Why 2018 Is The Year of the Personal Cloud

I recently asked my Amazon Echo’s Alexa what the future of cloud computing is. Alexa paused, with her blue lights blinking, and then said “sorry, I don’t know that one.” She could, however, give me a thorough definition of cloud computing and confidently point out that the word “future” can have different meanings, which she then diligently recited until I stopped her.

It’s not the first time that Alexa and I have different opinions about how we see the world. Or, the first time that I stumped her. But overall, I have become very fond of Alexa. Voice-enabled personal assistants like Alexa, Siri, Google Assistant, and Cortana show the power of the enterprise cloud and the cloud’s ability to deliver new services, like artificial intelligence (AI), to our home and work place.

Now, in the beginning of its second decade, cloud computing has outgrown its “punk image” as a disruptor. Defined by the industry research and advisory firm Gartner as “a style of computing in which scalable and elastic IT-enabled capabilities are delivered as a service using Internet technologies,”[1] cloud computing has reached a high level of maturity on many fronts.

Most companies have adapted a cloud-first approach as the foundation of their IT strategy. The cloud has become the ubiquitous driving force for companies’ digital transformation and a catalyst for product innovation. Services delivered via the cloud today range from analytics to the Internet of Things (IoT) to AI, creating new frontiers for innovation.

The cloud continues to evolve in 2018. This year, companies will have higher expectations for the business outcomes from a more intelligent and optimized cloud. We will see advancements in better interoperability in a multi-cloud environment, more advanced container-based development platforms, and the emergence of industry-specific clouds.

Data from IoT devices can be analyzed at the edge of the network with edge computing, or as IDC defined it, from a “mesh network of micro data centers that process or store critical data locally and push all received data to a central data center or cloud storage repository, in a footprint of less than 100 square feet.” [2]

In my conversations with chief information officers (CIOs), I hear about two recurring needs: better convenience and security. That’s why I think that in 2018 we will see the rise of the personalized cloud.

Let’s look at the cloud infrastructure requirements in more detail.

Companies want the benefits and strength of an intelligent cloud along with control over their own data. They also want flexibility; the flexibility to house their data in the type of data center of their choice, in their preferred geography, and the ability to consolidate their data on specific public cloud “hyperscalers” like AWS, Microsoft Azure, or Google Platform. This will be irrespective of which application they are operating.

On top of it, acquisitions put enterprises under pressure to consolidate data from multiple companies into their data centers. Integrating different business units requires multiple technology stacks to run in the same data center. As a result, companies are investing heavily into their data centers to keep up with the ever-changing requirements. They need their own, personalized solution.

According to Forrester, the managed cloud can provide the speed to market and scalability of a public cloud, yet with enhanced security through its various deployment options. The analyst firm also predicts that “exciting new private cloud technology stacks and fresh partnerships between infrastructure vendor stalwarts and upstart cloud-native companies bring the power and energy of elastic, on-demand cloud services to the enterprise data center.”[3]

Let’s go back to my conversation with Alexa for a moment. Out of the millions of Siri, Google Assistant, and Cortana users worldwide, I may have been one of very few to ask that question. We all use technology for different purposes, and have different expectations.

This is the same in the enterprise. With the new maturity level of cloud computing, companies now have highly personalized demands on what to expect from their cloud to stay competitive.

In 2018, we will talk more about the managed personalized cloud as a secure passage for a company’s digital transformation.

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[1] Gartner, IT Glossary, Cloud Computing, https://www.gartner.com/it-glossary/cloud-computing

[2] Brandon Butler, What is edge computing and how it’s changing the network, In: Network World, Sept. 21, 2017, https://www.networkworld.com/article/3224893/internet-of-things/what-is-edge-computing-and-how-it-s-changing-the-network.html

[3] Forrester, Predictions 2018: Cloud Computing Accelerates Enterprise Transformation Everywhere, November 7, 2017, http://bit.ly/2Ekmdlk