A look ahead at the Cloud offerings enterprises are most eager to adopt

Members of IDG’s Influencer Network foresee an array of ‘as-a-Service’ solutions

“Enterprises that don’t shift their thinking to leverage cloud offerings will be consistently dragged down behind their competitors with regard to what they are able to accomplish.”

So says Diana Nolting (@DianaNolting), director of product at a new High Alpha company and a member of the IDG Influencer Network, a community of journalists, industry analysts, and IT professionals.

That sense of urgency was emphasized by many of the influencers who, like Nolting, were polled recently for their thoughts about the new cloud offerings that will be most in demand by enterprises in the next two years.

Among the offerings making their list: AI-enhanced services, an expanding array of “as-a-Service” solutions, and “anything that simplifies multi-cloud engagements.”

“Some of the most important and desired cloud offerings will be those powered by artificial intelligence technologies such as machine learning, natural language processing, and chatbots,” said Dwight Davis (LinkedIn), a computer industry analyst and writer. “AI-enhanced cloud services will span most disciplines, but among the most popular will be services used to identify and counter cyber threats.”

Paul O’Brien (@PaulOBrien), technology and innovation director at ServiceTick, says the “large cloud players” are already making moves to democratize AI, a trend he expects will continue.

“AI will be accessible to everyone rather than just data scientists, and at a low cost too,” he said.


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Get ready for an ‘as-a-Service” barrage

“The enterprise is growing from ‘Move the data center out to the cloud’ to ‘Give me the services I need to innovate my business,’” said Ed Featherston (@efeatherston), vice president and principal architect at Cloud Technology Partners. “That will be supported with enhanced machine learning capabilities applied across the spectrum. Machine learning services will be critical in supporting security needs, protection, detection, and mitigation.”

Scott Zoldi (@ScottZoldi), chief analytics officer at FICO, sees two big “as-a-Service” offerings on the horizon.

“The first is Machine Learning-as-a-Service, in which ML modeling workbenches will sit close to cloud-persisted data. The best of these will enable various ML algorithms that are both interpretable and explainable,” he said. “The second is Decisioning-as-a-Service, which will focus on business decisions that need to be made, harvesting data to ensure proper data governance and linking to ML-as-a-Service.”

Nicholas Evans (@NicholasDEvans), founder of Thinkers360, likewise foresees two major categories of sought-after offerings.

“The first can be described as Capability-as-a-Service,” he said. “Offerings such as Blockchain-as-a-Service and AI-as-a-Service will be in increasing demand so that enterprises can rapidly access and build on top of these services to speed time to market for their own industry-specific use cases and applications. The second will be industry-focused platform business models (i.e., industry clouds such as manufacturing clouds) so enterprises can access ready-made, ecosystem-centric, highly advanced apps and services and immediately put them to work in their business.”

Tony Flath (@TmanSpeaks), senior practice lead at TELUS Security, expects public cloud growth to continue as “laggards” flock to move premises-based infrastructure to full IaaS.

“SaaS growth will continue as well, as business applications providers will continue to move their solutions to a cloud-only service model, and new applications development and offerings will be dominated by SaaS cloud,” he said. “As 5G rolls out and IoT continues its growth, edge computing will become meshed with hybrid cloud design. By the end of two years, cloud will become a true utility baked into all things technology.”

Vi Bergquist (@vibergquist), CIO and vice president of IT and Learning Resources Services at St. Cloud Technical College, expects that adoption of cloud services in the enterprise will only accelerate.

“The SaaS model has helped us reduce costs on several fronts and has been well received by our users,” she said. “Almost two years ago we transitioned our users to Microsoft Office 365 in the cloud. Our customers really like having the ability to access what they need from anywhere at any time. I see the trend to the cloud continuing at all Microsoft-using organizations.”

Edge computing, IoT, and the rise of deception technologies

Observing that cloud is now a “foundational vehicle,” Jo Peterson (@digitalcloudgal), vice president of cloud services at Clarify360, expects enterprises to focus on the following five trends over the next two years: “Back-end use of cloud for emerging tech like Blockchain, hardening of security as enterprises move more and more workloads to the public cloud, the growth of edge computing as IoT takes a stronger industrial hold, the continued rise of containers, and increased interest in serverless computing.”

“Anything that simplifies multi-cloud engagements will be considered very useful,” noted Craig Mullins (@craigmullins), president and principal consultant at Mullins Consulting. “A multi-cloud strategy has the advantage of no vendor lock-in but can be challenging to implement. Offerings that make it easier to manage and integrate networking, application, and developer services across a multi-cloud implementation will be in vogue.”

Kayne McGladrey (@kaynemcgladrey), director of information security services at Integral Partners LLC, said he expects rapid growth in “cloud-based deception technologies” that can deploy and monitor virtual machines and containers at scale.

“Enterprises will increasingly use these commercial honeynets to detect breaches and will benefit from the ability to stop breaches in progress and fulfill regulatory requirements for consumer breach notification,” he said. “The challenge will be for the vendors in this space to be able to emulate an increasing array of computers, IoT devices, and container-based technologies so that these appear as legitimate targets from a threat actor’s vantage point.”

Likewise, Amber Mac (@ambermac), a technology speaker and author, predicted that “the fusion of IoT devices and cloud services will enable more device intelligence.” Mac also expects hybrid cloud offerings to continue to gain momentum in the enterprise.

While noting that his crystal ball can be cloudy, Tom Henderson (@extremelabs), principal researcher at ExtremeLabs Inc., nevertheless observed that “large data set storage” is in no danger of disappearing any time soon.

“Moving [these data sets] back and forth among hybrid and cloud-born hosts will become de rigueur,” he said. “One cloud host manipulating data sets as ‘rentals’ will emerge, meaning: ‘Use your workloads and AI logic against our vast pool of data in such a way that you get your results without owning the data set.’”

Clearly, the future of cloud services is just getting started. For more information, go to www.intel.com/csp.