Cloud Computing Enters its Second Decade

As cloud computing evolves, it should move beyond experimentation and part of an enterprise-wide cloud strategy.

By: David Mitchell Smith, vice president and Gartner Fellow

Cloud computing was originally a place to experiment, and has come a long way as a critical part of today’s IT. After 10 years, companies should look for even wider scale investments.

In its first decade, cloud computing was disruptive to IT, but looking into the second decade, it is becoming mature and an expected part of most next-generation disruptions (such as AI, Digital Business). For the past 10 years, cloud computing changed the expectations and capabilities of the IT department, but now it is a necessary catalyst for innovation across the company.

As the technology matures, objections to cloud computing are lessening, although myths and confusing technology terms continue to plague the space.

As it enters its second decade, cloud computing is increasingly becoming a vehicle for next-generation digital business, as well as for agile, scalable and elastic solutions. CIOs and other IT leaders need to constantly adapt their strategies to leverage cloud capabilities.

It’s not too late to begin planning a roadmap to an all-in cloud future. A few predictions about what that future will look like.

By 2020, anything other than a cloud-only strategy for new IT initiatives will require justification at more than 30% of large-enterprise organizations.

During the past decade, cloud computing has matured on several fronts. Today, most security analysis suggests that mainstream cloud computing is more secure than on-premises IT. Cloud services are more often functionally complete, and vendors now offer migration options.

Importantly, innovation is rapidly shifting to the cloud, with many vendors employing a cloud-first approach (and some beginning cloud-only approaches) to product design and some technology and business innovations available only as cloud services. This includes innovations in the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence.

As the pressure to move to cloud services increases, more organizations are creating roadmaps that reflect the need to shift strategy. At these organizations, projects that propose on-site resources are considered conservative, as the reduced agility and innovation options decrease competitive agility. Enterprises will begin to pressure IT departments to embrace cloud computing.

Keep in mind that not all projects can utilize cloud services due to regulatory or security concerns.. Also, some enterprises might lack the correct skill sets and talent.

By 2021, more than half of global enterprises already using cloud today will adopt an all-in cloud strategy.
The key to an all-in cloud strategy is not to “lift and shift” data center content. Instead, enterprises should evaluate what applications within the data center can be replaced with SaaS, refactored or rebuilt. However, an all-in strategy will have more impact on IT compared to a cloud-first strategy.

By and large, companies that have shifted to all-cloud have not returned to traditional on-premises data centers, with even large companies embracing third-party cloud infrastructure.

Enterprises should begin to plan a roadmap for their cloud strategy, and ensure that lift and shift is only being done when necessary, such as part of data center consolidation efforts.

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