkin' Cloud. "So, whether it is PCI, HIPAA, NIST-800 53 or internal compliance standards, organizations need to be able to demonstrate that they can maintain compliance throughout the fast-pace of change that takes place in the cloud."
Prendergast noted that utilizing an automated monitoring solution within the cloud environment can help meet certain compliance needs that could be holding back full adoption. In addition, it's also important to consider the cloud vendor being utilized – some market leaders including Microsoft have paid special attention to security and compliance within their cloud solutions, helping to ensure that an off-premise environment won't hinder sector compliance.
Speaking of cloud vendors, one of the largest shifts expected to take place in 2017 is rising competition among service providers. This will have numerous impacts on business users, including changes in service costs to support market leadership, as well as other perks aimed at attracting new customers and retaining existing corporate users.
When it comes to competition in this marketplace, eyes typically turn to Amazon Web Services, a historic leader in the sector. Now that more vendors have entered the market with robust solution suites, however, AWS leading position isn't as concrete as it used to be.
"2017 will not be a walk in the park for Amazon largely because at least some of those tech rivals … have gotten their acts together, building data centers worldwide, and investing heavily in their public cloud services," noted Fortune contributor Barb Darrow.
Microsoft's Azure platform, in particular, is making considerable headway in the market, ascending the tech leader to the number two spot behind AWS.
Competition of this kind may be tough on service providers, but offers considerable advantages for customers. With more choices available, business leaders can be smart about their cloud investments, ensuring that the vendor and solution they deploy truly aligns with their enterprise needs.
It's also interesting to see how businesses are leveraging the cloud environments included within their critical infrastructure. Experts have much to say on this matter, and many predict that 2017 will bring an end to hesitant cloud adoption, and will instead spur more holistic, all-in cloud strategies. In this way, investments will not only increase in cloud services, but in software-, platform- and infrastructure-as-a-service as well.
"2016 saw an increase in the adoption of cloud services, but now users are going to raise expectations," Mark Plettenberg, product manager at Login VSI, told Talkin' Cloud. "More and more organizations are noticing that you either go completely to the cloud or you stay on premises since it's just not an ideal situation to use a hybrid 'half-and-half' approach."
As business leaders remove fears concerning migrating certain workloads to the cloud, multi-cloud strategies will become the norm. In such a configuration, IT admins can help ensure that each type of workload is supported by the specific cloud environment that matches needs for performance, efficiency and security.
"[W]e'll see more companies formulate explicit multi-cloud strategies to best leverage and coordinate multiple cloud providers," Rackspace CEO John Engates said. "However one gets there, a multi-cloud world comes with a unique set of challenges, including the need for expertise across a larger range of cloud technologies."
This will require coordination and careful management, but will help enterprises get the most out of their cloud investments.
When it comes time to expand cloud use, it's imperative to leverage the services of an expert vendor. iT1 Source has partnered with some of the top names in the IT industry – including Microsoft – to build out a robust solution portfolio to meet today's enterprise needs. To find out more about how iT1 can help support your business's cloud needs, contact us today.