As the calendar turns to 2022, businesses around the world are preparing for another year of economic uncertainty, anxiety and threat. Those who seize the opportunities created by this changing landscape will be more successful, and their flexibility and adaptability may even determine whether they survive.
It’s no surprise, then, that cloud adoption continues to accelerate as enterprises seek agility and new sources of competitive advantage. Cloud-related spending has increased significantly in 2021 as the pandemic has placed urgent and unforeseen demands on information technology infrastructure. Gartner predicts it will accelerate even further, with end-user spending on public cloud services reaching $493 billion in 2022, an increase of nearly 22% year-over-year.
Today almost everyone makes at least some use of public cloud – avoiding it completely is almost unimaginable. You already have a cloud infrastructure; what you need is a cloud strategy. For many IT stores, this means applying governance and cost controls retroactively to infrastructure that is already in production.
As we do every year, Gartner made six predictions about what’s to come in the coming year and what engineers and architects should do about it. Here is our outlook for 2022:
- Cloud teams will optimize business outcomes, not technical implementation
- Hybrid and multi-cloud adoption will increase complexity and operational costs
- Business resiliency will be built into the application architecture
- Distributed cloud will replace private and hybrid cloud initiatives
- Containers and serverless will become an infrastructure foundation for application platforms
- Crisis-Level Skills Gap Will Undermine Cloud Innovation and Execution
Cloud teams will optimize business outcomes, not technical implementation
Cloud services allow smart business leaders to react quickly to opportunities – or threats. So don’t be shy. You can’t let debates over technical details derail the rapid transition to cloud services, even if it means making uncomfortable compromises on the quality of the initial implementation.
However, you cannot abdicate your responsibility to maintain the security and high availability of business functions. Instead, you need to implement flexible governance frameworks that can handle different risk profiles. Optimize cost and risk based on business needs. You should:
- Create a cloud adoption framework: A good framework is reusable, so you can quickly integrate new services while implementing lessons learned and avoiding past mistakes.
- Mitigate the risks created by suboptimal cloud adoption: The cloud faces supply, availability, privacy, compliance, concentration, and overshoot risks. You must create compensation controls for each.
- Develop a strategic cloud operating model: Formal governing bodies such as advisory boards, communities of practice and a cloud center of excellence will help.
Hybrid and multi-cloud adoption will increase complexity and operational costs
Everyone wants to say they’re multicloud, but true multicloud architectures are relatively rare. Building infrastructure that truly spans clouds is complex and expensive. Each cloud provider has proprietary features that give it differentiated value. Cloud services are not commodities; your multicloud architecture should capture the unique strengths of each vendor. You don’t want to end up with lowest common denominator functionality in clouds. And you can’t expect a single tool to provide seamless governance, monitoring, asset tracking, and security across all clouds. You must:
- Prioritize a main strategic supplier: Choose a strategic cloud primary provider — maybe two, if you have two significantly divergent needs — and master it. Use other suppliers tactically, only when you have business needs that cannot be met by your strategic supplier.
- Define a workload placement policy: Any multicloud architecture needs a placement topic that determines which workload goes where. Place workloads primarily based on data and integration affinity. Look for a “good enough” technical fit that meets your strategic goals.
Business resiliency will be built into the application architecture
Emerging cybersecurity threats (particularly ransomware) and the continued organizational disruptions of the pandemic shine a spotlight on IT resilience. Historically, carriers built disaster recovery capabilities into the infrastructure. But true IT resiliency is a feature of the application itself. Here’s where to start:
- Build resiliency in cloud-native applications: Protecting stateful data in Kubernetes means capturing an entire application and its dependencies in a way that allows orchestrated restore to another location or platform. You’ll need pervasive automation, continuous integration and deployment or a CI/CD pipeline, and container-aware backup tools.
- Redesign of IREs for ransomware: A secure isolated recovery environment functions as a safe place to conduct recovery activities. This is a separate environment from production and dev/test. It has dedicated systems, an immutable data vault, and no network access to production.
Distributed cloud will replace private and hybrid cloud initiatives
You want cloud services, but you might need them in your data center or at the edge. To achieve this, many IT organizations have attempted to create their own private and hybrid clouds. Most have never had real success. But today, you can simply buy a hybrid cloud, rather than building it yourself. The “distributed cloud” extends public cloud services to different locations, while ownership, operation, governance, updates and evolution of services remain the responsibility of the cloud provider. To leverage the distributed cloud:
- Assess cloud “substations” which are sold by major cloud providers, including the hardware and software needed to run on-premises public cloud services.
- Evaluate hyperconverged infrastructure, which provide the full infrastructure stack (virtual compute, storage, and networking) on-premises, plus hybrid cloud management tools.
- Rethink connectivity between places and devices: Distributed cloud and edge models push the boundaries of traditional approaches to network architecture. You need a network where connectivity follows data sources, using an array of multi-access technologies such as WiFi, 5G/LTE, LTE-M, NB-IoT, LoRA or even satellite links. You can even acquire your entire network from a network-as-a-service or managed-network service provider.
Containers and serverless will become an infrastructure foundation for application platforms
Containers offer consistent packaging and simplified management. Kubernetes is already the industry standard substrate for cloud portability. Its orchestration capabilities allow a container to be instantiated anywhere, making it the ideal code delivery vehicle across public and private clouds. Take full advantage of these technologies in the public cloud:
- Use vendor-native container self-service platforms: The easiest way to deploy a container orchestration platform in production is to use a container platform as a service or CaaS managed in the public cloud, which saves the infrastructure and management teams from operation to have to build and support their own container orchestration platform. .
- Evaluate “serverless” container platforms: These ingest containers and provision the necessary infrastructure resources automatically, on demand. They go beyond managed Kubernetes services, which still require the user to set up worker nodes for clusters. They can be an interesting middle ground between CaaS and platform-as-a-service models.
Crisis-Level Skills Gap Will Undermine Cloud Innovation and Execution
Although cloud infrastructure is not new, the enterprise IT community has simply not acquired cloud skills fast enough to meet the growing demand for cloud services. In many IT organizations, the lack of cloud skills has reached critical levels. This is often the real barrier to cloud adoption.
Worse still, many organizations find it impractical to hire cloud experts. Gartner analysis shows that cloud management skills are among the most in-demand. Qualified candidates do not stay long in the labor market and they obtain high salaries.
Therefore, you will need to develop your cloud skills internally. To start:
- Prioritize Kubernetes and DevOps skills: These have become essential skills for managing cloud-native applications. They are highly transferable, widely applicable and widely scalable.
- Build a Talent Enablement Program: Integrate skills development into your organizational goals and individual performance reviews. A formal TEP fills organization-wide skills gaps and creates an environment for positive change.
Paul Delory is a senior analyst director at Gartner Inc., providing deep technical expertise to system administrators and the vendors who serve them. His research focuses on automation and next-generation infrastructure. He wrote this article for Tech To See.
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