Predictions 2022: Enterprises expect more as cloud markets mature

Cloud has taken the spotlight over the past two years, helping enterprises scale up digital business and accelerate innovative new services to preserve revenues despite extraordinary circumstances. Without cloud apps, tools, and services, we couldn’t have sent millions of workers home, maintained global supply chains, or shifted entire industry business models in a matter of weeks.

As we pivot out of disaster, companies are re-evaluating their compilation of technologies and services. During this revamp, enterprises will strongly consider strategy redesign, depth of partnerships, vendor risk concentration, and incorporation of newly available features.

We predict that:

Container adoption will hit 50% as cloud-native takes center stage in enterprise cloud.

As firms experience new levels of cloud scale in light of pandemic-fueled digital acceleration, scale will mandate reform. Cloud-native adoption rose in 2021. The percentage of developers saying that their organization used containers rose from 33% in 2020 to 42% in 2021; reported usage of serverless rose from 26% in 2020 to 32% in 2021. In 2022, cloud-native adoption will rise to half of enterprise organizations.

More importantly, enterprises will refactor or replatform their cloud strategies to base them on cloud-native rather than layering it onto their existing plans. Cloud-native technologies will transcend all major tech domains, such as big data (distributed database, data lake, and Spark), AI (Kubeflow for ModelOps, Ray on K8s for distributed machine learning [ML], or reinforcement learning), and the Internet of Things (EdgeX 2.0 refactoring toward microservices). Rather than cloud-native serving as a supplementary or nice-to-have side for your cloud strategy, it will become the core of cloud strategy in 2022 and beyond.

Google Cloud Platform (GCP) won’t achieve its short-term ambition, but it won’t matter.

GCP reportedly wants to either be a top-two player in public cloud by 2023 or withdraw from it. Despite significant reported growth in 2020 and early 2021, its market footprint is still considerably behind Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Azure; the gap is too big to close by 2023. Looking ahead to 2022, GCP could go big by acquiring a major software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform, but that path would be riddled with obstacles (e.g., few candidates of that scale, new business models, diminished partner play, and slow re-platforming).

Continuing to woo major SaaS platforms to the GCP cloud seems the more likely path, but not one that would overcome the revenue gap. Ultimately, GCP won’t win this battle — but that won’t matter for its long-term success. Its efforts have yielded advantages in container orchestration, open source contributions, and AI/ML, all as GCP has made major strides in enterprise support and vertical solutions. Top two or not, GCP will find cloud highly profitable and of value to its other investments.

Every hyperscaler will amplify its industry story, igniting a new war in the cloud world.

The battle of general-purpose cloud is over and has yielded several victors; the next field of play is contextualization through industry clouds. All major cloud service providers (CSPs) have provided limited vertical case studies, best practices, and in some cases, capabilities, through add-on solutions in the public cloud.

The result is a marketing veneer paired with regulatory-compliant services. IBM launched IBM Cloud for Telecommunications in October 2020 and IBM Cloud for Financial Services in March 2021. In 2022, Forrester expects to see an explosion of these services by every major CSP, with increasing availability of app and developer services that create meaningful new capabilities like Amazon’s Connected Mobility and GameLift services. Expect major SaaS platforms to similarly continue to build out industry options that go far beyond marketing veneer to save significant hours of customizations.

Every major hyperscaler will make a plan for geopolitical frictions and anti-trust reform.

Geopolitical frictions and antitrust reform are already impacting the cloud market in 2021. In China, the government has pushed all state-owned enterprises to migrate to state-owned clouds and away from market leaders Alibaba and Tencent.

In India, Mastercard was banned from distributing new credit cards due to failure to comply with data residency regulations. Rather than standing by, hyperscalers are taking action. AWS has reset its localization strategy in China, and Microsoft is segmenting data for European cloud customers while also establishing a new leadership team in China. But, will these efforts be enough to maintain current geographic footprints?

In 2022, major cloud providers will continue to make major adjustments to satisfy their global customer needs and new regulations. At the same time, US companies will consider adding regional players to the mix, European companies will react to the first GAIA-X policies, and state-owned enterprises will dictate the future of the cloud marketplace in China.

Major cloud-native platforms will help devs achieve painless global scale for workloads.

Although cloud and dev platforms are well known for their scaling ease, this only works when the app has been designed to handle such scaling. Today, developers building cloud-native applications might get autoscaling of clusters and automated deployments, but they still need to think about where in the world they will provision workloads and how much infrastructure they need to go global.

In 2022, a confluence of edge compute with minimal cold starts, distributed data services, and a new generation of developer frameworks and platform as a service will help developers quickly build and deploy ephemeral, low-cost, performant, planet-scale workloads. But as compute, state, and storage shifts to the edge of the network, it will become harder for architects to pursue a single-minded “containerize all the things” strategy for cloud-native workloads. As a result, expect to see developer interest grow in lightweight isolation models (e.g., V8 Isolates and Web Assembly), JAMstack-style web workloads, and a new set of web frameworks.

The pandemic has driven up enterprise cloud usage as companies look to scale up digital presence and create new products. With this new scale, organizations are seeking cloud efficiencies, scalable solutions, and unique customization. In 2022, they’ll reposition cloud-native at the center of their cloud strategies, not as an adjacency. New capabilities will enter the market in the form of industry clouds and easier global scaling. Geopolitical tensions will inspire action from major hyperscalers to protect their international interests. Finally, Google won’t achieve its goal of becoming a top-two cloud provider by 2023.

Source: Forrester Research, USA.

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