Forecast: Cloudy with Continued Growth

JOE BYRNE-01

By Joe Byrne, Regional CTO at AppDynamics, part of Cisco

For better or for worse, I believe the Covid-19 pandemic will have a long-lasting, in some cases, permanent, impact on businesses and the technologies they use.

The need to focus on digital transformation to adjust to our new, heavily virtualized world jumped to the top of many organizations’ priority lists. There are essentially two paths that all companies have been on: digital transformation, investing in real change for both technology and associated business strategy, or digital optimization where minimal investment has been made to adjust processes versus driving significant changes.

Those who have avoided significant investment in their digital transformation so far are quickly finding themselves behind. User experience, uptime, performance, accessibility, faster release cycles, and most importantly scale, have all become customer expectations. As a result, I believe we will see a continued focus on modernizing technology architecture but with a few new twists

Here are a few of the things I predict we will be seeing.

1. Cloud and cloud-native technologies will continue to grow fast.

In order to adjust to the new demands, many organizations accelerated their plans for digital transformation based on my conversations with technology executives across multiple industries, and this is a trend that only seems to gain steam as we continue to push forward.

Worldwide end-user spending on public cloud services is forecast to grow 18.4% in 2021 to total $304.9 billion, up from $257.5 billion in 2020, according to Gartner, Inc.

I believe this hastened push to digitize and modernize will be the norm through the coming months. As a result, the hybrid cloud environment is going to be the dominant architecture as we advance.

While many new companies started in the cloud, many have only just started their migration and do not yet wish to fully commit to the public cloud. Hybrid cloud allows organizations to take advantage of the many benefits offered by the public cloud providers while maintaining a sense of security and control for sensitive data by keeping it on-prem.

2. The “as a service” model thrives for tech-first companies.

Even though hybrid cloud will be the dominant architecture, the move to cloud and the utilization of platform as a service (PaaS) and other “as a service” offerings will continue to grow at a record pace. The ability to have cloud providers manage things like underlying storage and compute are considerable benefits to many organizations that chose not to take on those tasks as core competencies.

With so many technology teams being asked to do more with less, the ability to have things like hardware failures, updates, capacity, and other critical items managed by someone else is enticing.

3. Cloud-first companies continue to disrupt with cloud-native.

While the benefits of PaaS are significant as technology continues to progress, cloud-native technologies are going to be adopted at an even greater pace. Cloud-first organizations will adopt these new features and functions without legacy technical debt and archaic processes.

Specifically, I am talking about technologies focused on increasing the velocity of releases, automating scale and observability, and improving the ability to troubleshoot issues in the cloud proactively. With a newfound focus on the application, technologies such as Kubernetes and Prometheus will continue to grow in popularity.

According to data gathered and published by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, the use of cloud-native projects in production continues to grow, with many projects reaching more than 50% use in production. Two excellent examples are Kubernetes (78%) and Prometheus (72%). Companies will continue to look for technologies like these with simple and open APIs that easily fit within a cloud-based architecture.

4. Technology like never before.

With the increased importance of the application thanks to Covid-19, software providers have created tools that make it possible to tie things like conversion and revenue to application performance directly. This allows organizations to prioritize the customer experience or business journey better, ensuring that they sign up, buy, sell, or whatever the goal is optimal.

Budgets will be focused on features and functionality that can clearly show a positive impact on critical business metrics. Also, cloud-based technologies will enable businesses to pivot quickly and be more nimble than ever, giving product owners the ability to shift with the ever-changing trends and customer expectations.

5. Technology teams continue to evolve.

The world of development and operations as separate teams with specific skill sets is diminishing. There are fewer Ops and much more DevOps, DevSecOps, etc. The various agile influenced team structures will continue to transform as the lines continue to blur with infrastructure as code, automated observability, and machine learning becoming more prominent. People need to up skill when the industry looks for generalists who have broad expertise and are fluent in cloud tech.

The changes that came in 2020 may have been the result of some miserable circumstances, but I believe some positives will continue to push technology and business forward. The accelerated move to the cloud, the focus on the application as the business, and full-stack observability growth are all very beneficial to the end-user and employees alike. The new business model of remote work has been significantly aided by moving to the cloud and the migration out of the data center.

I’m looking forward to seeing what new cloud-based technologies take root this year and how organizations utilize them to enhance their businesses.

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Joe Byrne is a Regional CTO at AppDynamics, a part of Cisco. His primary focus is on working with customers and prospects on APM strategy and helping with digital transformations. He also works closely with Sales, Marketing, Product, and Engineering on product strategy. Prior to AppDynamics, Joe held technology leadership roles at Albertsons, Ellie Mae, and Johnson and Johnson. With AppDynamics, enterprises have access to a full-stack, business-centric observability platform that helps them prevent digital performance issues.