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AI and machine learning were hot topics in the cloud market this year, but what's to come in 2019?
We asked some of our contributors to share their cloud predictions for the new year, as well as the trends and technologies they expect to have the biggest effect on enterprise IT teams. From Kubernetes to the looming IT skills gap, here's what they had to say.
There will be two important trends in cloud in 2019. The first will be an acceleration of support for hybrid cloud, which we'll see mostly in major changes by Google to catch up with its two competitors.
Google will be combining Kubernetes and Istio with other open source tools to build a hybrid cloud framework.
The second development is related to the first: Orchestration will expand to provide infrastructure abstraction and workflow control. This will help to converge containers, VMs and serverless into a more seamless hosting framework.
For one, I foresee more public cloud vendors offering blockchain-related services. Azure was an early comer to this market and AWS has played catch-up in recent months with the introduction of services like Amazon Quantum Ledger Database. I expect more enterprise-oriented blockchain offerings from cloud vendors, even as the blockchain market as a whole faces uncertainty going into 2019.
Second, from a market perspective, I think 2019 is likely to be the year that makes or breaks Google Cloud as a major public cloud platform. Google Cloud has struggled in recent years to gain the mindshare and offer the diversity of services of its competitors. With its executive having recently stepped down, Google Cloud enters 2019 with an opportunity to set new trends. If it succeeds, it will cement its place alongside AWS and Azure as one of the "Big Three" public cloud vendors. If it does not, I don't know if there will be room for it to recover.
First, I think multi-cloud strategies will continue to drive container adoption. In a recent study, IBM reported that 98% of companies surveyed plan to operate a multi-cloud environment within the next three years. This isn't difficult to believe, given that 85% mentioned they're already running a multi-cloud deployment. Businesses will bet on the portability benefits offered by containers in an attempt to avoid vendor lock-in. Public cloud vendors will continue to invest and expand their services for running containers at scale to support production applications.
Next, I think the IT skills gap will continue to create job opportunities that won't be easy to fill. Enterprises will dive deeper into building serverless and containerized applications, as well as work to build teams that embrace DevOps practices and automation. The challenge for enterprises will be to find the right talent to support these efforts. Businesses will need to fill roles that require a broad set of skills that are currently in short supply. Training companies will continue to do well as the industry tries to close the gap.
Cloud services have been the norm for tech-savvy startups; however, they have now reached a similar level of acceptance by most organizations -- large and small. In 2019, we will see a continued push by the three major domestic cloud providers into the enterprise with features designed to improve manageability, integration with legacy, on-premise systems and networks, and compliance with various regulatory regimes around the world. A few items that should prove particularly interesting include:
- How CEO Thomas Kurian shapes Google Cloud and uses his ample experience working with large enterprises at Oracle to bolster its position in the enterprise, which has long been a weak spot for Google.
- How the Google-Cisco relationship evolves and whether the pair becomes a compelling hybrid alternative to AWS-VMware, particularly now that AWS has fully embraced on-premises infrastructure with Outposts.
- Whether Google Cloud uses its growing and successful G Suite product to sell cloud infrastructure and platform services via enterprise service bundles.
- How Microsoft responds to the strengthening AWS-VMware alliance and, given the latter's status as part of Dell, what it does to the longstanding Microsoft-Dell relationship. I could see Microsoft working more closely with Hewlett Packard Enterprise on more comprehensive hybrid cloud offerings based on Azure Stack and HPE's various compute, storage and network products.
With the rise of GDPR in Europe and data investigations in the U.S. around the Equifax Breach and Facebook, cloud providers will double down on new features and processes to manage data governance as a service. This will go beyond simply improving data localization, but provide enterprises with the ability to audit and remove user data with more granularity and precision.