Predictions 2018: How Clouds Will Continue to Evolve

eWEEK has collected some cogent observations from industry experts about how the cloud will evolve in 2018. Here are 12 of them.

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Cloud services for business and consumer usage are now routinely bought and deployed, but it wasn’t that long ago when many people cast a skeptical eye on them as being simply a fad that might blow over.

Security, access, latency, scalability—all of these posed growing pains in the beginning, but not so much anymore. Nothing is perfect, mind you, but the instances of problematic cloud offerings are waning every day. Security, of course, remains the biggest issue of all.

Major-league cloud service providers such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, IBM Cloud, Rackspace, AT&T, Verizon and dozens of others have continued to strap down security, offer virtually unlimited storage, speed up deployments and downloads and scale services to satisfy the ever-changing needs of business and the consuming public. Again, perfection isn’t in the picture, but IT as an industry is getting closer to it all the time.

eWEEK has collected some cogent observations about how cloud services will evolve in 2018. Here are 12 of them, and we may well have more in future editions.

Dimitri Stiliadis, CEO of Aporeto:

  • Acceleration of consolidation and partnerships in the cloud market: "AWS, the cloud computing juggernaut, will maintain its leadership and will continue its strategy of being the "Amazon" of the space, namely the biggest storefront where vendors of all sizes and shapes can sell value-add products on top of AWS native services.  In response, the distant second-place player, Microsoft Azure, and the very distant third-place contestant, Google Cloud Platform, will accelerate their M&A and partnership activities to create more compelling reasons for customers to choose them.  What is that compelling reason?  Familiarity with known solutions and extending existing relationships between vendors and customers - but inside the Azure or GCP cloud instead of the private data center."
  • The "Not-Hotel-Californias": "To differentiate themselves against AWS and attract more business, both Azure and GCP will make efforts to create workload portability. For self-serving reasons, these players will offer products, services that will make it easier to port workloads onto and off of their cloud services.  Their message will be simple: Unlike AWS, they are not Hotel California, where you can never leave. The messaging will become louder and clearer, and will hold true until one of these players catch up to the leader.  At that point, workload portability will no longer be in that player’s business interests." 
  • Hybrid Clouds Will be a Thing: "Although hybrid clouds have been talked about for a very long time, they will become a “thing” in 2018. As consolidations and partnerships accelerate, and as workload portability becomes an imperative for Azure and GCP, we will witness many new services where customers will be able to run their own private clouds and seamlessly connect with Azure or GCP for additional capacity on demand. Partners like Cisco, HPE, Dell, and VMware will participate in this thing wholeheartedly to ensure a prolonged revenue stream from their existing products."

Peter Guagenti, CMO, MesosphereCloud wars will continue: “Microsoft’s relentless march to take back their customers from Amazon will continue as they work to win over the hearts and minds of former Microsoft faithful. Diane Greene is transforming Google into an enterprise organization; Google Cloud has taken down software companies and digital natives; next they’ll overtake some Fortune 500 players. IBM will continue to languish, but I suspect we’ll see a dark horse in the race from one of the Chinese players, like Alibaba Cloud, who I expect will make a play for the U.S. market.”

AT&T: "In 2018, we foresee the direction of cloud computing (whether public or private) to continue toward a ubiquitous cloud environment. The direction is to have clouds where you can move applications/workloads around at will.  This is a powerful leap in cloud integration as it puts the customer in the driver’s seat." 

Paul Stephenson, Field Evangelist & Principle Systems Engineer at OVH US:  “I expect hybrid (cloud) to experience the largest growth spurt, because most companies have a legacy IT department and they can’t just change the business and systems to operate only on public cloud services. On the other hand, I believe net new companies will operation mostly in the public domain with only private/hybrid systems based on security and compliance."

Tiago Paiva, CEO at Talkdesk: Cloud contact center usage will rise above on-premise. “The shift is inevitable, but 2018 is going to be the year that cloud-based contact centers become the rule more than the exception. Cloud technology has caught up to on-prem technology regarding security and call quality, it’s only a matter of time before the ease of management and low set-up cost persuade the last old-fashioned holdouts to switch. With all the advantages of cloud-based technology platforms and the exciting future that comes with integrations, the sooner you make the switch, the better.”

Paul Martini,  CEO and Co-Founder, iboss:  “In 2018, large organizations will realize that all of the benefits they’re getting from Salesforce and Office365, like the ability to offload some of the stress on their IT teams, are just as applicable in other areas, like cybersecurity. Expect to see a massive shift to SaaS-based security solutions that help enterprises avoid large investments in hardware installations as their bandwidth requirements continue to grow.”

Seth Noble, CEO of Data Expedition:

  • “Early cloud migrations involved much experimentation, and learning by failure, requiring everyone involved to develop new tools and techniques. The pool of experts with experience in multiple migrations has now reached the threshold where 2018 can see a consolidation of best practices.”
  • “Stabilization in cloud offerings and a growing comfort level with cloud services is allowing customers and consultants to focus on features rather than logistics. In 2018, this will shift the balance of development from cloud vendors pushing what they think customers want to customers demanding what they need.”
  • “Cloud vendors have traditionally left many critical-path elements of cloud migration to customers and third-parties. This has created hidden costs to key areas such as data ingest, data organization, and application deployment. In 2018, we will see more customers demanding practical vendor solutions such as real network acceleration (not just shipping hard-drives), closing the gap between object storage and file storage, and better tools for integrating server based applications with serverless services.”

Bruce Milne, VP and CMO, Pivot3: Cloud, IoT and Edge Computing:  “Cloud and IoT are going to have a material impact on HCI across the board, especially for long-term storage. Enterprises should begin using edge-design patterns in their infrastructure architectures—particularly those with significant IoT elements. A good starting point could be using colocation and edge-specific networking capabilities."

“While it’s common to assume that cloud and edge computing are competing approaches, it’s a fundamental misunderstanding of the concepts. When implemented together, cloud is used to create the service-oriented model while edge computing offers a delivery style that allows for execution of disconnected aspects of cloud service. Large enterprises are valuing the notion of distributed—not centralized—computing, and putting remote office functionality at the edge. This is certainly true for companies that are looking to lean more heavily on IoT, or those leaning on sensors and analytics. HCI is a perfect fit for that. As IoT picks up steam in 2018, we’re going to see a lot more ROBO deployments from larger enterprises.”

Satyen Sangani, co-founder and CEO of Alation: Fear of cloud lock-in will result in cloud sprawl:
"As CIOs try to diversify investment in their compute providers, inclusive of their own on-premise capabilities, the diversification will result in data, services and algorithms spreading across multiple clouds. Finding information or code within a single cloud is tough enough. The data silos built from multiple clouds will be deep and far apart, pushing the cost of management onto humans that need to understand the infrastructure."

Be sure to save the time/date for our next #eWEEKchat on Wednesday, Dec. 13, at 11am Pacific/2pm Eastern. The topic is one of our favorites: “Predictions and Wild Guesses for IT in 2018.” Bookmark #eWEEKchat for starters; check here for further details.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor of Features & Analysis at eWEEK, responsible in large part for the publication's coverage areas. In his 12 years and more than 3,900 stories at eWEEK, he...