Predictions for Cloud Platforms 2022

Over the last few years (20192020), I shared my thoughts on how cloud platforms may evolve and shared my predictions on key changes and direction of innovation. This doesn’t mean that the predictions will happen in that year, the predictions could be over the coming years. My predictions are based on my interactions with customers, industry SMEs and partners where I see the challenges, how cloud platforms are leveraged, and the vendors investments.

Here are my thoughts for 2022!

Multi-cloud for the wrong reasons

I mentioned multi-cloud in my post in 2019. This time I am looking at the reasons driving multi-cloud strategy. Multi-cloud is mentioned in many conversations, conferences, presentation and IT strategies. Multi-cloud strategy is considered for many reasons. However, I see that multi-cloud strategies are considered some times for ill-constructed reasons or the wrong reasons. Let me address two of the common reasons I hear.

Vendor Lock-in

Enterprises decide to follow a multi-cloud strategy to avoid “vendor lock-in” i.e. to avoid being locked-in to a cloud provider. Going through a cloud migration and transformation journey is a huge undertaking, and a long-term commitment. Hence, selecting the right vendor is important because most probably you are going to spend years working with that vendor and may be decades (I don’t know how cloud will look like in 20 years!). After all, Cloud is the platform for your enterprise IT so entertaining the idea that overnight you can give notice and hire a moving company to package and move to a new house is far from reality.

Also, vendor lock-in is a one type of lock-in. Gregor Hohpe discussed other types in his article Don’t get locked up into avoiding lock-in like Product Lock-in, Version Lock-in, Legal Lock-in…etc.

Architecture Lock-in is a famous example we are facing in IT, when you decide a certain architecture pattern for a new application and you get locked-in for years!

I encourage CIOs and CTOs to reconsider their definition for vendor lock-in and how they perceive “vendor lock-in” within the other types of lock-ins and embrace the long-term relationship.

Availability

I have seen conversations online that cite cloud outages as a reason for multi-cloud strategy. I don’t agree with this because any architecture must be ready for platform failures. Werner Vogels, Amazon CTO, said “Everything fails all the time”. You need to think about your architecture resiliency, high availability. AWS offers services over multiple availability zones or regions. The AWS Well-Architected helps cloud architects build secure, high-performing, resilient, and efficient infrastructure for a variety of applications and workloads.

If you spread your workloads across multiple cloud platforms, you are increasing the architecture and operations complexity and not directly addressing availability challenges.

Things to consider when you are thinking of multi-cloud

Skills and talent:

Architects, developers and engineers need to be fluent in more than one cloud platform. It is difficult to get your head around a single platform, what about two or three platforms. When I was a developer, it was not easy to be fluent in many development languages!

Operating model:

You need to think about your operating model, operation processes, and the choices for observability, management, security, and governance cross the multi-cloud operations. This will stretch your team and adds complexity to your operation producers. Do you agree?

Value realisation:

Enterprises think of multi-cloud as an exit strategy so when the business wants to move from a cloud vendor the other, it can be done. In order for this strategy to work, Architects will always have to consider “cloud portability” in the architecture. Portability will push you towards decisions like avoiding cloud native services or avoiding capabilities that don’t exist in the other provider. These decisions push the architects to settle for the lowest common denominator among the selected cloud providers, and the architectures will not benefit from the new innovations.

Connectivity

Enterprises are investing in cloud adoption. Connectivity is a key consideration. What is the latency, what if the available region is far, bandwidth requirements…etc.

Investments in connectivity is an important factor in increasing cloud adoption and unlocking new workloads and use cases. Werner Vogels included ubiquitous connectivity in his 2022 predictions citing Amazon’s Project Kuiper of delivering fast, affordable broadband to unserved and underserved communities around the world. Telco providers are investing in 5G infrastructure, and AWS announced its new Private 5G service.

Unlocking connectivity constraints will unleash another level of cloud value and increase adoptions.

Data mobility and Open Data APIs

Data is the centre of gravity of any workload and it is a value creation for business. Businesses start with a business model, and using the data they collected, they are capable of offering new services, and value added to their clients. Data in cloud platforms takes many shapes and formats, and with the virtually unlimited compute and storage in public cloud, Data is more valuable.

I predict the growth in investments in offering services to smoothly move data between cloud platforms, creation of virtual data mesh across platforms, which will offer data to consumers through Open data APIs. This will be offered as a service for Enterprises to unleash the power of the data and enables new business models.

Definitely data privacy and security will be a key topic for this!

Continuous abstraction of cloud services

In 2006, AWS started with EC2 instances and continued the innovation and abstractions of services for builders. For example, the introduction of Lambda services removed the worry about any infrastructure to execute code. Moving up the application stack will continue and becomes faster. In re:Invent 2021, AWS introduced Amazon Redshift Serverless to run analytics at any scale without having to manage data warehouse infrastructure. I expect abstraction will continue across services and abstraction will go up in the platforms stack, where we see services are integrated and abstracted from builders then they can focus on the business problems rather than the plumbing.

I would love to hear your opinions. Do you agree or disagree with these predictions or do you have other observations to share?

“Opinions expressed are solely my own and do not express the views or opinions of my employer.”

Predictions for Cloud Platforms 2020

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Last year I shared my predictions for Cloud platforms on 2019. They were focused on three points Multicloud, cross workloads integration and development of cloud governance models.

In 2019, Multicloud becomes a recognised term and #multicloud is commonly used hashtag on twitter, with many conferences and events running all over the world to discuss how multicloud can help businesses (IDC MultiCloud Summit 2019VMWare and Pivotal committed to multicloud)

In my opinion, Multicloud is still at its early stages and on the diffusion on the innovation model, it is still in the innovators phase and getting closer to the early adopters phase!

In a couple of days it is the end of 2019, and the end of a decade of a furious war between cloud providers. We have seen innovation from AWS and Microsoft for around 13 years and 10 years respectively that transformed the shape of the industry and cloud technologies.

I see the next decade is about serverless and portability! My predictions for next year (may be years)

Multicloud will grow and moves to mainstream

CTO and IT Directors will continue exploring Multicloud. Discussions and design patterns around Multicloud will continue to grow in the industry. Many vendors will start developing services, products and solutions around the Multicloud models. These services are required to deliver design patterns, operating models, technical architectures, management tools…etc

Whether we agree or not, the key drivers for Multicloud would be to avoid vendor lock-in and benefit from the strengths of other cloud platforms.

It will be easier to go to Multicloud

Death of “Lift and Shift” and the rise of “Hybrid Cloud” – Less workloads will move as-is to the cloud, more Apps modernisation

Nearly two-thirds of companies report they have not achieved expected cloud benefits (Accenture June 2019). It has been challenging for many enterprises to realise the benefits of the cloud. In my opinion that this is due to two main reasons:

  1. The business case of the cloud was always about cost reduction rather than supporting business objectives.
  2. The operations and architecture of cloud platforms are different from traditional data centers architectures. Applications design should be different to benefit from the cloud capabilities

Most enterprises started by lift and shift of workloads without any re-architecture to the cloud (let’s scoop them and move ASAP) and they realised that costs could be more expensive especially for mission critical workloads and that requires high availability. Also, they have been hit by different types of challenges on how to secure the cloud environments and dealing with an underlying stack that is owned and managed by the cloud provider.

I see over the next year, the lift and shift will start to fade out. Hybrid Cloud will rise! Enterprises will leave existing workloads on-premise, setup a hybrid architecture, and develop new workloads on the cloud using modern cloud native architecture patterns (Serverless!).

I see a new pattern for moving to the cloud to become more prominent. I call it “Peeling the Onion” pattern :). It is the flow explained above and I will discuss it in a separate article

Hybrid setup -> New workloads go to the cloud -> old workloads stay on premise till decommissioning or modernise on the cloud.

Cloud Portability – the rise of new tools and services to move workloads across cloud platforms

With the growth of Multicloud and increase of the maturity of its architectures and tools, Enterprises will be looking to be easily move workloads between different cloud platforms to benefit from new features, new contract terms…etc.

I understand this may sound outrageous as usually changes in applications and architectures are not that frequent. However, since more enterprises are pushing to be more agile and the modern cloud architecture and based on services (i.e. Lego blocks) that are integrated together, I see that there will be a need to move between cloud providers for different reasons and sometime moving parts of applications to a cloud e.g. move the analytics stack to cloud B and leave operational stack on cloud A.

With these needs on the horizon, and the adoption of new open standards for cloud services like the Open Application Model developed between Microsoft and Alibaba Cloud for developing and operating applications on Kubernetes. it will be easier to cross the river to the other side!

The development of open standards for different types of services (e.g. serverless, bots, containers, storage, data lake…etc) will unlock new opportunities. There will be new services and tools that would allow the workloads to move seamlessly or upgrades based on these standards. May be a new startup idea here!

I use the analogy of changing my gas and electricity provider every year using a comparison website (without a single phone call!). The experience for me is seamless and hassle free which was not achievable years ago.

Conclusion

My predictions may not necessarily be only for 2020! It may take more years to be realised. The winner who is going to pick up on the weak signals of change and adopt their services, operations and business objectives to benefit from the upcoming changes.

It’s Not the Big That Eat the Small…It’s the Fast That Eat the Slow – Jason Jennings

Disclaimer – Opinions expressed are solely my own and do not express the views or opinions of my employer.

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Predictions for Cloud platforms 2019

2018 has been a busy year with a furious competition between the major cloud providers (Top cloud providers 2018: How AWS, Microsoft, Google, IBM, Oracle, Alibaba stack up | ZDNet) to provide new features, lower the entry barriers and figure out what is the next innovation?!

With a huge focus on Machine Learning, Cognitive Services and IOT, The cloud providers are looking to differentiate themselves to avoid (delay) the price war, increase penetration and accelerate adoption.

In my opinion, next year(s) will see a slight shift in the market demands and the rise of new cloud models. I started to signs of this change and weak signals of the future trajectory of the cloud market.

Multi-Cloud – Many enterprise organisations are looking to adopt more than one cloud platform.

There are several reasons for this

  1. Diversification: Enterprises are trying to avoid vendor lock-in and sometimes it is pushed by procurement policies so that the IT Infrastructure is not dependent on one vendor
  2. Leverage Individual Strengths: Each Cloud provider is trying to differentiate by highlighting particular strengths from the other vendors. Microsoft are pushing Hybrid Cloud, Intelligent Cloud, Edge for IOT and PaaS. Google are playing on the big data and AI workloads. AWS are relying on the strength within the start-ups market, IaaS and Machine learning. Enterprise are looking to pick the right cloud for the workload. Although most of the cloud providers can do all workload with strengths, approaches. It is furious race!
  3. Disaster Recovery: Especially for mention critical workloads, Enterprises look to have an element of disaster recovery in case of the main cloud provider has serious issues, they can use another infrastructure.

Cross-Cloud migration/Integration – Enterprises are looking to be able to move between cloud providers and integrate workloads across clouds

Following from the multi-cloud strategy, Enterprises will look to build integrations and networks between workloads across cloud providers. This will require a lot of design work and security planning, and I wonder if the cloud providers would facilitate or slow down this from happening.

As the competition gets stronger, Enterprise will request to move workloads across cloud providers to benefit from additional features, better prices…etc. This like any other IT products when client wants to change CRM platform or database…etc.

On the back of this, I see many Third-party tools will appear in the market to facilitate the migration between cloud providers, and as these tools get more robust, the move between cloud providers will be easier and this would add more pressure on the cloud providers to ensure their clients don’t leave them!

Governance – new and enhanced operating models are needed to manage Clouds

Traditional data centre or virtualized environments management is different from Cloud. The operating model, governance, quality gates and cost management are different. I see with the rise of PaaS adoption where you cannot have a limit on the maximum usage (e.g. number of messages goes through a queue or read/writes on a database), the cost management for usage-based services will be a huge topic, and it requires different ways of planning, control and management.

These are my personal views and I would love to hear your opinions and views the cloud next year.

Happy New Year!

Disclaimer – all views are mine and doesn’t represent my employer or any cloud provider.