More complexity, more automation and data sovereignty concerns -- cloud predictions for 2023

No longer the new 'big thing', the cloud has matured into something that almost all organizations rely on daily. But it's still evolving and its importance has grown over the last two years as we've switched to remote and hybrid working.

Here are some expert views on what lies ahead for the cloud in 2023.

Ulfar Erlingsson, chief architect at Lacework, says the cloud will become more complex. "The complexities of the cloud are only increasing as more applications and workloads are migrated to the cloud. This dynamic will likely never change. Cloud capabilities continue to expand, and most companies' workloads already comprise several generations of cloud technologies, often span multiple different cloud providers, and increasingly involve a web of third-party SaaS services. The cloud is different from on-prem operations, and in many ways more difficult, which is why you need security tools and processes in place as soon as possible. Some companies are just starting their move to the cloud and while others are already well on their way, they're all learning about the many challenges that come with that transition. In particular, moving to the cloud necessitates developing a continuous development and operations culture, since the cloud is based on frequently-upgraded services and open-source software -- which itself requires adopting secure software development practices and a shift-left organizational change."

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Automation will help to make the cloud more secure says Bernard Sanders, co-founder of CloudBolt Software. "2023 will be the year the C-suite at a growing number of organizations will increasingly heed the advice of security professionals working in the trenches and understand the risks and vulnerabilities they are seeing. They will eliminate manual processes in configuring workloads and support the smart automation of cloud security practices for existing and new resources. Their IT teams will move from reactive to proactive security, including standardization on security-approved, automated workload deployments."

Rex Ahlstrom, CTO of Syniti, says the spotlight will be on cloud data management:

Now that more solutions are becoming cloud-native, there are many more opportunities for enterprises looking to replace outdated data management tools. They provide options to develop a ‘best of breed’ solution set that precisely satisfies the needs of the customer because they are built for extensibility and integration.

When you consider all the different components, such as cloud infrastructure, integration, data lakes, analytics platforms and such, it makes sense that customers are increasingly looking to combine these features between key application providers and their cloud platform providers.

For instance, a client choosing to shift their IT infrastructure to the cloud will seek out a cloud provider that not only provides computing and storage but also data management services and solutions that will speed up their digital transformation. They need to consider compatibility of these services with the essential business applications that will run on the cloud platform.

If core applications can be extended with extensive functionality outside of infrastructure, the transition will guarantee the best business outcome possible and not merely be an exchange of CapEx for OpEx. Platforms, programs and tools that may hasten this integration and expansion -- or aid in making it quicker and easier -- will therefore be in greater demand.

Public cloud providers will make huge investments into open source software, and make more contributions back to the community, says Ahana co-founder and CEO, Steven Mih. "In the past cloud vendors have been accused of strip-mining OSS software projects. Cloud vendors will go on the 'offensive' by contributing to open source more aggressively and even donating their own projects to open source communities."

John Hendley, head of strategy at IBM Security X-Force, believes hiring talent to secure the cloud will be an issue. "Entering 2023, hiring the talent required to secure the cloud will be a challenge for security leaders considering the large number in very niche, specialized roles. With so many companies increasingly going all in on cloud --- and a skills crisis worsening year by year -- the solution to the skills gap lies in cybersecurity generalists. Organizations will recruit more generalists who have a track record of success and build up internal teams by reskilling specialists back to generalists to help secure the cloud."

Tobi Knaup, CEO at D2iQ, says better control is needed over cloud costs:

Organizations are struggling to monitor and control costs in the cloud, leading to wasted resources and excessive spending. A FinOps Foundation survey, for example, found that insufficient -- or nonexistent -- Kubernetes cost monitoring is causing overspend, and a recent KPMG survey showed that roughly 67 percent of 1,000 senior technology leaders at US firms across industries said they have yet to see a significant return on cloud investments.

The solution is to build in cost visibility and management from the beginning, with unified views across all environments, and to share resources whenever possible. Automation in the form of cost management tools like Kubecost will increasingly be integrated into Kubernetes platforms to provide real-time, granular cost monitoring and analysis across disparate environments. In addition, centralized management will enable more efficient resource-sharing across teams and infrastructure platforms.

Cloud providers will need to shift focus towards their consumers, says Lior Koriat, CEO of Quali. "Everything that helps bring environments to the consumers of cloud infrastructure will win the attention of the market. The number of cloud consumers (i.e. developers, testers, SREs, etc.) is exponentially growing in the world, while the cloud becomes more complex and organizations are trying to be in greater control over cloud security and spend. The market is also realizing that not every person who can code has the requisite skills to produce cloud automation because of the rising skillset bar and the targeted expertise necessary to safely create cloud automation assets. This creates an infrastructure access gap between consumers of the cloud and producers of automation assets. Solving the infrastructure gap is going to consume the time and minds of DevOps and IT teams, providing governed self-service access that is plugged into the daily life of the developer, our modern-day consumers of the cloud."

Donnie Berkholz, SVP product at Percona, believes sovereignty and control over data will become a major issue:

Rules on data privacy and digital sovereignty are continuing to expand. Following on from the GDPR, CCPA and EU rules on data privacy, more countries have adopted these rules and regulations to protect their citizens. Countries want to prevent too much control over data by foreign companies. For the EU, this includes looking at how to manage this when US companies effectively own the cloud computing market, and what this means for the future.

This is a problem for businesses that have to operate across regions and countries, as they will have more restrictions on where they can and can’t process their data. Open source database communities are responding to this -- for example, PostgreSQL 15 launched this year, with its improvements to Logical Replication, so you can set limits and geo-fence subsets of your data so it is restricted to specific locations and can't be replicated outside where it is needed.

Vidya Chadaga, VP products at Cleo, says greater visibility is needed to justify cloud investments. “In 2023, visibility tools that provide actionable insights to justify ROI from cloud investment will become critical to exposing positive business outcomes. Businesses have proven that successful cloud deployment is possible, but now they're seeking to reap the returns of their technology investments. It doesn’t matter if you have cloud technology if you don't know how it's impacting both internal and external business commitments made to your customers. To that end, visibility and effective tooling allow organizations to gain awareness of how the business is being conducted via cloud applications.”

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