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How to navigate the new enterprise cloud ecosystem

The new COVID-era enterprise cloud will become more interconnected, integrated, secure, hybridized, intelligent and automated — with a more centralized infrastructure that allows for local data optimization at the edge.

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Cloud computing accelerates during COVID

We already know COVID-19 is hastening the enterprise’s move to the cloud, but what we don’t yet know for sure is what that cloud will look like a year or two from now.

In a virtual presentation last week, IDC’s Richard Villars laid out his vision of what shape enterprise cloud will take between now and 2024.

IDC predicts $6.8 trillion will be spent on IT between 2020 and 2023, and 41 per cent of that will go to cloud. Just how quickly are enterprises speeding up their cloud journeys? By the end of 2021, IDC expects 80 per cent of enterprises will put a mechanism in place to shift to cloud-centric infrastructure and apps twice as fast as before COVID-19.

“By 2023, this emerging cloud ecosystem will be the underlying platform for all IT and business automation initiatives anywhere and everywhere,” said Villars, group VP of worldwide research at IDC.

Villars listed five key steps enterprise organizations should take to become full players in this new cloud ecosystem.

1) Ensure standard but flexible security/connectivity

Attaining cloud that is more agile, integrated and interconnected won’t be a cakewalk, Villars warned.

“Through 2021, all enterprises will struggle with app modernization and data integration across hybrid [and] multi-cloud silos,” he said. “Just 20 per cent (will) adopt well-connected cloud strategies to overcome these concerns.”

As for making cloud more secure, Villars expects budgets for software-defined secure access solutions to quadruple by 2022, mainly to address weaknesses in legacy VPN solutions that have been productivity lifelines for remote workers during the pandemic.

2) Enable frictionless infrastructure and app design/deployment

Villars hinted this won’t happen unless organizations “commit to modernizing over half of existing applications by 2022.” He suggested enterprises will opt for turnkey cloud-native development and deployment services to achieve this goal.

3) Support local data collection, aggregation and transformation

Villars said organizations will strive for this while also aiming to …

4) Deliver centralized infrastructure and data control

What will make this ideal model — local data optimization happening alongside a centralized infrastructure — possible within enterprise IT? Edge computing and intelligent analytics.

“By 2024, 70 per cent of enterprises will integrate their edge-generated data with cloud-based enterprise systems to allow for real-time actioning based on IoT analytics, including AI and ML,” Villars said.

5) Prepare for the shift to autonomous IT operations/governance

Again, AI and ML will be crucial here, enabling the automation of many IT processes such as self-regulating infrastructure, AI-enhanced planning and operations, cross-cloud data management and cloud-based provisioning, optimization and control, according to Villars.

Cloud goes vertical and hybrid

Cloud goes vertical and hybrid

Two other trends of COVID-era cloud transformation jumped out during Villars’ presentation. One is a bigger focus on industry verticals.

“By 2022, enterprises will allocate 20 per cent of new cloud services spending to cloud solutions that meet specific industry and ecosystem data sharing requirements for their vertical segment,” Villars said.

The other big trend is hybrid cloud.

“Hybrid cloud has become central to successful digital transformation efforts by defining an IT architectural approach, an IT investment strategy and an IT staffing model that ensures the enterprise can achieve the optimal balance across dimensions without sacrificing performance, reliability or control,” Villars said.

His IDC colleague Chris Kanthan elaborated on the growing benefits of hybrid cloud in an August blog post.

“The Holy Grail in cloud computing is a frictionless, hybrid multi-cloud that provides a consistent experience and unified management across multiple public clouds, private clouds and even traditional infrastructure,” wrote Kanthan, research manager of IDC’s Cloud BuyerView division.

Read more:

Lessons learned from the Great Cloud Migration
Pandemic accelerates move to the cloud
5 ways to boost your cloud security practices

In case anyone isn’t clear on the definitions, Kanthan differentiates multi-cloud from hybrid cloud as follows:

  • multi-cloud: “the use of multiple public cloud providers and one or more private clouds, with varying degrees of interoperability”
  • hybrid cloud: “when all public and private clouds of an enterprise can be managed as a single unified infrastructure”

Hybrid cloud has been around for quite some time, of course, so here’s how Kanthan characterizes what he calls next-generation hybrid cloud:

  • “a seamless integration of all clouds and sometimes even non-cloud infrastructure in the data centre”
  • ability to “manage all clouds from a single dashboard”
  • “creates an infrastructure-agnostic IT environment”
  • “involves modernization of applications using containers, microservices, APIs, open source technologies, etc.”

Phew. That’s a lot to take in. In short, the new COVID-era cloud will become more interconnected, integrated, secure, hybridized, intelligent and automated, with a more centralized infrastructure that allows for local data optimization at the edge.

Enterprise cloud was already headed in those directions. A global pandemic will push it there much faster.

Images: Just_Super/iStock

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