Automated deployment of hosting services, end-to-end security, containerisation and the need for resilience in the cloud will be key themes for the coming year.
We polled our senior management team for their thoughts on what’s to come in 2017 and all of them agreed that the role of Managed Service Providers will become even more important because of the increasing complexity of the cloud services being adopted.
Here are the themes they predict will dominate the cloud agenda over the next 12 months.
The concept of automating and streamlining the buying and deployment process for hosted infrastructure will take hold. For too long, it has been a struggle to buy and provision hosting services using physical infrastructure compared to the transparent and automated nature of deploying services on the public cloud. In 2017 we will see that gap narrow with adoption of the concept of Infrastructure as Code. IT professionals will gain an efficient way to build solutions using infrastructure rather than the manual, cumbersome approach they have to use at the moment.
Security as a Service
The year ahead will see more focus than ever before on the security of our lives and our applications in the cloud. Security as a Service will be a prime focus as we move ever closer to true and full hybridisation of the design and delivery of solutions. The hosted environment now encompasses elements of hyper cloud, public cloud or third party hosted and on-premise. Only those Managed Service Providers who understand how to secure the chain from end-to-end will be successful going forward. Cloud is already here. As Gartner says, “Security is adaptive and embedded into system design”. True hybridisation is now at the door and it can’t avoid the issue of security.
Public sector organisations will continue to get rid of their legacy IT systems and move to the cloud. As they do so, they will need help. As more cloud success stories are shared publicly, a wider range of organisations within the public sector will gain confidence and realise the opportunity to reduce Total Cost of Ownership and deliver better public services amid ongoing budget restraint. The lack of internal skillset around public cloud services will see many of them turn to MSPs for the expertise they lack.
Control over the cost of cloud services and the way they are billed will be increasingly important. The OpEx model is not suitable for every organisation. There is a choice between pure pay-as-you-go and predictable consumption of public cloud services – discounts are available when using AWS EC2 reserved instances. Billing can be confusing and complex where multiple departments are using public cloud services. Simplified billing will negate the continual use of credit cards and keep the finance director happy.
Everything has the potential to be intelligent, is the overriding message from Gartner for the year to come. The development of intelligent things, such as drones and smart appliances, will lead to hyper-personalised experiences while the use of different platforms to deliver internal and external services will create new business ecosystems.
The use of AI in eCommerce will allow retailers to connect further with millennial shoppers in particular. Using natural language programming they will gain better understanding of what users are searching for and deliver more relevant results. Through all business there will be a greater appreciation of how data can be used to predict behavior, preferences and future purchases. Machine generated content will create a more personalised online experience while deep learning will deliver previously unachievable power to analyse data to achieve better business outcomes.
This will be the year of true PaaS and SaaS – enabling software developers to create the next generation of services and applications which can be moved between different cloud providers. Containerisation using the likes of Docker, Kubernetes and Windows Containers, will give the flexibility to de-couple from the underlying infrastructure, removing concerns around vendor lock-in.
Increasing hybridisation raises the issue of how to connect an increasingly mobile workforce. The challenge is to connect your people and offices securely across all the devices and networks they use. There will therefore be a rising demand for Software Defined Wide Area Network solutions as enterprises demand security, high reliability and cost savings around their connectivity.
The role of the Managed Service Provider will grow. Consumers and vendors of cloud services will continue to need partners to map out their journey and keep their services and applications online. In order to grow sustainably and generate profitable high margin and recurring revenues, resellers will need to form close relationships with MSPs to white label services and retain the end customer relationship whilst delivering best-in-market Service Level Agreements.
Managed Cloud Services
All of the above points to 2017 being a year where a heady mix of complex cloud solutions and more powerful ways of analysing data will drive increasing demand for managed services.
There is no silver bullet, most organisations will use a combination of solutions and services. The real challenge will be in having the appropriate expertise on hand to implement and manage them 24/7. This is where our managed services come in.