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Frank Leibiger

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Fortune tellers' delight: The 2017 Cloud trends

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Every year, fall is the season of the fortune-tellers, who predict the trends for the year ahead – cloud computing trends, for example. But if we set aside our crystal balls and instead carry out a thorough search of the relevant websites, the picture we get is not exactly uniform. Analysts, journalists, cloud strategists and technology gurus do agree on three things, however: the cloud will continue to grow; the number of public cloud users is set to increase; and all that will make cloud integration even more crucial.

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According to Forrester, the global public cloud market has passed 146 billion dollars in volume, up from just 87 billion dollars in 2015. Rene Buest of Crisp Research (German only) states that already as many as 85 percent of companies in Germany are looking into cloud computing, even though only one-quarter of them have actually already deployed cloud solutions. A prognosis by Cisco – a network specialist involved in establishing its own global cloud infrastructure – reveals just how much cloud usage is poised to increase: the company predicts that, within three years, 83 percent of all data center traffic will be via the cloud. It is only logical then that Deutsche Telekom is massively expanding its House of Clouds, as its data center in Biere/Sachsen-Anhalt is known, increasing its capacity by 150 percent.

So much for the big figures. If we drill down to corporate life as it is and look at the decisions facing those in charge of IT, we find two factors mentioned again and again in relation to the cloud: costs and the speed of digitization. These two factors are more or less forcing CIOs to shift to the cloud. For one thing, only with the high degree of standardization offered by the cloud is it possible to contain costs. For another, the cloud offers the much greater flexibility and higher speed needed to implement new innovations. With the exception of start-ups, however, all companies have hybrid, often highly complex, IT landscapes that have grown up over years and comprise proprietary operations, private clouds and the public cloud. That is why the focus is increasingly on integration. “It’s no easy task,” says Rene Buest, “After all, major companies often deploy more than 1,000 individual applications.” That is why he thinks cloud integration hubs (CIHs) will be the main trend next year. Ideally, these CIHs could incorporate not only the infrastructure, but also cross-cloud data management.

Dave Bartoletti, lead author of Forrester’s latest cloud study, refers to a survey, according to which 59 percent of the more than 1,000 North American and European companies surveyed are setting up hybrid cloud models. In Bartoletti’s view, that is precisely the right approach: “Keep your options open and don’t be afraid to use multiple providers.” It is also something Frank Strecker, T-Systems’ cloud mastermind, confirms: “The customers’ world is hybrid. That is why we offer them the multi-cloud and the corresponding integration services it requires.”  Deutsche Telekom and its corporate customers unit offer a range of different cloud technologies and solutions – from a single source, as it were. That includes a network with the necessary bandwidth flexibility – an aspect that is often overlooked when people talk about the cloud. “The question facing companies is this: what offering is suitable for what use case? And how will the different platforms I am using interact? The important thing is to implement digitization projects quickly, to select the right stacks and to pay attention to how they communicate with each other, exchange data and what standards they support,” as Strecker explained in a recent interview (German only).

Forrester is in no doubt that the American companies, in their role as “mega-cloud providers,” will secure the lion’s share of the market in 2017.  Still, Forrester also predicts that Chinese firms will be the main drivers of cloud evolution. It is noteworthy, then, that Huawei was one of the key partners in developing the Open Telekom Cloud technology – and on the basis of Open Stack. Unlike the proprietary offerings of the Big Three, this open-source software offers a truly open standard, which is immensely important in facilitating the integration and refinement of applications. Strecker discerns a strong trend toward Open Stack. “Nearly all our customers have people working on this topic. We are certain that Open Stack will establish itself as one of the biggest ecosystems alongside those of AWS or Microsoft, for instance,” he says. Crisp Research analyst Rene Buest is even more specific in one of his trend reports, stating that VW, for example, is in the process of converting its IT infrastructure to Open Stack. The reason, he says, is that open platforms make it possible to construct industry-specific clouds that unite companies, customers and business partners in an efficient network.  

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