In 2016, we will see very little difference in the large amount of spending for information technology dedicated to cloud computing. As organizations further adapt their IT strategies to take advantage of the opportunities and overcome the challenges, the cloud will be the main focal point. This ongoing digital transformation promises to continue to expand the growing voice and clout of IT leaders in enterprises’ senior leadership ranks.
IDC (News - Alert), the global technology research firm, underscores cloud computing’s rise from just a few years ago, when many executives asked, “What is this cloud?” IDC sees the cloud software market alone surging to $112.8 billion by 2019 from $48.8 billion in 2014. That’s more than an 18 percent compound annual growth rate and would represent $1 of every $4.59 spent on software.
Spending on the cloud will be wide-ranging, as chief information officers focus on outcomes and results-based approaches to deploying and managing their IT environments. Spending will range from transferring dedicated infrastructure that runs critical operations into a private or hybrid cloud infrastructure to exploit infrastructure-as-a-service, to investing in disaster recovery and security measures, including encryption and malware detection. These outlays illuminate that the cloud is a wide spectrum of elements able to complement each other and not just one big phenomenon.
Additionally, CIOs are under increased pressure to maintain an IT infrastructure that keeps their businesses operating without interruption in more cost-affordable ways. As a result, CIOs seek the “quick wins” and are more inclined to maintain a legacy system that runs mission-critical services.
With that context as a backdrop, here are nine key trends that will shape cloud IT in 2016 as CIOs further harness the power of the digital revolution.
#1 Rise of hybrid cloud adoption, management
Expect to see enterprises heavily embrace private and hybrid cloud capabilities to better manage their applications and achieve the cost savings from virtualization and “as-a-service” models from service providers and vendors. (Think of those that begin with “infrastructure,” “software” and “platform.”) Enterprises, in particular, are expected to build and run hybrid cloud environments to maximize the resiliency and responsiveness to the business’ needs.
However, this increases complexity, since these new cloud infrastructures must coexist with legacy infrastructure. Several critical questions arise: How do you ensure resiliency across virtual and legacy environments? How can you integrate systems and applications to deliver high performance and availability? How do you ensure security in a diversified environment?
More companies are recognizing they don’t possess the internal IT staff to integrate and manage all these moving parts. Consequently, more CIOs are contracting with third-party cloud and IT services providers that can deploy and manage these environments while their IT staffs concentrate on those activities that help differentiate the organization and help achieve their business goals.
#2 More focus on keeping things running without disruption
Cloud adoption has led many businesses to believe they are “covered” from a disaster recovery standpoint. After all, the cloud is virtual and remote, right? What could possibly go wrong? However, the cloud doesn’t guarantee recoverability: Clouds can go down and data can be lost. Interdependencies between applications – legacy and virtual – can be broken, as well.
Consequently, CIOs will devote more time to ensuring they know exactly what any third-party cloud service vendor they retain will provide if a disruption occurs. For instance, they’re not assuming as many once did that any service level agreement with a vendor will get their IT operations back on track in the time frame they expect. Instead, they’re looking at the required recovery point objective – the maximum targeted period in which data might be lost from an IT service from a major incident – their applications need.
Gartner (News - Alert) believes that, by 2018, the number of organizations using disaster recovery-as-a-service will exceed those that use traditional, syndicated recovery services. And, businesses will require more from RaaS providers than ever before, including end-to-end recoverability for customers.
#3 A push to ensure critical systems are efficient and resilient
The ability to make the most of an IT environment determines so many vital aspects of a business – from process efficiencies and application performance to customer satisfaction and higher revenue. As a result, CIOs will continue to step up efforts to make sure all of their critical systems are efficient and robust, both cloud and legacy apps.
CIOs will embrace new cloud computing services for their agile applications and services to help ensure their organizations’ competitiveness. CIOs recognize that cloud infrastructure and software-as-a-service applications are a viable alternative to spending money to refresh end-of-life legacy infrastructure that is dedicated and inefficient.
#4 Taking more chances in the cloud
As CIOs and IT professionals gain an increasingly granular grasp of different cloud infrastructures and services, they are leveraging these new cloud computing models to take more market risk. Increasingly, they recognize they can gain clear and quick outcomes and results with these models.
For instance, one company with a unique medical application and prototype decided to leverage a cloud model to accelerate its time to market. In four days, it took its application from prototype to market, instead of the several months it normally might require.
#5 Hybrid cloud will become a greater focus in supporting private clouds
Companies will begin to embrace hybrid cloud offerings to complement their private cloud installations. CIOs will see the value of combining the scale and virtualization advantages of a private cloud with the quick, responsive capabilities of an off-premises hybrid cloud, such as a multi-tenant shared cloud. Advantages of this model are off-premises recovery, bursting capabilities during peak usage, additional capacity for temporary development and/or testing needs.
Recognizing the power of hybrid cloud offerings enables CIOs a more granular approach to determining their application needs. They grasp that not all applications fit into the same infrastructure and, instead, are letting their application requirements dictate the appropriate infrastructure and recovery needs.
#6 CIOs won’t take service levels for granted if a disruption occurs
Sometimes, an IT organization assumes that data availability will be provided no matter what. That may prove untrue and an organization’s critical applications may not be up and running when it’s needed most. This happens when IT professionals don’t take the time to understand the support structure of a third-party cloud provider when a disruption occurs. This oversight can prove to be expensive
That’s why more CIOs are determining what, specifically, their third-party providers’ service level agreements, recovery point objectives and recovery time objectives cover should a data disruption occur.
#7 Organizations will better manage migrations to the cloud
CIOs recognize that with their complex infrastructures – legacy systems as well as use of a hybrid cloud environment – they must better manage the migration of each application as an individual migration effort vs. a wholesale cutover. For instance, a major logistics company has built a 10-year plan where some legacy applications are not even scheduled to begin cloud migration activities for two-to-three years into the plan.
Consequently, it’s the IT services provider that can work with the customer to tailor its migration plan on its timeframe while aligning with the customer’s goals and enabling it to generate better management across the entire IT environment
#8 Security will continue to be a major cloud concern
CIOs continue to recognize that cybercrooks get increasingly more sophisticated, forcing them to be ever more vigilant to avoid data breaches. However, sometimes it’s the “simple” activities that put them at most risk.
For instance, some CIOs struggle to just keep up with all the patching required to maintain their complex IT environments. Delays in this patching are an open door for these cybercrooks and CIOs are looking to IT service providers that can help with some of the “basics” that haven’t become so basic with these new cloud and legacy environments.
#9 Mobile cloud is now a given
As consumers use more digital devices, at home and at work, CIOs are responding as mobile and the cloud converge. They will spend more on mobile cloud, recognizing that users can store and access much more mobile data on the cloud and their data is safe and accessible if their mobile device is lost or stolen.
So, as 2016 progresses, CIOs will continue to modernize, streamline and secure their organizations’ IT operations by employing a cloud-first strategy for their software applications. At the same time, their voices will carry more weight in senior management circles as top leaders recognize the critical importance of their network infrastructure, especially in the cloud.
Wade Alt is senior vice president of Global Solutions Engineering at Sungard Availability Services.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi