The Future of Cloud

by Manuel Belsak  

In 2013, I got my first job at a small IT start-up. We developed a few products and hosted them on physical servers at the office. As I considered owning my own business one day, the realization that an investment in hardware would be necessary was a dire one.  However, I was introduced to the world of the public cloud in 2017, and my business and entrepreneurship perspective completely changed.  

The introduction of the public cloud made it easy to host and scale, and the only hardware needed to run a business would be a computer.  The public cloud has enabled countless technology start-ups and challenged established businesses to revisit their approach and accelerate their business models. Since its creation, public cloud leaders have remained relatively similar, so in thinking ahead to what is next, we offer the following perspective.

Hosting and computing capabilities are at the core of cloud. In the future, this is not going to change, but the way and place of execution will. Today, we are just at the start of edge computing and usage of IoT devices. Try to imagine several IoT devices that are extended by minimal cloud capabilities, like execution of functions using IoT device memory and CPU. That IoT device could be anywhere in the world, far away in remote locations with no internet connection, but still maintain capabilities. In the next few years, we will still have core cloud functions that we use today, but computing will be on edge locations close to the application source. These edge locations will extend cloud capabilities, introducing the need to develop new security, governance, network and compute concepts, like running micro containers.

AI and Machine learning play a big role in public cloud capabilities and, in the future, will continue to grow. We collect more data each day, and it is processed and used in countless ways. Public Cloud computing offers a flexible way to process data fast.  A training model requires intense computing power, and with increased growth of smart devices and machines, the demand for compute power will grow. Once we have a fast way to stream data into the cloud from any device, we will be able to make more accurate decisions. And with that we will need a way to process data faster and more frequently. This concept is illustrated in the automotive industry through attempts to develop autonomous driving. To increase car decision-making accuracy, manufacturers must improve driving decision-making models all the time, so that the more data it produces the better driving performance will be. Cars will produce an enormous amount of data daily, and it will need to be delivered to a cloud centre or a remote location. Once we have a fast way to stream data, cars with access to the internet will deliver data automatically all the time. In many instances, there will not be an internet connection, so again edge computing will take a win.

Hybrid cloud is another concept that will be extended into the future. Many start-ups place a greater emphasis on delivering value than on security, governance, compliance, and data privacy. But once a company becomes more mature, it generates greater profit, and can shift focus to different priorities. Some companies will decide to move some of their business from cloud to private servers for a variety of reasons. Other mature companies who have based their business on private servers, will extend business to public cloud for reasons of resilience, fault tolerance, backups, to scale a part of the business, geographical expansion, and network latency.  Both scenarios will rely on cloud extension.  Future projects will be fully built in the cloud, while keeping most important and vulnerable data on private servers. In anticipation of this shift, cloud providers are offering integration of their services into private data centres which will enable companies to leverage cloud services to the fullest, but in a private and controlled environment.  

Financial services organizations are still not adopting public cloud concepts, and for that reason it is harder for them to keep up with a fast change. In the future, there will be disruption in banking systems.  It will be beneficial for financial companies to have one simple application that will manage all transactions, book-keeping, reporting, etc. all through the internet. Equally, customers will seek efficiency and ease of usage when opening a bank account, applying for loans or completing other banking transactions without having to set foot in a physical bank. With this already occurring shift, it will be key to consider data integrity. The public cloud providers will have to put more controls and measures in place to support data regulations per region. In the future, cloud providers will put more focus into data integrity measures and checks, so that businesses can focus on their customers and protect their data.

The public cloud has changed companies’ entire business models, and, in the future, this will be even more visible. Delivery of service-based subscription models has begun, and more businesses will join this trend. Public cloud or hybrid cloud platforms are going to be the foundation for managed services. Services will be built in the cloud and offered as subscriptions. For example: Tomorrow I want to start a new project. I will utilize the web and select all the elements I need, from SCM, to automation, testing, host service, project management tool, and team chat. In a short period of time, I will get all I need to start delivering a value. This will speed up a time to market, prototyping, proof of concepts, starting a new business, etc. Cloud will be a base for this concept because of flexibility and easy way to scale.

Embracing organizational and cultural change within a company is often the biggest challenge. The adoption of the cloud usually comes with adoption of automation, fast and repetitive development, breaking silos, and the evolution of the workforce. Software developers today must master more concepts and skills than a developer 10 years ago. Today, they must be savvy in multiple programming languages, have working knowledge of at least one cloud provider, automation tools, security and networking. Non-technical resources also must evolve skills and develop a collective understanding to accommodate this shift in business and technology.  At Sulzer US, we have built our teams to support these changes for our clients and are devoted to ongoing evolution required to support businesses of the future.

About the author: Manuel Belsak is a Senior Cloud Engineer at Sulzer US.  Sulzer US is a technology company delivering innovative cloud, big data, and AI solutions to industry-leading clients. We build and run our solutions and serve as strategic partners to our clients. We achieve success by investing in our people and products with focus on innovation and solving complex business challenges.  

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