Top 10 Trends Transforming the Cloud According to Forrester

By | September 26, 2022

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In a recent report issued by Forrester, ten trends stood out as shapers of how the cloud’s continued evolution as more organizations try leverage its potential.

A core takeaway from the report was the theme that cloud strategies must be refined with cloud-native adoption being accelerated. Based on the report, even companies that already migrated to the cloud a few years ago could find their earlier implementations have aged to legacy status and now act as technical debt. That is where cloud native platforms seem to come in, according to Forrester, as vendors offer such resources for modernization.

The top trends in the cloud, according to Forrester:

  • Hyperscalers answer customer demands for platform composability.
  • FinOps pressures ITFM/TBM to adapt and modernize.
  • Platform teams power cloud-native transformation.
  • Geopolitical dynamics create local players and solutions.
  • Cloud redefines the enterprise data center.
  • Kubernetes adoption drives proactive governance, compliance, and resilience.
  • Cloud-scale operations solutions gain momentum.
  • Megavendors own enterprise IT budgets.
  • The battle at the edge heats up.
  • Industry-specific offerings gain traction.

Forrester principal analyst Lee Sustar and US Bank head of architecture Madhu Rao will present a session on cloud-native innovation this week at Forrester’s Technology & Innovation North America conference, Sep. 29 and 30 in Austin and online. (InformationWeek readers can register with code FORRIW.) Sustar says cloud providers had originally emerged as generalists, offering services that could be mapped closely, save time, create certain efficiencies, and offer scalability. “It still meant people had to work at how to develop new applications, how to build on these infrastructures,” he says.

That let hyperscalers come out with patterns for platforms, Sustar says. This led to an era of platform-as-a-service, he says, and then cloud providers understood their customers wanted finished or semi-finished platforms that included automation and the capacity to tailor that to their needs. “In some cases, they might want it 95% tailored to them,” Sustar says. That could be a CRM or human resources application, he says, or customers may have a desire to create their own applications.

In such instances, they sought platforms with the core of the systems they expected to have, Sustar says, with database capabilities along with the capacity to develop on that themselves. “Some people just wanted to go all out and do open source on their own, but that’s relatively rare,” he says.

Cloud providers are responding to the market’s demand for semi-finished platforms, he says, that are roughly standardized and commodified, especially on open source and Kubernetes. “If it’s standard issue, they want to see the value developed on top of that.”

Part of this is driven by the competition among vendors to build out infrastructure globally, Sustar says, a capital-intensive endeavor. That brings in new business, he says, but also carries pressure for standardization and commodification. “They need to differentiate further up the stack, which means more application developments and, more specifically, industry clouds,” he says. “As generalists, cloud providers always have last-mile problem. You can’t do everything for everybody.”

After providing core services, Sustar says cloud providers then decide what strategic industries they will support where specialized platforms make sense. This could be part of an ecosystem for a particular industry, such as financial services or manufacturing. Edge is part of the mix as well, he says, because that last mile is often what a retail store or a branch office would want.

Megavendor Sway

The rise of megavendors, referring to hyperscalers with concentrated size and reach, has led to organizations becoming wary of being overly dependent on them, Sustar says. “So, you see a move towards multi-cloud,” he says, which could also be because workloads are different in some cases. It could also be to mitigate the risk of having all operations concentrated into one vendor, Sustar says. “They’re willing to put up with that to get some kind of flexibility, even though it’s not easy, to put it mildly, to just go from one cloud to another.”

There is a desire, he says, to have certain kinds of abstractions using standard containers for applications to try to avoid too many dependencies on the underlying cloud platforms so they have some autonomy. That could lead to a tradeoff, he says, where some opportunities for faster innovation are bypassed. “That’s the balance people are trying to strike,” Sustar says.

Geopolitical Dynamics

The past several years of concerns about data sovereignty have led to pronounced geopolitical influence of the cloud, he says, whether that is in Europe or elsewhere. “Technology is more and more tied up in trade wars and geopolitical conflict that you can see move,” Sustar says. There has also been a diversification of supply chains in response to the pandemic, which he says contributed to a trend for national and regional zones of clouds. “Some of the European players, the non-hyperscalers, are positioning themselves to address the needs of the European market,” he says, “around issues of data sovereignty that they don’t believe a US-based company, or a Chinese one for that matter, could fully address.”

(InformationWeek is a media partner of Forrester’s Technology & Innovation North America conference, Sep. 29 and 30 in Austin and online. Register with code FORRIW.)

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