What will the cloud market look like in the coronavirus pandemic and beyond?
Document sharing, videoconferencing, CRMs, ERPs, communication and productivity tools – SaaS apps and the infrastructure they run on have enabled companies the world over to continue operating during a global crisis that would have otherwise ground productivity to a halt.
Connectivity between businesses has continued, and millions have been able to work remotely thanks to the instant availability of business-critical IT resources facilitated by the cloud.
Given how instrumental cloud technology has been in keeping operations running, it’s easy to view the current surge in adoption as an early sign of rapid, exponential growth for the sector, set to continue for the long term.
But what will the cloud market look like beyond COVID?
Will there really be an accelerated mass exodus from the in-house data centre?
How will the sector fare with continued uncertainty in the face of the deepest global recession since the Second World War?
Will infrastructure limitations be exposed following an initial rush to public cloud?
How will hybrid and private cloud fit into the post-COVID landscape?
Will cloud become the new normal? And if so, what will that new normal look like?
For a more in-depth analysis, we asked leading industry experts for their views on where cloud market is headed in the wake of the social, business and political disruption caused by COVID-19.
Here’s a list of our 15 contributors, click on their image to take you straight to their ideas, or just scroll down to read them all:
Mike d Kail
Ian is the Cloud Expert and EMEA Sales Director at Natterbox.
He is an experienced keynote speaker on Cloud & Social Selling and an expert of providing Sales & Marketing consultancy to add key marginal gains in performance.
Let's learn from Ian:
Each year has been professed as the ‘year of cloud’. 2020 truly is – its worth has been proven, enabling the forced remote working the world has undertaken to be effective.
Without cloud we would not have Zoom, MS Teams, Google Hangouts; nor the ability to be on work systems and phones at home, providing “business as unusual” services for our customers. For those who have resisted cloud or been reliant on legacy systems and processes that were office-tied, the impact has been felt – an impact that is already driving behavioural change and the creation of accelerated digitisation projects.
We are about to see an accelerated acceptance of cloud offerings. Businesses are reviewing the gaps COVID has opened and how to change to protect against the future business impact of such threats.
2020 is the year of cloud – and will drive the decade of cloud ahead!
Alex is the founder and publisher of The New Stack, an online technology publication that explains and analyzes at-scale development and management.
Alex has also been writing and editing for several years about matters related to how technology stacks are changing.
Here's Alex's thought:
At-scale development, deployment and management of application architectures on cloud services will be driven by open source technologies even more so than in the past five years.
With the world in lockdown, developers and engineers are finding the value of contributing to open source.
As such, the number of new open source contributors will increase, which will in turn mean new innovations for cloud infrastructure and architectures.
Stuart is Sr Analyst, Host of theCUBE, and GM of Content at SiliconANGLE Media.
He is passionate about connecting people to information and other people. One of Stuart's main focuses is cloud and disruptive technologies - and leverage the latest community and innovation tools.
The global pandemic in many ways put to test everything the industry has been saying about cloud computing for many years now. So, how is the reality of cloud computing standing up to the challenges?
Mostly well – but, there are some things for companies to consider. Cloud promises to be flexible on resources and finances. Cloud can scale up and down easily.
However, companies that have focused on trying to optimise every penny of cloud through advanced purchases (like AWS reserved instances) cannot necessarily dial down or turn things off as easily if they aren't tied up by contracts.
Azure has had to prioritise certain essential services and is therefore failing to meet the auto-scaling requirement that companies expect when they sign up for cloud.
For the most part, the pandemic is a tailwind for broader and deeper usage of public cloud. SaaS can deliver services for remote workers and be managed remotely too.
The shift to a more remote workforce will likely be the lasting impact on the tech community in the post-pandemic world.
Lori is the Principal Technical Evangelist and Office of the CTO at F5 Networks.
She specialises in application development, application infrastructure, cloud, SDN, DevOps and more. She has been an application developer, a system engineer, a consultant, a writer, an author, a strategist and evangelist.
Lori's opinions regarding how the cloud market will look like in the post-pandemic world:
The abrupt interruption of “business as usual” brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to disrupt operations for the foreseeable future. As organisations continue to struggle with safety for consumers, employees, and partners, they are increasingly looking to the public cloud.
For many – particularly mid-sized organisations – this new outlook has been brought primarily through third-party applications and frameworks, designed to quickly enable online business in a shuttered world. Having little or no IT capacity themselves, a broad range of industries and businesses – from farmers to boutique retail shops – have embarked on a digital transformation journey that has taken them to the public cloud.
Combined with productivity and payment services provided via SaaS, the cloud will continue well beyond 2020 to provide the business continuity necessary to keep business moving forward.
Large enterprises, along with technology firms, are likely to continue consuming public cloud in all its forms. The significant repatriation movement resulting from the costs of an “all cloud or nothing” approach before the pandemic are likely to slow – and for some, halt entirely. Remote work as a standard option rather than a perk is not only likely but inevitable.
The use of SaaS and public cloud will continue to enable those organisations making the shift from on-premises to off- a reality for the workforce. Its consumption will grow as more of the business operation portfolio must support remote work.
Public cloud providers will face their own challenges thanks to the “cloud rush” caused by shutdowns amidst the pandemic. At times, there have been signs their infrastructure is struggling to keep up with demand. A future distributed workforce that relies primarily on cloud-based applications will require changes.
The distribution of cloud data centres is inadequate to support longer-term significant workloads for a distributed workforce and increasingly dispersed consumer base. Public cloud providers will need to carefully assess their current distribution of data centres and potentially expand to support a growing customer base that often struggles with availability and performance due to distance and local infrastructure constraints.
George is an Analyst, Journalist, Consultant, Researcher, Engineer, Entrepreneur, and also the Founder of Linked Data Orchestration
He has versatile experiences, including in being a Gigaom analyst, serving Fortune 500, startups and NGOs as a consultant and more.
George recognises that:
Like other domains, the coronavirus pandemic will influence the cloud market in a number of ways. Some of them predictable, some unpredictable, and not all changes will be in the same direction.
The most obvious example of what I would call a predictable change would be growth – more cloud deployments and more cloud customers. This was already happening, of course, but remote work and the increased use of SaaS it entails will accelerate the trend.
However, I don't think this means that everything will eventually move to the cloud. I believe a saturation point will be reached. There will always be workloads and data to be kept on premise, for a number of reasons. There will also be hybrid and multi-cloud options, with Google's Anthos being something to keep an eye on.
The coronavirus is a black swan event, and, as such, can influence the world at large in unpredictable ways. We do not know the ways in which coronavirus-related side effects will influence the political balance of power. What we do know, however, is that this can have a significant effect in the cloud market, too.
Case in point – a number of voices for the breaking up of Amazon have been echoing around for a while. This is arguably a political decision. Whether it will be pursued, when, and in what way, is anyone's guess. If and when that happens, however, it could reshape the cloud market drastically.
Vladimer is a multi-award winning Fortune 500 consultant and thought leader in AI & Digital Transformation.
Through his consulting, speaking, teaching, startup advising, and mentoring services, companies have grown from a groundbreaking idea into the fastest growing companies.
We have been reinventing ourselves since the global COVID-19 pandemic. Cloud computing plays a key role in helping businesses apply solutions and maintain continuity. Remote working is now a reality for employees. The best way to win is to focus on remote collaboration through a cloud-based platform.
Cloud computing has proved to be indispensable during this crisis.
Cloud service will provide more scalability for major organizations and it will drive them into the future. Cloud is expected to grow even further and brands that use cloud technologies position themselves as world-leading organizations to gain a competitive advantage and prepare for the connected future.
Our lives are transformed by smart devices and the ability to access information, the demand for cloud storage has skyrocketed. Each person has around 1,426 daily average data interactions and they will have approximately 4,909 in 2025.
Cloud business services, cloud platforms (IaaS/PaaS) and applications (SaaS) global public services revenue will reach a total of $155 billion. Global share of cloud storage by region by 2025: China 50%, APAC (excluding China) 47%, Europe, Middle East, and Africa 46%, United States 33%. 5.3 billion estimated number of internet users worldwide by 2023, by up from 4.2 billion in 2019.
175 ZB estimated size of the global datasphere in 2025, up from 33 zettabytes in 2018, 49% of the world's stored data will reside in public cloud environments by 2025, 47% expected to increase in public cloud spend by organizations.
There are 5.2 billion mobile phone users, 4.6 billion internet users, 3.9 billion active social media users. Digital's role in helping people cope with the COVID-19 is immense: 83% believe digital helps them cope with COVID-19 related lockdowns and 67% believe digital helps them do their job.
It's interesting to see 32% of organizations have introduced new tools for virtual meetings.
Companies encountered main IT challenges during the pandemic: hardware and software maintenance, IT staff concerns, collaboration tools, cybersecurity tools, outdated infrastructure, digital development projects on hold, and poor data and analytics. Companies need to upgrade their software systems and also get more state-of-the-art products.
Cloud services are the best solution to uncertain times and more interactions will be moved to digital channels. Executives will need to understand the ways that cloud technologies can increase revenue growth. Invest to seize new digital opportunities, expand business boundaries, and partner to develop better cloud services.
I believe tech companies can take proactive steps to build more resilience into their businesses.
As the Commercial Director at Sify Technologies Limited, Justin is an accomplished commercial and technology leader for business partner channels and corporate enterprise working with managed cloud services.
He gives advice and direction to organisations on IT strategy, best practice for adoption of cloud technologies and managed services to promote business growth and productivity.
Here's Justin's view of the cloud market through 2020 and beyond:
For Sify Europe, like most we saw a marked increase in uptake of public cloud and SaaS systems. This was true in both that of our home market in Asia as well as the UK. Notwithstanding the spike in consumer demand for steaming services such a Netflix, Amazon, Disney, etc, we have higher demands for a much larger remote workforce.
With an increase for cloud resources brings with it a greater need for operational tools and talent. The cloud market looking forward is certainly likely to demand a greater emphasis on cloud security, tools to automate scaling and resilient processes along with the talent to set them up.
For many of our partners and clients, the pandemic has changed or accelerated strategy around 3 key areas; i) moving more applications to public cloud. ii) Updating and modernising applications and, (iii) a greater need to reduce IT costs.
This has been thrust on them whilst coming to terms with now having smaller IT support teams, with some staff coming off furlough and being laid off. Doing more with less means that we will see more organisations looking for innovative and cheaper ways to run and operate its business IT and functions.
For Sify we believe that we have an important role to play in helping our clients and partners through and out the tough times ahead. We have embraced the changes and the market sentiment by helping our clients confront the new world on two fronts.
The first, to address their own workforce skills gaps by allowing free access to our comprehensive and highly acclaimed e-learning journey courses and resources. The second, with the ability to offer quick and easy professional but impartial advice on IT change.
To find out more about Sify https://www.sifytechnologies.com/europe/partners/
Ratan is the Chief Information Security Officer at Ujjivan Small Finance Bank Limited.
His expertise includes Cyber Security, Risk management & Governance Leader and consistently recognized for outstanding technical, interpersonal, leadership, and communication skills. He was chosen as one of the top 100 cloud security global influencers in 2020.
Let's learn from Ratan:
Is COVID-19 the catalyst for cloud adoption? Certainly, the crisis has made it difficult for enterprises with on-premise data centres to maintain uptime. This sudden shift to remote working is incomplete without an elastic, agile, consistent, and secure deployment of application, storage and computing environments.
This is the transformative moment in the history of technology. The situation has proved that cloud computing is the answer to the epidemic. In today’s scenarios, to expand business to new customers, new channels, new geographies and new markets, cloud computing becomes an essential tool.
The burden of possessing, managing, and maintaining IT infrastructure has been the key challenge throughout the crisis, and cloud has definitely been a gamechanger for many industries. A prevalent pandemic validates the need for the preservation of corporate functionality based on cloud and cloud-based technologies.
As enterprises stand to maintain productivity, pushing the corporation into embracing work from home policies, it is essential to rethink disaster recovery plans and explore cloud further as a mitigation to disasters and even pandemics.
Mike has over 25 years of Technology Executive Leadership Experience and is currently the Chief Technology Officer at Everest.org.
His specialties include Cloud Architecture, Security, SaaS/Cloud deployments, Big Data, and more.
Here's Mike's thought:
COVID19 has accelerated many digital transformation and cloud migration initiatives due to the sudden need to support a nearly completely remote workforce.
Consumption of SaaS services for email, collaboration, file sharing, and other core requirements has been on a massive uptick.
FinTech solutions such as contactless payments are also in high demand, and I believe we will see a foundational change in that entire sector in the coming months.
Fawad Khan has 15+ years of experience in enterprise Digital Transformation and Cloud Computing. He has spent last 14 years at Microsoft working with various Cloud services and technologies including Office 365, Azure and Dynamics 365.
He is also an adjunct faculty member at the University of Washington where he teaches advanced graduate courses in Digital Transformation, Cloud, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, IoT and other emerging technologies.
Cloud computing has come to the rescue for many organisations and professionals in not only helping them work remotely but also in securing their jobs in these uncertain times. Many companies have closed their physical offices and facilities and have asked their employees to work remotely from home.
Without cloud computing being accessible to companies of all sizes, this massive remote work paradigm would not have been possible. Key cloud services such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Google Meet etc. have saved us all from the huge layoffs that may otherwise have happened across multiple industries.
While some industries like travel, hospitality, and food have been hit hard, others and particularly the IT sector has been saved from the wrath of massive lay-offs and furloughs.
Gartner had initially predicted the SaaS market to grow to $116 billion in its late 2019 report, but with the sharp increase in utilisation due to the pandemic, this number is surely going to reach new heights.
As a Co-Founder of Dominica, Phil tells how people are using digital technologies to change the enterprise and achieve breakthrough business outcomes.
He has spent over 20 years studying at close hand the emergence of SaaS, cloud computing and digital enterprise - always with a sharp focus on practical takeaways for business leaders and change agents.
While cloud computing has evolved and become mainstream, business cultures and working practices have barely begun to adapt to what the technology now allows. The COVID-19 lockdown has given us all a jolt in the right direction, but we are still at the very beginning of this new wave of change.
Suddenly it's become clear that embracing distributed working practices founded on cloud computing makes businesses far more agile and resilient than those still stuck in the old ways.
But it still feels hard to adapt to these new ways of working, because many of the necessary tools and skills are unfamiliar. It will still take time for everyone to fully grasp what's really involved.
Bill is one of the world’s top social influencers, with a focus on striking the right balance between digital transformation ‘changing the world’ (including cloud, AI, etc) and digital ethics ‘doing the right thing’ (including privacy, security, etc).
He is also one of the world’s top campaigners for digital ethics and founder of The Crisis Team – a digital era crisis management firm, where working alongside the UK’s top cyberlaw experts, my team helps firms mitigate against, prepare for and, if necessary, deal with the impact of data breaches.
Here's Bill's thought:
The immediate response to the pandemic has been tactical, focusing on how to enable staff to work remotely – and how to do it securely. But it has also caused a strategic shift to accelerate digital transformation and cloud migration. In the medium term, we will need to sustain remote working, and this may change longer-term work patterns.
However, the real long-term strategic lesson has been how to deal with massive disruption events, such as global pandemics and financial crises. Organisations need to consider flexibility and risk awareness as sources of competitive advantage and ensure that they are “crisis prepared” for the next major event – which may well be a cyber incident, given the increasing threat landscape.
Nicholas is the Senior Vice President and Head of Enterprise Research at CCS Insight where he leads the firm’s research into Enterprise Transformation and Artificial Intelligence Research Practices.
Named among the top global tech analysts of the year for 2019 by the Institute of Industry Analyst Relations (IIAR). His research focuses on cloud computing, machine learning, software development and digital workplace strategies, including trends across enterprise mobility and end user computing, productivity and collaboration as well as IT security and management.
Nicholas mentioned in his article:
As the world fights the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses are overhauling their IT strategies by continuing to prioritise remote working, business continuity and ensuring networks, infrastructure and security can cope in the new environment.
These efforts will remain central IT themes for the next 12 months at least. However, based on conversations I've had with customers over the past month, one technology that is set to undergo perhaps the biggest shift of all is artificial intelligence.
As a year of uncertainty looms, driven by lockdown periods and the high likelihood of a global economic recession, a new pragmatism is now characterising approaches to AI. This will define customer AI strategies and market developments for the near future. AI will remain among the tech industry’s most important trends over the next 12 months.
Beginning as a journalist and editor in global technology industry news, over time Dana developed into a research and analysis specialist with practical insights into the rapidly advancing world of internet infrastructure and related software platforms.
Dana is now the founder, president and principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions. He provides the full planning, production, hosting, and distribution of high-quality, IT-focused content.
Dana's thoughts around the cloud market in 2020:
A powerful and unique set of circumstances are combining in mid-2020 to make safe and rapid cloud adoption more urgent and easier than ever.
Dealing with the novel coronavirus pandemic has pushed businesses to not only seek flexible IT hosting models, but to accommodate flexible work, hasten applications’ transformation and improve overall security while doing so.
Businesses must now plan how to further use cloud models to cut costs, manage operations remotely, and gain added capability to scale their operations up and down.
zsah CEO, Amir, is an experienced technology, strategy and business process expert with significant exposure to both the enterprise and SME spaces.
He has over 18 years of experience in software engineering, infrastructure design, development and service design and founded zsah in 2002 in order to deliver innovative hosted software projects.
zsah's award-winning managed technology services include strategy, consulting and implementation of Private Cloud, Hybrid Cloud (through our award-winning Gridz management tool), Smart Disaster Recovery, Network Security Audits, GDPR Compliance, Data & Analytics and bespoke Application Hosting Solutions.
Amir points out:
Cloud platforms that have seen huge growth during the pandemic – Zoom, MS Teams, etc. – will move along the value chain and become feature rich, providing new benefits for users through innovation and competition.
Organisations – and particularly SMEs – will now put everything they can into the cloud and leave very little, if anything, on-premises as they look to minimise their office footprints.
In the enterprise space, multi-cloud will see increased use, due to the ability to buy relevant cloud services and move between cloud suppliers. Enterprises will spend more on company infrastructure in order to provide richer, more secure and scalable remote working solutions for their staff.
Telepresence will see a marked rise, and SaaS firms will realise that serverless can limit competitive advantage as their apps become more mature. Enterprise architects and product managers will focus on competitive advantage more in order to ensure their offerings are providing users the very best.
Amir also shared his thoughts on how enterprise can use multi-cloud to drive IT cost-savings in a post-pandemic world. Click the link to watch the video.
Industry leaders are united on at least one premise – the cloud will not just weather the post-COVID business landscape but thrive in it. What’s more, most agree that there will be a continuation of current remote work arrangements over the next decade, which will prove a major factor in increased cloud adoption.
The long-term social, business and political unpredictability caused by the coronavirus pandemic, however, has caused some to stop short of complete optimism. Concerns over whether current public cloud provisions will be sufficient to support a huge wave of cloud converts, alongside the unknown political ramifications that typically accompany black swan events, have caused some to take a positive-but-cautious view of cloud’s role in the enterprise over the coming years.
Overall, however, the 2020s look set to be a decade of opportunities for cloud technology. The flexibility cloud offers will no doubt appeal to more organisations than ever as those with rigid legacy systems struggle to keep up, and with a thriving workforce largely untouched by the layoffs affecting other industries, cloud technology providers are poised to take advantage.
How zsah Can Help
The Cloud landscape has evolved significantly in the past three years. As a leading-edge provider of managed Cloud services, zsah has been at the forefront of the evolution.
Cloud providers have added intelligence to their offerings that go beyond mere infrastructure, zsah are no exception and nearly all of our clients consume complementary capabilities such as elastic compute and application adaptive infrastructure from us.
Now It’s Your Turn!
We hope you enjoy this blog post and find the feedback from these 15 cloud experts insightful.
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