Amir Hashmi, CEO, and founder of zsah, managed IT services, looks back on the pandemic’s last few years and how the cloud will continue to be revolutionised in the next 12 months.
Document sharing, videoconferencing, CRMs, ERPs, communication, and productivity tools – these are all remarkably familiar buzzwords millions of businesses all over the world have increasingly adopted over the last few years. Without the cloud, we would not have Zoom, MS Teams, Google Hangouts, or the ability to work office systems and phones from home. Even those who have resisted cloud technologies or been reliant on legacy systems and office-tied processes have felt the impact.
2020 was the first significant year of the cloud. Initially, migrating to the cloud was the IT equivalent of grasping the nettle – with every business forced by circumstance to undertake a significant digitisation project.
Now, two years on, we continue to see a rapid development of cloud technology as more businesses adopt and do so on a broader scale. The journey has not been easy for some, and many companies still struggle to balance its cost alongside fears of growing complexity. However, now that some firms are seeing wider growth opportunities through managed services, the burden of managing and maintaining the cloud environment is fast becoming less of a headache.
Open source will continue to drive cloud innovation
At-scale development, deployment, and management of application architectures on cloud services have been driven by open-source technologies, even more so than in the past five years. With the world in lockdown, developers and engineers found the value of contributing to open source.
What’s more, there is a growing demand for fair, just, democratic, and accessible policies – to communities, the global South, and of course, the environment. Using open-source tech is an effortless way to ensure accessibility, which will be a vital part of many organisations’ green policies; as illustrated by how it is driving the United Nations’ sustainability goals: “With leadership from the UN, we are perhaps not too far away from when, if you have a local problem (no matter where you are in the world), you can download a vetted and tested open-source solution. Just maybe, this is the firepower we need to reach the ambitious Sustainable Development Goals.”
Businesses continue to rely on the public cloud
The abrupt interruption of “business as usual” brought on by COVID-19 is here to stay – and is likely to disrupt operations for the near future. As organisations struggle with safety for consumers, employees, and partners, they increasingly look to the public cloud creating increased pressures.
For the majority – particularly small to medium-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 via ‘Software as a Service (SaaS). The cloud, particularly the public cloud, will remain the backbone of business continuity for most enterprises.
However, this may start to create issues. The “cloud rush” caused by past shutdowns amidst the pandemic has at times, highlighted weaknesses in infrastructure as it struggled to keep up with demand from workforces.
The distribution of cloud data centres is currently inadequate to support significant longer-term workloads for a distributed workforce and an increasingly dispersed consumer base. That means that public cloud providers will need to carefully assess their current distribution of data centres and potentially expand to support a growing customer base from now on into 2022.
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More companies will go hybrid with their cloud setup
The public cloud has been great for companies who found themselves suddenly in need of cloud storage and who require a flexible, pay-as-you-go service meaning that they have had to adapt quickly.
However, as there seems to be no going back, many organisations in 2022 may consider moving onto a private cloud for stability. It offers greater security and cost efficiency and a myriad of compliance and data regulation benefits, which makes it ideal for the centralised storage and control of essential company data. Although, as mentioned above, the public cloud is still the best option when providing the tools that a remote workforce needs to function efficiently.
The answer is to go hybrid. Investing in hybrid cloud technology models, including some on-premises resources, dedicated private clouds, and an array of public clouds for applications and data, provides organisations with more control on how and where data is stored and often more control over the cost. Henceforth this will be seen as a less unnecessary risk and more sensible option.
Companies who are unsure of how much they will grow yet know they will need at least ‘some’ cloud storage, will drive the adoption of the hybrid setup.
Regional cloud ecosystems
As centralised systems struggle to carry the load of a workforce not tied to a central office and businesses expanding their cloud usage, regional data centres will be substantial growth for cloud storage.
For regional businesses that would traditionally have had to establish all their PoPs and cloud connections in London or other major cities, this is a significant move in a different direction. It is radically improving efficiency and reducing latency. As we know, more businesses are ditching that centralised, permanent office in London to operate from the comfort of their own homes.
Cloud providers will continue to see growing demand
Despite the fundamental importance of the cloud, it is challenging (if not impossible) for a fast-growing SaaS company to create a dedicated in-house team whose role is to ensure the smooth running of cloud systems and infrastructure without losing focus.
So, it can make sense for firms to reach out to a hosting platform to do the heavy lifting. More importantly, it means that SaaS owners can focus on doing what they do best: building great applications and landing even more new customers.