Tighter integration, collaboration and 'cloudjacking' -- cloud predictions for 2021

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We've seen a general move to the cloud over the last few years, while 2020's pandemic has forced more organizations to turn to the cloud in order to support their remote workers.

Can we expect this trend to continue into next year and what other factors might come into play?

Pip White, managing director UK and Ireland at Google Cloud thinks the cloud will become more tightly integrated into corporate culture:

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The unprecedented working environment created by COVID-19 led boards and executives to accelerate their digital transformations. Until now, cloud migration has been an infrastructure decision, promising to change the way business devices and information systems interact with each other. But cloud migration brings another type of transformation too -- of a company's culture -- and it's coming to the forefront of conversations.

As we enter 2021, cloud migration will be increasingly driven by the need to establish a culture of continuous innovation to keep pace with rapid change. Untethering staff from low value, labour-intensive tasks and allowing them to focus on innovation and high-impact projects. Companies will move away from what might have been top-down corporate strategies, to fully infusing transformation and letting every person in an organisation transform. Businesses will also need to embrace an 'anywhere operations model', as coined by Gartner, that allows for business products and services to be accessed, delivered, and enabled anywhere. New ways of working will emerge, as will new ways to create, collaborate and innovate.

Manoj Choudhary, CTO of Jitterbit thinks multi-cloud adoption will become vendor-neutral, "Of all the converging trends that will impact business growth for small, medium and large businesses this coming year, cloud computing is at the forefront. In 2020, the adoption of public cloud computing -- whether Google, Azure, AWS, or others -- grew significantly, and this trend will continue in 2021. I expect many more companies to adopt cloud computing as an IT strategy for CIOs in the coming year, but to do so, IT leaders will need to be ready with enterprise-grade integration strategies that can span multiple public and private clouds, making true hybrid cloud initiatives feasible."

The team at Devolutions believe the cloud will become a safe haven, "For many years, companies hesitated to implement cloud projects because of security concerns. However, today the cloud is not just as safe as legacy on-premise data centers, but in some respects it is even more secure. For example, cloud service providers monitor security 24/7/365 and conduct ongoing penetration and vulnerability testing, which is a level of continuous scrutiny that many companies cannot provide. In addition, most cloud services have built-in security features, such as the ability to shut down any part of a system if a risk or threat is detected, along with app role-based authentication. Data can also be wiped remotely if machines are breached or stolen."

Mike Riemer, global chief technology officer of Ivanti worries about the threat of 'cloudjacking', "As companies across industries continue to move towards hybrid IT environments, the threat of cloud security breaches is at an all-time high. Financial institutions, which have traditionally been slower to adopt cloud technologies due to heavy regulations and security concerns, accelerated their digital transformations in 2020 as COVID-19 brought about new challenges. These businesses are now faced with a customer base seeking digital-first services, and they are leveraging cloud-based infrastructure to maintain customer satisfaction. As a result of this rapid transition to a hybrid cloud environment, we could see the cloud-jacking of a major financial institution that results in bad actors gaining control of highly sensitive customer information."

Michael Wood, CMO at Versa Networks thinks the drive to cloud native will continue:

Cloud adoption has been steadily growing over the last decade. 2020 was one of the biggest tests of the cloud and became a bright spot for those businesses operating with a cloud-first imperative reaping the lion's share of the rewards. Organisations were able to scale and adapt their business models by leveraging the cloud because they leveraged the multitude of choices for SaaS applications, hosting alternatives, and high-speed cloud backbones for public cloud application hosting.

Organisations have been redefining their application, hosting, and IT strategies in 2020 to become cloud native which will continue into 2021 and result in an explosive shift to the cloud. New businesses will be born, existing cloud-first organisations will accelerate, and those who continue to ignore the shift will be left behind in 2021.

Adrian Moir, lead technology evangelist at Quest Software thinks that, "In 2021, we'll see the continuation of the shift from data centres to the collaborative cloud. The cloud enables simplified collaboration and is more accessible to a broader set of people within an organisation. However, alongside this shift, organisations will need to reassess how they secure and protect the data that no longer resides in a data centre. As we move forward protecting those cloud collaborative technologies will be just as important. Expect organisations to leverage the tools in more constructive ways than just for communication. There will be expectations set on using these technologies as a core part of a business and as such protecting the content will become even more important."

Don Foster, global VP of sales engineering at Commvault believes more enterprises will choose to rearchitect their applications for the cloud, "COVID-19 forced many organizations to accelerate their cloud adoption plans. During the pandemic they needed the scalability of the cloud to meet exploding business and consumer demand for their organization’s digital services. At the same time, they wanted to outsource management of computing, storage, and other infrastructure to cloud services providers, allowing their IT teams to stay out of their offices or data centers and instead focus on managing their business-critical applications. However, these enterprises are now seeing their operational budgets take a hit from the big bills they receive each month from cloud services providers for hosting applications designed for on-premises infrastructure, not the cloud. In years past, we might see a boomerang approach to these high costs, with enterprises quickly shifting their applications and workloads back to on-premises infrastructure after their immediate need for cloud application hosting had passed. Yet, if it was not clear before, COVID-19 has demonstrated that it is hard to match the flexibility, scalability, and other benefits of the cloud, and that if your organizations does not already have long-term cloud centric strategy in place, it should. Because of this, expect IT organizations to make the rearchitecting of their applications and workloads into cloud native formats one of their top digital transformation priorities in 2021. By optimizing these applications and workloads for the cloud they can realize all the benefits of the cloud, while cutting down their monthly cloud service bills."

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