Hybrid cloud trends to watch in 2018: Skills, security, and more

Despite the promise of hybrid cloud, many organisations will go into 2018 attempting to work out how to derive real value from it.

As we near the end of 2017, here we examine the top hybrid cloud trends to watch out for in the coming year.

Trend 1: Transforming customer experiences and targeted business outcomes with the Internet of Things

There’s still a great deal of speculation about the potential value that IoT will bring businesses. For IoT to deliver, it’s critical for businesses to stop thinking about IoT as simply a collection of connected sensors and devices. Businesses need to leverage the power that modern analytics systems provide. It’s the combination of the data collected at the edge of the network, the networks themselves, and the big data analysis that comprise true IoT.

IoT projects are already providing tangible benefits to organisations that have approached them with clear business needs in mind, and this is a trend we see continuing in the year ahead.

Trend 2: Hybrid cloud containment is a pervasive issue

Public cloud has largely failed to live up to expectations. Already proving to be more expensive than many organisations originally thought, these costs are continuing to escalate, and most haven’t reduced their headcount. This is because a certain set of skills is needed to run public cloud environments, versus traditional, on-premise operations.

In the next 12 months, we’ll see businesses carefully assessing the return on investment generated by their ‘generation 1’ cloud projects and reducing and/or reviewing their consumption-based opex budgets in favour of what could be developed in-house, this time using more intelligent tools. Rather than continuing to consume public cloud, many organisations will consider building their own private clouds. This approach is already gaining traction in the financial services industry where we’re seeing an increase in open stack implementations for large-scale private environments.

Trend 3: Increasing understanding of the platform economy

Digital marketplaces are changing the face of business. Organisations will recognise the true potential of the platform economy, but they’ll also begin to realise its impact on their operating models, and the fundamental changes that they need to make to be successful.

In the platform economy, the risk shifts from the consumer to the provider. Organisations that operate platforms need to make significant upfront investments to build their platforms, before they receive revenue. This means that they need to change their commercial and pricing models to factor in the new risk that they’re taking on.

Trend 4: Hybrid cloud solutions are becoming verticalised

As we move through 2018, we’ll see more vertical cloud solutions coming to market, as smaller cloud providers look for ways to differentiate themselves from the hyperscalers. In the year ahead, we can expect to see these smaller players investing significantly in industry-specific compliance regimes, to build credibility within their target market.

The result will be hybrid cloud offerings that span the entire spectrum of the XaaS stack, Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), which deliver a comprehensive solution for specific verticals. These solutions will cover everything from the infrastructure layer, to platform tools that customers’ development teams can use to build new services without the fear of any compliance breaches, to the application that’s delivering the service.

Trend 5: The rise of hybrid cloud management solutions

Businesses will continue to commit to multi-cloud architectures – both public and private, and from several different providers. While there are significant benefits to this approach, it can result in greater management complexity and many organisations’ internal IT teams are finding it increasingly difficult to manage ‘workload sprawl’ within their environments.

As a result, businesses are recognising the importance of having a defined set of management tools to run their operations, and we can expect to see an increase in demand for hybrid cloud management solutions.

In the year ahead, organisations that set out to build hybrid cloud environments will be looking to source and adopt specific workload-centric management solutions that can be run across multiple platforms. These will include hybrid cloud management tools for IaaS – both private and public – as well as PaaS and SaaS.

I also predict that in the year ahead, more businesses will invest in new automation and orchestration software that enable improved application performance and analytics.

Trend 6: Industry skills and talent pool continue to shrink

The talent pool of people available to help organisations architect, implement, and operate hybrid cloud solutions will continue to shrink in the year ahead. As every organisation accelerates its move to become a digital business to remain competitive, software engineering will become the essential trade. In 2018, we’ll start to see this manifesting in a war for talent. There’ll be a significant spike in demand for software development talent graduating from tertiary institutions, as organisations seek the skills they need to build their digital front-ends.

Trend 7: Expectation for service providers to deliver a unified, embedded cyber security posture – across all platforms and services

Organisations that appoint service providers to take on the management of their hybrid, multiple, dispersed, and potentially unrelated IT platforms, will expect them to enable an end-to-end security posture that spans the entire platform.

As we move into 2018, the assumption from organisations is that hybrid cloud is secure. Therefore, they’ll expect their service providers to offer robust security measures that cover on-premise and cloud-based assets, the network, and applications – all built into an intelligent security core.

Providers should be able to demonstrate their understanding of how digital infrastructure, digital workplaces, and cloud environments expose new risks, and be capable of re-evaluating the most appropriate and cost-effective security controls. Organisations should also look for providers that can offer a holistic approach, with robust detection and incident response capabilities, and the ability to act effectively and efficiently, regardless of the location of a security incident.

As we move into 2018, those organisations that take note of these key hybrid cloud trends will reap the benefits and stay ahead of the pack.