In some ways 2019 will be business as usual for the major public cloud providers. Their IaaS model is well-entrenched, and any new technology which drives CPU and RAM consumption on their platforms will be more than welcome, writes Stephan Fabel, Director of Product Management at Canonical.
However, with multi-cloud becoming the norm, the major players will have to prove their worth more than ever before in an enterprise’s IT strategy. Price wars between the leaders have proven to result in a race to the bottom, so instead they’re looking to differentiate.
We expect to see Google focus on its AI credentials, Microsoft on its workload migration capabilities, and Amazon to continue pushing AWS hard in the public sector space.
This differentiation will be important for the incumbents as it could be the year they come under increasing pressure from other public cloud players. IBM’s acquisition of Red Hat is a signal of potential competition, while eastern players such as Alibaba and Tencent continue to improve their capabilities locally, undoubtedly with an eye on international expansion.
Automating AI in the Cloud
The increasing size and complexity of cloud deployments means that the old habit of not caring about where and how the cloud runs until you have to is dying. Instead, there has been a widespread shift to the automation of monitoring, resource allocation, and troubleshooting within the cloud.
Upscaling this automation of processes into true AI which can adapt is the next step, and one which we’ll see in 2019 arising out of necessity due to the fluid nature of cloud usage. The rise of multi-cloud, alongside a fear of vendor lock-in, has resulted in cloud strategies not being as static as they once were – meaning non-adaptable automation of processes isn’t sustainable in the long run.
Concepts such as auto-healing are of undeniable value to any cloud team but, without truly adaptable AI, it will be increasingly difficult for them to succeed and keep up within the shifting complexity of the cloud landscape.
Why Multi-Cloud is on the Rise
Multi-cloud strategies reached new levels of adoption last year, with Virtustream finding 86 per cent of enterprises to be taking such an approach. But despite considerable uptake already, we expect multi-cloud’s prominence to grow further still in 2019.
Multi-cloud is almost becoming the default cloud strategy as organisations look to avoid vendor lock-in, granting themselves greater flexibility in deploying the most relevant cloud across different departments and functions.
While such an approach offers the added bonus of improving ROI, it is the increased performance and autonomy which are most appealing to enterprises. Instead of being restricted to the ecosystem of one vendor, a multi-cloud approach permits organisations to deploy a mixture of cloud apps to suit their needs across the business, while at the same time technologies such as Kubernetes can be used to containerise and deploy applications across different cloud providers when necessary.
Kubernetes as the Industry Standard
The value of containerisation has been almost universally realised, and adoption of Kubernetes has almost hit a peak rate, making it essentially an industry standard. The challenge in 2019 will be to progress beyond the early adoption of containers towards using them to manage deployments at larger scales.
The ubiquity of Kubernetes will likely drive consolidation within the container market. While open source development is beneficial overall, the sheer number of Kubernetes distributions currently on the market will be hard to sustain. As larger vendors look to improve and differentiate their own distributions with specific capabilities, expect smaller niche players to be snapped up for their expertise.
In general, we are likely to see a continued break down of computing into smaller bits to add to the competitive landscape between cloud providers. Technologies such as serverless computing will likely play an increasingly important role over the next twelve months. We expect to see the beginnings of open source serverless solutions start to compete for broad acceptance in the developer community, which will shape the future of that technology ecosystem for years to come.
Open Source as a Leader
Challenges remain for businesses when attempting to deploy cloud computing effectively, especially as complexity increases due to demands for multi-cloud strategies. It seems likely that the trend of creating Lego-like building blocks to help standardise and bring more order to cloud stacks (such as Kubernetes, OpenStack etc.) will continue and even increase.
This is true as businesses realise the benefits of the CI/CD (continuous integration/continuous delivery) approach which the current fast-moving pace of cloud innovation demands. Using open source technology means less disruption with each new implementation and allows dev teams to fine tune new software more effectively. The commercial benefits of this approach are also clear, as it allows teams to more readily pinpoint changes in productivity as a result of software implementations.