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Three ways customers will dictate the future of the cloud

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Traditionally, organizations have been forced to adapt their applications and operating processes to public cloud models in order to recognize the full benefits. This led to mixed results as legacy applications struggle to align fully to cloud models, particularly when using lift-and-shift migration methodologies.

Because of this, the balance of power is shifting from cloud providers to customers seeking value from solutions that include both centralized and distributed cloud models. The “internet of things,” edge computing, 5G, hybrid work requirements and other use cases are driving this shift.

Gartner expects that cloud will not only be a technological approach for delivering infrastructure and applications, but will also serve as the key driver of information technology modernization and business innovation when and where the customer requires it.

Here are three customer-driven cloud scenarios for technology and service providers to embrace and advance customers’ business transformation journeys.

Cloud deployment decisions are made based on measurable outcomes

The 2021 Gartner CIO Survey found that 52% of survey respondents characterized a more strategic rather than tactical focus of IT investment as a result of COVID-19. When asked about expectations for 2021, an even greater 71% of respondents expected an increase in the strategic focus of IT investments.

Cloud services served as the bright spot throughout the entirety of the pandemic, as the organizations employing them have been able to recover more effectively and quickly from those who are not. The adaptive nature of a cloud-based approach will drive cloud spending through the next few years and make it a core aspect of business continuity.

We also know that cloud services support IT modernization strategies: In Gartner’s 2020 Cloud End-User Buying Behavior Study, nearly half of respondents identified IT modernization as one of the top three outcomes achieved by adopting cloud given its elasticity, reliability, scalability and more.

Although organizations can, and should, recognize both tactical (such as IT performance and cost efficiency) and strategic benefits (such as revenue growth and new customer acquisition) of using cloud, the focus must be to ensure that customers recognize a measurable outcome from their cloud investments.

Design and build products that produce and demonstrate the business outcomes customers care about by establishing specific, measurable outcomes associated with the offering, presented in reports and dashboards. Use customer case studies to demonstrate how cloud-based solutions help IT organizations enable and improve business outcomes.

The future of cloud will be defined by use cases, not technologies

The future of cloud will include an ever-expanding collection of technology innovations. Specifically, Gartner expects:

  • Cloud-native approaches will be used to increase cloud value.
  • Mixed environments – hybrid and multicloud – will predominate.

Cloud-native is a term used to describe technologies, architectures or operations that align with and amplify cloud capabilities. Cloud-native is a continuum and not an absolute, and such solutions adhere to cloud fundamentals: a style of computing where scalable and elastic IT-related capabilities are provided as a service to consumers using standard internet technologies.

Organizations will strive to produce greater value from cloud through cloud-native approaches. Where lift-and-shift migrations characterized cloud usage in the past, the future will demand cloud-native approaches to application architecture, infrastructure implementations, operations and delivery to unlock business demands for innovation, customer or citizen experience, and revenue growth.

In addition, hybrid scenarios will include a mix of cloud and noncloud, as well as a combination of different cloud offerings, to support modern application architectures. Multicloud is an environment where an organization specifically uses multiple cloud services for generally the same purpose.

It typically exists to support the practical needs of organizations seeking best-of-breed capabilities for specific use cases, diversifying cloud investments across cloud providers to reduce lock-in or other risks, to align with the skills of a suborganization or to provide redundancy. Multicloud may, however, be the consequences of uncoordinated cloud adoption.

Always evaluate emerging and evolving cloud technology trends while recognizing that most new cloud innovations will be introduced into environments with existing cloud and noncloud technology. Since hybrid and multicloud are de facto requirements today and will remain so in the future, embrace the continual requirements of both environments while planning for future cloud offerings.

Distributed use cases will drive future cloud deployments

The move to digital business requires organizations to support the applications, data and operating processes throughout their environments, including use cases supported by both centralized IT services and those operating in a distributed environment.

Public cloud services have largely serviced applications that can be migrated to a centralized public cloud. Public cloud data centers operating in different countries and regions have provided organizations more options regarding cloud deployment locations but don’t address the needs of applications that don’t work well in a centralized public cloud data center.

First, Gartner views edge computing as complementary to cloud computing – combining the strengths of distributed edge environments with centralized cloud environments. Recently, cloud providers have seen edge environments as an opportunity to increase the use of centrally managed cloud services, giving rise to distributed cloud services. This has been exhibited through partnerships and collaboration between hyperscale cloud providers and telecom providers, a trend that will accelerate through 2025.

Second, distributed cloud models extend the reach of centralized cloud services to any location, recognizing the needs of the customer and extended use cases that are not well-accommodated by centralized cloud. Distributed cloud is an important emerging technology trend because it delivers many of the benefits of edge computing while preserving the strengths of a centrally managed cloud service environment. Distributed cloud also supports many hybrid requirements and is applicable to all industries.

Identify the use cases where location is a key requirement in the deployment and operations of the solution. Develop solution capabilities that address industry and regulatory requirements, which often have a location dependency too, and combine edge and centralized cloud to satisfy the requirements of distributed operations.

Ed Anderson, a distinguished vice president analyst at Gartner Inc., focuses his research on the broad cloud service market, including market trends, forecasts, the cloud vendor landscape and cloud sourcing scenarios. He wrote this article for SiliconANGLE. Learn more about the future of the cloud at the Gartner IT Infrastructure, Operations & Cloud Strategies Conference, taking place Dec. 6-8 in Las Vegas.

Image: geralt/Pixabay

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