To declare multi-cloud a “trend” in 2019 would be perhaps understating things; it’s becoming a go-to strategy in the majority of IT shops, to the extent that “cloud” increasingly means “multi-cloud” almost by default.
“Multi-cloud is already a reality,” says Amir Jerbi, CTO and co-founder at Aqua Security
That’s why multi-cloud and hybrid cloud play roles in the key trends Jerbi and other cloud experts foresee as we approach 2019. Multi-cloud and hybrid cloud are the new realities, but there’s still lots of change ahead.
Without further adieu, let’s consider the key cloud issues IT leaders should be paying attention to in the year ahead.
1. Multi-cloud approaches mature
If 2018 was the year that multi-cloud went mainstream, 2019 will be the year that multi-cloud strategies grow up.
“Virtually every large enterprise has applications running on multiple clouds,” Jerbi says. “The challenge for 2019 is making this a flexible, planned model, and not a haphazard result of disparate local initiatives.”
The most straightforward definition of multi-cloud – the use of more than one cloud service from more than one cloud service provider – means many organizations “go multi-cloud” almost by accident. As multi-cloud strategies become more intentional – especially with multi-cloud and hybrid cloud infrastructure – they will need a greater level of planning than in the past to ensure performance, reliability, budget, and other critical IT concerns are met.
“As major enterprises continue to shift workloads to the cloud, they’ll also be looking for ways to cut costs and improve availability and performance,” says Bhanu Singh, VP of engineering at OpsRamp. “The rise of AIOps and hybrid cloud management will spur momentum toward optimizing multi-cloud management and spend. Cloud’s now a fact of life, so it’s time to optimize for it.”
2. More organizations will refactor on-premises applications for cloud environments
While companies ahead of the curve become more advanced multi-cloud and hybrid cloud environments, there’s still plenty of runway for new adoption to take off.
“Many enterprises are still figuring out a singular public cloud strategy and how to refactor and move workloads before they can correctly architect for multi-cloud,” says Mike Kail, CTO at Everest.
“Refactor” is the operative word here: While cloud-native development will increasingly become a norm, expect more companies to begin refactoring existing on-premises applications and moving those workloads to cloud environments.
“In the next year, organizations will continue to move away from ‘lift and shift’ to refactoring or re-platforming applications to take advantage of native cloud service offerings,” says Ed Featherston, distinguished technologist at Cloud Technology Partners. This is among the multiple catalysts spurring interest in and adoption of containers and orchestration, as well as other emerging technologies.
“Kubernetes and container orchestration, in general, will be a large component of the refactoring and moving of workloads from on-premises to [cloud environments],” Kail says. “In conjunction, serverless/FaaS adoption will increase, as that is a natural partner of cloud-native architectures.”
[ Want to help others understand Kubernetes? Check out our related article, How to explain Kubernetes in plain English. ]
3. Kubernetes tames complexity
Even with (and certainly without) smart, flexible planning, the proliferation and maturing of multi-cloud and hybrid cloud environments – not to mention the outsized menu of options for CIOs to choose from – mean added complexity.
“The number of service offerings in the SaaS and PaaS space will continue to grow at breakneck speeds, challenging even the most agile organizations in keeping up with the capabilities and how to apply them,” Featherston says. “Multi-cloud and hybrid cloud will become the norm. Automation and DevOps processes will be critical in order to be successful, adapt, and be agile enough to adjust to the ever-changing landscape.”
Choice in the cloud market is good, but comes with a downside for organizations that lack planning, visibility, and oversight in their environments: “Multi-cloud” could be a nice way of saying “a sprawling patchwork of environments and services.” Consider it the cloud equivalent of tool salad in your CI/CD pipeline.
“As the number of IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS offerings continue to increase, there will be a subsequent increase in ‘shadow cloud’ deployments, as developers will still wield purchasing and decision-making power in the enterprise,” Kail says. “That, coupled with increased regulations, including GDPR, means the data privacy and security challenges, and unfortunately subsequent breaches, will become significantly more difficult.”
To be clear, the complexity of our brave new world is certainly manageable. Again, this is why platforms like Kubernetes are burning white-hot.
“Cloud-native technologies like containers really help to realize multi-cloud and true hybrid-cloud deployments,” Jerbi says.
Remember, Kubernetes can run on platforms including a laptop, VM, rack of bare-metal servers, and public/private cloud environment. Notes Red Hat technology evangelist Gordon Haff, “You can cluster together groups of hosts running Linux containers, and Kubernetes helps you easily and efficiently manage those clusters. These clusters can span hosts across public, private, and hybrid clouds.”
[ Kubernetes terminology, demystified: Get our Kubernetes glossary cheat sheet for IT and business leaders. ]