Here are the factors set to shape the future of public cloud

Microsoft, pandemic, azure, AWS, Google Cloud, Cloud

Of all the potential forces set to shape the future of public cloud computing, there are four specific elements that are expected to expand the breadth of cloud offerings and capabilities, accelerating growth across all segments in the public cloud services market. 

The four factors – trends, really – according to industry analyst firm Gartner, are: 

  • Cloud ubiquity;
  • Regional cloud ecosystems;
  • Sustainability and ‘carbon-intelligent’ cloud; and
  • Cloud infrastructure and platform service (CIPS) providers’ automated programmable infrastructure.

Gartner reckons these market trends will collectively shape how the cloud market will look going forward, and they’re only becoming more deeply entrenched and prevalent as the pandemic rolls on and businesses continue to adapt to a new normal.  

“The economic, organisational and societal impact of the pandemic will continue to serve as a catalyst for digital innovation and adoption of cloud services,” said Henrique Cecci, senior research director at Gartner. “This is especially true for use cases such as collaboration, remote work and new digital services to support a hybrid workforce.” 

Cloud ubiquity 

From Gartner’s perspective, cloud technology underpins most new technological disruptions, including composable business, and has proven itself during times of uncertainty with its resiliency, scalability, flexibility and speed.  

Moreover, hybrid, multicloud and edge environments are growing and setting the stage for new distributed cloud models. 

With new wireless communications advances, most notably 5G, making the case for cloud more appealing in an increasing range of use cases, cloud adoption is expected to hit new levels of broader, deeper and ubiquitous usage.  

As a result, global cloud adoption will continue to expand rapidly, the analyst firm predicts.  

Indeed, Gartner forecasts that end-user spending on public cloud services will reach US$396 billion in 2021 and grow 21.7 per cent to reach US$482 billion in 2022.  

Additionally, by 2026 public cloud spending is expected to exceed 45 per cent of all enterprise IT spending, up from less than 17 per cent in 2021. 

In the Asia Pacific region alone, enterprises are expected to continue latching onto public cloud services over the next four years, with the market forecast to reach US$124 billion by 2025, according to fellow industry analyst firm IDC.

“Organisations are advancing their timelines on digital business initiatives and moving rapidly to the cloud in an effort to modernise environments, improve system reliability, support hybrid work models and address other new realities compelled by the pandemic,” said Brandon Medford, senior principal analyst at Gartner. 

Regional cloud ecosystems 

At the same time, growing geopolitical regulatory fragmentation, protectionism and industry compliance are driving the creation of new regional and vertical cloud ecosystems and data services, the analyst firm claimed.  

As such, organisations in the financial and public sectors are looking to reduce critical lock-in and single points of failure with cloud providers outside of their respective countries.  

Indeed, many organisations now choose to deal with cloud providers that have in-country infrastructure in order to adhere to data sovereignty regulations.  

However, regions not able to create or sustain their own platform ecosystems will have no choice but to leverage the platforms based on infrastructure in other regions, doing what they can within the legislative and regulatory framework outlined by their respective governments.  

Sustainability and ‘carbon-intelligent’ cloud 

Once a ‘nice-to-have’ addition to cloud offerings, the world’s three largest public cloud providers — Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud — are all investing heavily in renewable resources to feed their energy hungry data centres, along with other environmental measures. 

Sustainability has now become a major point of competition between the cloud leaders.   

And the concern seems to be reflected by the business landscape; nearly half of the respondents in the 2021 Gartner CEO Survey said they believed climate change mitigation will have a significant impact on their business. 

According to Gartner, cloud providers are responding to this growing focus on sustainability by instituting more aggressive carbon-neutral corporate goals, which creates new challenges for infrastructure and operations leaders. 

CIPS providers’ automated programmable infrastructure 

Finally, Gartner expects to see broad adoption of fully managed and artificial intelligence (AI)-/machine-learning (ML)-enabled cloud services from hyperscale CIPS providers.  

This will rapidly eliminate the operational burden of traditional infrastructure and operations roles in the public cloud, the analyst firm claimed. 

“Infrastructure is becoming programmable, and its operation is subsequently becoming automated,” said Cecci. “Modern IT infrastructure, whether deployed in the data centre or consumed in the public cloud, requires less manual intervention and routine administration than its legacy equivalents.” 

In May, it was revealed that the global public cloud services market grew 34.1 per cent year over year, to US$312 billion, in 2020, with cloud giants AWS and Microsoft duking it out for the number one spot for revenue share. 

According to DC, which claimed that due to an expanding portfolio of software-as-a-service (SaaS) and system infrastructure software-as-a-service (SISaaS), Microsoft and AWS both share the top spot in the public cloud services market, with both companies holding 12.8 per cent revenue share for the year. 

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