DevOps, Cloud

In this post, we’re going to give you a sneak preview of what we believe are the five top cloud computing trends for 2018.

So let's spin up the crystal ball, and jump right in.

1. The Cloud Gets Bigger as Enterprises Weigh In

2017 saw rapid growth in cloud computing and cloud use at all levels. In 2018, it is predicted that AWS, GCP and Microsoft Azure will generate 76% of all cloud revenue, with the overall market increasing in size from $146bn to $178bn, compared to the previous year.

One of the key factors in this growth will be increased enterprise involvement in the cloud. Forrester predicts that over 50% of global enterprises will depend on at least one public cloud platform as part of their digital transformation projects.

Many enterprises were initially hesitant about moving important IT operations into the cloud. They were reluctant to relinquish on-premises control of major applications and the infrastructure which hosted them.

By now, however, an increasing number of enterprises have developed sufficient confidence in the cloud to rely on cloud-based hosting for major business management applications, high volume data storage, and other core business IT functions.

It’s not whether enterprises go to the cloud. It’s when and how much.

2. Enterprises Discover the Importance of Cloud-Native and Develop New Operating Models

It’s very easy to fall into the trap of trying to justify migrating to the cloud on the basis of maximizing the efficiency of your current operating model. But lifting and shifting a legacy application to the cloud is an effective method for getting the worst of both the cloud and on-premises - you need to actually change how you work.

In 2018, enterprises will really discover the importance of developing new operating models (Agile, DevOps, DevSecOps etc.) that are better suited to the scalable, distributed nature of the cloud. This way enterprises can focus more on how they develop software and what the cloud is providing to enable that change, rather than viewing it as just the next place to put your workloads, is the key to becoming a better business.

3. The Hybrid Cloud Gets Bigger

Research firm IDC estimates that traditional data centers currently account for 62% of IT infrastructure spending, with 23% going to public cloud and 15% going to private cloud. By 2020, data centers will drop to account for 50% of the market with public cloud at just under a third of the market and private cloud capturing 20%.

Which means that hybrid cloud will be a central feature of the IT landscape for the foreseeable future as both public and private cloud markets grow.  

We see major cloud providers jostling to cater to this growing need, with Microsoft launching Azure Stack and AWS partnering with VMWare to deliver an on-demand hybrid cloud service.

A further sign of the importance of hybrid cloud is the arrival of public cloud services in the data center. On-prem and hybrid serverless offerings are being introduced by the likes of Microsoft and Red Hat.

4. Specialized Applications Move into the Cloud

In some ways, the cloud has been characterised from its very start by applications designed for very specialized purposes.

But what we will see more of in 2018 and beyond are the kinds of applications which are designed to provide specific kinds of services to small, niche markets. These will include specialized scientific and engineering software, databases containing narrowly targeted information, and sites that provide data and services aimed at small and highly specialized groups in the academic world, government, and industry.

Why do we see this as a coming trend? Largely because the cloud provides a highly configurable, inexpensive, and wide-reaching platform for such services, one which includes all of the necessary resources required for development, support and deployment.

The need for specialized, niche applications has always been there. Up until recently, however, they’ve generally been distributed through more traditional channels (physical disks, and later, downloadable install files), which have tended to limit their availability, and to impose an often restrictive pricing and licensing model.

By moving to the cloud, these applications can reach a much wider audience, with much more manageable and affordable pay-as-you-go or subscription pricing.

5. The Cloud, Virtual Reality, Everyday Reality, and The Internet Of Things Will Begin to Merge, at Least at the Edges

The boundary between the desktop and cloud environments will not be the only one to blur, or be erased entirely. Virtual reality and augmented reality are already connected to the cloud. Even something as simple as Pokemon Go was, for many people, a genuine step into the world of cloud-based augmented reality. There's no obvious separation between the Internet of Things (which is likely to become the Internet of Everything) and the cloud.

At some point in the future, the distinctions which we recognize today between the natural, physical world, the world of intelligent physical objects, and the virtual world are likely to become irrelevant, or even impossible to make. When that happens, there will be no clear boundary between everyday experience and the cloud.

We're a long way from that point in 2018, but we'll likely be a few steps closer to it. And at some point, probably without much fanfare, and possibly without anyone even consciously noticing it, what we call augmented reality today will simply become reality, pure and simple.

But that is for the somewhat farther future. In the meantime, the world of cloud computing in the year 2018 will offer more than enough to keep us all busy.

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  • Benjamin Wootton

    Co-Founder and CTO

    Benjamin Wootton is the Co-Founder and CTO of Contino. He has worked with tens of enterprise organisations on DevOps transformation and is a hands-on DevOps engineer with expertise in cloud and containers.

    More Articles by Benjamin