Predictions that will revolutionize the cloud game in 2022

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2020 marked a significant milestone for cloud as organizations surged to leverage the scale, agility, and flexibility of cloud platforms in order to survive or thrive during the pandemic. We saw this pattern continue during 2021.

This year, cloud adoption will accelerate even faster as organizations become more at ease with the variations and patterns of cloud and seek to leverage increased value from their investments.

Our top-five cloud predictions for 2022:

1: Cloud-native technologies and thinking will be pervasive, not just popular.

Cloud native transcends technologies or tools. It is an approach to building applications that take full advantage of cloud computing where modern technologies and ways of working are embraced to deliver immense value to organizations. However, cloud native is about how we create and deliver applications, not where, meaning that process and cultural practices must be transformed alongside the architecture patterns we develop.

In 2022, cloud native will transition from a supplementary enabler to a core component of a future-proof cloud strategy as enterprises look to bootstrap their digital strategies post-pandemic and reform after their transition to cloud models. Enterprises will look to re-evaluate their existing strategies and base them on cloud-native approaches as a first principle.

We are already seeing the technology decision signals with 64% of organizations using containers, a core architectural principle of cloud native, as their deployment target in 2021, compared to 48% using virtual machines (State of DevOps Report 2021). In fact, 95% of new applications use containers (451 Research) within their architecture today.

We will also see cloud native extend to the edge as applications are built using microservices (aka the Edge 2.0 paradigm) supported by 5G technology that will enable cloud service providers to extend cloud to their customers and deliver services in new and innovative ways. Edge computing can provide developers an environment to create innovative 5G applications across powerful use cases across industries. This will represent a need to be able to manage these new patterns (see next trend).

Delivering business improvements in more consumable increments, empowering teams, celebrating mistakes/failures, and promoting a culture of collaboration and openness are principles promoted by the DevOps/Agile movement years ago. In line with the technology shift mentioned earlier, a cloud-native mindset within the enterprise will emerge more prominently, forced by pandemic events and the need to shift priorities, cater to disruption, and transform business models.

2: Digital cloud platform strategies will remain critical, but must extend to new architecture paradigms.

Cloud adoption requires a platform strategy. Platforms allow users to take advantage of cloud native and business services in a centralized manner. Platforms are built on the principles of reusability and automation, which help digital teams save money and create more quickly.

For tech to be a real driver of innovation and growth, IT needs to reorganize itself around flexible and independent platforms. By 2025, 75% of large enterprises will build self-service infrastructure platforms to enable rapid product innovation, up from 15% in 2020. Platform features such as containers, DevSecOps tooling, monitoring tools, self-service, and identity management remain key foundational components that are developed and maintained by established platform teams. Platform features must be repeatable, standardized, and easily consumable by developers – treated as living, breathing​ sets of “products” that are iterated, updated, and maintained in line with business needs.

In 2022, we will see platform strategies shift to encompass more modern variants of edge computing (Edge 2.0), enabling the development of planet-scale applications, capturing distributed data sources, and applying AI/ML to create new and unprecedented customer experiences and industry use cases. This will place new pressure on the platform principles adopted by the enterprise to leverage unified control planes, application lifecycle tooling, distributed security, distributed data processing and embedded analytics, and software defined edge. Containers and Kubernetes will be the key platform foundation for edge architecture as recognized by the investment by the hyperscaler providers in Azure Stack, Google Anthos, and AWS Snowball Edge – all based on Kubernetes.

3: Environment, Social, Governance (ESG) is now a board-level priority and the highest growing/emerging risk, with cloud a key accelerator for ESG initiatives.

ESG is now a priority for organizations as they are tasked with reducing carbon footprints, protecting financial and social capital, and having to comply with disclosing key data around such efforts. In 2017, 85% of the S&P 500 reported sustainability efforts and in 2022 we expect this to be higher, with many smaller organizations beginning to report their efforts.

Measuring and reporting the impact has been challenging as organizations look to record their environment footprints, reduce their resource utilization, leverage carbon offsets, and replace high carbon footprints with lower ones. The sheer volume of data to be captured and the need for accuracy and precision around each of these areas has led to the hyperscalers developing APIs specifically aimed at helping provide automated, accurate, and real-time access to ESG data to turn insights into meaningful actions.

In 2021, we saw Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability announced, a SaaS offering providing a suite of tools to help enterprises measure their environmental impact. Similarly, AWS customers can now leverage AWS Data Exchange for sustainability to load data directly into S3 and analyze data sets using data and analytics and machine learning services. It also provides access to 75+ ESG data products, including third-party scores, raw company-level ESG metrics, and reporting frameworks from providers such as ArabesqueSASB, and RepRisk. AWS has also updated its Cloud Frameworks, adding a shared sustainability model and a pillar for sustainability into the AWS Well Architect Framework to help customers navigate.

4: With digital transformation driving accelerated release velocity, the focus on Service Reliability Engineering (SRE) is on the rise to ensure a secure, stable, and highly productive operations environment.

SRE practices aim to apply software engineering principles to operations in order to improve the reliability of IT systems, with a constant focus on eliminating the toil from operations teams. Many of the early adopters focused on a people- and tool-centric approach to SRE by onboarding engineering skills and making random tool investments. They continue to struggle with adoption and value realization owing to challenges arising from lack of proper process and tooling standards, inefficient operating models, and more importantly, the lack of cultural shift that was necessary for driving the change.

In 2022, we will witness enterprise-wide adoption by establishing a clear focus on the critical success pillars of SRE. The success however will depend on the organization’s ability to execute operating model shifts to align with product-centric delivery, reskilling operations teams with engineers who can code and automate, tool simplification, and rationalization for AIOPS, and focusing on hyper-automation initiatives.

5: Continue bringing cloud thinking to traditional environments.

Applying cloud thinking to traditional environments (much like the Phoenix Project) is nothing new. We have been doing this for the last 3–5 years.

In 2022, an even bigger move to continue bringing cloud thinking to traditional environments automation, CI/CD, SRE, platform thinking, “CloudOps” (i.e., operations like we do in cloud) is brought to on-prem environments. Add enhancements such as Google Anthos, Azure Stack, OpenShift and AWS Outpost – now “the public cloud” is enabled on-prem for applications that cannot currently move (e.g., for known reasons such as highly connected, very old technology, technology not available in cloud or regulatory, risk, compliance). Ultimately, applications can be prepared before the jump is made to public cloud.

The challenges are that modernizing traditional environments is sometimes even harder than moving to public cloud. Traditional environments are highly siloed with limited collaboration between silos. Many different tools, techniques and utilities have been implemented over the years and people have “commitments” to these methods (through sphere of influence, resistance to change – the normal adoption barrier we have with cloud).

The gain, however, can be very substantial. No more heroics, less unknown outages, and highly repetitive actions automated. Getting a new VM does not have to take a month (or longer) and it does not require an army to create it. Simple automation scripts or even tying together existing scripts can yield great benefits.

Special thanks to Bernard Drost & Renjith Sreekumar for contributing to the research and predictions.

Author


James Dunn
Global Head – Cloud Services,
Cloud Infrastructure Services

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