The Stack Archive Feature

Cloud computing in 2019: views of the industry

Wed 19 Dec 2018

This year’s cloud predictions will be the last from The Stack as we move to our new home Techerati. Many thanks to Chip Childers, Sacha Labourey, Lee James, Michael Wignall, Arthur Viegers and Nigel Kersten for their excellent contributions


2019 is fast approaching and it follows a year of unprecedented change in cloud. Kubernetes has taken the community by storm, but the discovery of a major security hole last month was a sobering reminder of the need for a robust and diligent approach to cloud security.

And of course, the cloud war rages on with the ball very much in Google’s court. Sacha Labourey, CEO at CloudBees predicts another busy year of acquisitions.

Whether you’re a cloud industry professional, investor, or die-hard technologist, equip yourself for next year by reading predictions from the cloud experts at Puppet, Pivotal, Microsoft, Rackspace, and Cloud Foundry. Some of their predictions may surprise you.

Nigel Kersten, VP Ecosystem Engineering at Puppet 

“The edge of the cloud will see furious activity in 2019”

Edge computing talk will be everywhere. AWS Outposts, Google Kubernetes Engine on-prem, AzureStack – all of the cloud-but-on-prem-but-still-cloudy solutions will see a lot of activity that will ripple across our industry. Besides from the obvious impact on vendors in the turnkey on-premise Kubernetes space, I see this as being the final nail in the coffin for OpenStack outside of core telco deployments, as there are simpler solutions at small scale, and more compatible ones at a larger scale.

Microsoft will continue to improve upon its standing as an immense and authentic corporate presence in the world of open source in both reality and perception. The acquisition of GitHub will be critical to its success and will be looked back on as being a significant historical turning point.

All signs point towards a well-managed acquisition that I strongly believe will stand in stark contrast to the IBM/Red Hat one in terms of results and longevity. I’m hearing increasing rumblings of discontent from developers about Apple laptop hardware quality, and if that doesn’t improve and Microsoft does continue to do open source well, I could see them winning the hearts and minds of a very large subset of the development community that they haven’t traditionally been close to.

Arthur Viegers, Senior Director, Platform Architecture at Pivotal 

“The current cyber threat landscape continues to add pressure to security teams”

The ability to rapidly respond to critical vulnerabilities and patch containers automatically is a necessity and, as such, automation processes will need to be introduced.

As we saw in December, the most popular cloud container orchestration system – Kubernetes discovered a major security hole that needed patching.

If there are any slight vulnerabilities, hackers today will exploit them. This means that, in 2019, it will be vital for enterprises to use a cloud application platform that automatically patches containers rapidly. This will reduce the dependency on people in IT teams to fix the issue, who are prone to making mistakes and take far longer to spot and act on an issue. In future, enterprises will need to take advantage of platforms such as Pivotal Cloud Foundry, which can patch vulnerabilities in a short amount of time.

In 2019, Function-as-a-Service (FaaS) cloud services based on Knative will become generally available. With FaaS, it is no longer necessary to build and maintain infrastructure, but containers will automatically be created and destroyed as and when needed to execute a function. This is particularly cost-effective for event-driven workloads, such as IoT workloads. General availability will mean that many enterprises will embrace their software development on that basis.

Michael Wignall, CTO at Microsoft UK 

“Conversations that I’ve had with customers, partners and the public sector have been dominated by one subject this year – how to maximise the AI opportunity that cloud computing enables”

There’s a lot of interest in AI’s potential to transform products, empower employees and improve customer services. As we head into 2019, the interest in experimenting with AI is only going to accelerate. It needs to. We recently surveyed 1,000 business decision makers and 4,000 employees of large UK organisations to gauge their understanding of the role AI can play and it’s clear there’s confusion and concern about where to begin.

But there is a driving force compelling them to consider the potential AI has to offer. 41% of organisations surveyed believe their current business model will cease to exist in less than five years. That’s a scary statistic. Technological disruption and major organisations entering from adjacent markets are putting huge pressures on how companies operate, forcing them to evaluate their entire approach. Businesses must think of AI not as a challenge but an opportunity. AI is not the threat, it’s the tool that will save them.

Yet the lack of adoption today is a real concern – despite the threats UK organisations face from this disruption and the broader impact of the current economic and political environment, 51% of business leaders surveyed admitted their organisations do not have an AI strategy in place. This must change.

AI is not a case of the tortoise and the hare, those that are innovating today will be the success stories of tomorrow. The evidence backs this up. Of the organisations we surveyed, those already utilising AI are outperforming competition by 5% – a significant boost to any organisation’s bottom line and one any organisation can ill afford to miss out on. 2019 will be about accelerating awareness of the value AI can bring to organisations, piloting AI-driven projects and ensuring businesses are equipped to compete in the age of AI.

Lee James, CTO, EMEA at Rackspace 

“Blocks of services become the new cloud consumption model”

The way that businesses consume cloud services will change rapidly in 2019, reflecting the wider shift towards a subscription economy. Just as many parents will be opting for data bolt-ons to their mobile contracts this Christmas, to help keep kids entertained during long car journeys over the holiday season, so organisations have begun bolting-on new cloud services to respond to short-term, specific needs.

This subscription model (Rackspace call it Service Blocks) will go beyond merely enabling users to scale up or down cloud platforms. Cloud service providers are changing their service offering to help them become more agile in responding to customers’ needs, whether that’s providing a “Cost Governance as a Service” or “Solution Architect as-a-Service” to build complex cloud architectures.

Those that ensure the barrier is low to consume these new services will see the greatest success. Six week waits for statements of work are now dead as customers crave flexibility, scale up/scale down and customisable offerings, whether that’s in their operations, resource requirements or service engagements.

Sacha Labourey, CEO at CloudBees 

“Google will acquire at least five companies in the first nine months of 2019”

As the cloud war is raging, there is in all likelihood room for at most three top vendors. The first two spots have been secured by MSFT and AWS. Google is fighting to keep their third spot: despite great raw technology, they’ve been unable to create an enterprise sales motion and culture, which is acting as a ceiling to their growth (vs. MSFT & AWS). The most obvious way for Google is a DNA-transplant i.e. to “acquire” this culture.

Google is very much aware of this and after failing to acquire both GitHub and Red Hat, their options are diminishing by the day. Google’s latest cloud acquisitions date from … 2016 with Apigee! With the arrival of Thomas Kurian, things will drastically evolve. Mr. Kurian comes from a strong enterprise business culture and M&A has been Oracle’s way for decades. How is that different from Diane Greene? She also has an amazing enterprise background and culture.

In my opinion, the big difference is that Ms Greene, as she arrived at Google, had to rebuild a lot of foundation and put things on a very different track. That consumed a lot of her time and energy. Mr. Kurian comes fresh and, very quickly, will want to validate that he has relative free reigns and corporate backing to make GCP successful. If this is not going to work for him, he might as well know fast and move on. My prediction? Under Kurian, Google will acquire at least 5 companies in the first 9 months of 2019. If they don’t, Kurian will leave the company fast.

Chip Childers, CTO at Cloud Foundry

“The big one for me is ‘People and Process > Technology'”

Running a successful company means having the right tools, sure — but what it comes down to is having the right people who know how to handle those tools and create effective, strategic processes. Developers are in the business of being proactive — they have to be, as technology is constantly evolving. But it’s not just knowing how to use a particular technology; it’s about understanding how that fits in with your larger strategy.

In 2019, companies are going to wake up to the fact that the people on their teams matter more than anything. Reskilling their workforces is going to become essential to business success. These are the people who’ve been on a team, who know the business and who are invested in the mission. So it’s time for companies to invest in their people.

Companies like The Home Depot have done an incredible job of harnessing this. They’re changing their culture by training their retail employees on technology, upskilling their most valuable asset — their people — and dynamically restructuring their digital growth simultaneously.

Tags:

AI Cloud cybersecurity edge faas Google Microsoft multicloud private cloud public cloud redhat serverless
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