Five cloud computing trends for 2021

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There’s no doubt that 2020 will be remembered as a year that accelerated technological change in the world of work. Forced out of their comfort zones, companies either adopted or more fully embraced technologies that they might have ignored previously.

So says Matt Wright, CTO of BlueSky, a cloud technology solution provider.

“According to the most recent “Cloud in Africa” report, cloud technology was vital in helping businesses manage the disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Among the most common uses of the cloud were disaster recovery (91%), remote working (82%) and customer service activities (52%).”

The providers that thrive in 2021 won’t be the ones that keep their ecosystems closed but the ones which have bridges to other providers’ services.

Matt Wright, CTO of BlueSky.

He says a few years ago, organisations might not have been able to survive these trying times as effectively. As recently as 2013, only 50% of businesses in SA, Kenya, and Nigeria were using some form of cloud computing, a number that sits at 100% today.

This begs the question: with cloud now ubiquitous, what trends will emerge in 2021 and what impact will they have on enterprise-scale businesses?

A business enabler

According to Wright, the increasing number of cloud applications may come hand in hand with more security risks, but they enable new ways of doing business too. “From accounting and payroll applications to office productivity suites, it’s possible to run much more of the business from the cloud than ever before.”

He says this means organisations are better equipped to run remotely, and this year, cloud’s role as enabler will only grow stronger as organisations adopt it for more of their day-to-day functions.

Hybrid cloud

In 2021, more businesses will adopt a hybrid cloud model, due to the speed, control, and enhanced security it offers. 

Hybrid cloud enables high levels of customisation which allows companies to adapt quickly.

Finally, Wright says a hybrid model also brings the dual coverage of both private and public cloud security, making it the best available option in most instances.

Security is paramount

While security has always been top of mind when it comes to the cloud, a slew of high-profile data breaches has only made it more so.

“With companies moving more and more applications to the cloud, the stakes of a breach are much higher than before. Where an organisation might previously have only used the cloud for backups, it’s now much more likely to use it for operational purposes.”

With data breaches costing on average R40-million, cloud providers will be under increasing pressure to show that they can keep customer data safe, irrespective of the applications they offer.

Building bridges between providers

For much of cloud computing’s history, Wright says the larger providers have had a “walled garden” approach to their offerings. They sold themselves on the basis that they were one-stop shops that could take care of all their customers’ cloud, data, and compute needs.

However, he says the rise of hybrid cloud and the specific requirements of different departments within a business means that’s no longer viable. 

“Organisations increasingly need different cloud applications from different providers to talk to each other. The providers that thrive in 2021 won’t be the ones that keep their ecosystems closed but the ones which have bridges to other providers’ services.”

AI, big data, and IOT

Over the ten years or so, AI, ML, big data and IOT have all grown alongside the cloud. However, today we are seeing cloud computing enabling these technologies.

He says by merging cloud computing with IOT and big data, organisations can boost production, gain access to the critical data of their customers, and make better business decisions. Moreover, when combined with AI, providers can make their cloud applications more functional for end-users, such as seen with Salesforce’s Einstein, which enables the capture of customer data, making it easier to track and personalise customer relationships.

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