Cloud Technology Predictions for 2021

Cloud usage was already strong and growing when we started 2020. But that trend will only intensify in the new year, say IT leaders, who also anticipate a strong focus on governance, cloud-native, and hybrid deployments in 2021.

Here IT leaders reflect on the changes that 2020 brought and the key changes they see shaping up for 2021.

Hybrid cloud will be the norm. In 2020, we saw more cloud migrations than ever before as the landscape of data lakes has continued to evolve. With the reluctance of moving core enterprise data to the cloud, a hybrid cloud has already hit the sweet spot for larger enterprises. The data and operations tools available for such an environment has improved tremendously, with the expertise required to manage the environment decreasing. Solutions that enable the hybrid cloud approach will continue to drive this simplification and adoption. This means the hybrid cloud architecture will become the mainstream in larger enterprises.—Haoyuan Li, Founder and CEO, Alluxio

Cloud-native projects will accelerate. When starting their cloud journey, many companies choose the lift and shift” migration approach because it offers the fastest path to the cloud—and this is because on-premises workloads are moved with little or no change to the underlying code. While lift-and-shift continues to fuel digital transformation, it has mostly been about virtualizing existing on-premises infrastructure, rather than architecting for the cloud. In 2021, expect to see this change as organizations look to take advantage of modern hardware and cloud-native features of the hyperscale cloud. IDG’s 2020 Cloud Computing Survey notes that while 54% of enterprises' cloud-based applications were moved from an on-premise environment to the cloud, a significant 46% were purpose-built for the cloud. Expect to see the percentage of purpose-built, cloud-ready (refactored) applications increase in 2021 as organizations look to gain the elasticity, scalability and cost benefits of the cloud.—Peter Berry, CTO of Cloud Technologies at Navisite

A stronger focus on global visibility and governance of data. In hybrid- and multi-cloud environments, global visibility and governance of storage will be a major focus moving forward. Organizations must determine how to effectively provision and administer storage capacity in different locations, whether the location is a data center or the cloud. With those capabilities in place, companies can make smarter decisions about where they're running applications. Storage platforms spanning multiple locations require global fault tolerance and persistence, and vendors that can enable that vision will succeed. Edge deployments are becoming more popular as companies seek performance improvements in places like retail store locations or solar fields. The path forward for these deployments is to bring all the disparate locations under a single pane of glass for management, likely by using Kubernetes as the core orchestrator. However, off-the-shelf Kubernetes distributions aren't a natural fit for these environments. More organizations will implement data centers at the edge, and they'll need to find a global Kubernetes platform built specifically to handle their expanding physical footprint if they are to be successful. —Brian Waldon, VP of Product, Diamanti

The shine of the cloud data warehouse will wear off. The cloud data warehouse vendors have leveraged the separation of storage from compute to deliver offerings with a lower cost of entry than traditional data warehouses, as well as improved scalability. However, the data itself isn’t separated from compute—it must first be loaded into the data warehouse, and can only be accessed through the data warehouse. This includes paying the data warehouse vendor to get the data into and out of their system. So, while upfront expenses for a cloud data warehouse may be less, the costs at the end of the year are likely significantly higher than expected. By leveraging modern cloud data lake engines and open source table formats like Apache Iceberg, however, companies can now query data in the data lake directly without any degradation of performance, resulting in an extreme reduction in complex and costly data copies and movement.—Tomer Shiran, co-founder of Dremio

There will be a maturing of the cybersecurity around cloud infrastructure. The pandemic has forced enterprises to move much of their operations online. A big part of this is the automation of cloud infrastructure setup and updates. Right now, most of the solutions for securing the cloud setup are an "after the fact" kind of solution and alert you once your cloud infrastructure has already exhibited a misconfiguration that can be compromised. We're going to see the cybersecurity market for cloud infrastructure mature to solutions that take a more proactive approach to ensuring secure cloud config before unsecured changes reach the real cloud.—Yoav Landman, Co-Founder and CTO of JFrog

Cloud deployments will become necessary, not optional. Cloud computing was an ongoing trend before COVID-19, but it was more of a “nice to have” technology. However, now and in 2021, it will be a necessity for enterprises to survive and thrive. In fact, Ventana’s David Menninger recently noted that 86% of organizations expect the majority of their data to be in the cloud at some point in the future.—Raj Verma, CEO of SingleStore