Cloud computing has moved past its "self-centered teenage years" to become a "turbocharged engine powering digital transformation around the world," states a new Forrester report, "Predictions 2019: Cloud Computing." The research firm predicts that in 2019 the cloud will reach "its more interesting young adult years, bringing innovative development services to enterprise apps rather than just serving up cheaper, temporary servers and storage."
The big get bigger
The report forecasts that the largest public cloud providers will grow even larger in 2019, while enterprise spending will surge. The six largest hyperscale cloud leaders — Alibaba, Amazon Web Services [AWS], Google, IBM, Microsoft Azure, and Oracle — will all grow larger in 2019, the report predicted, as service catalogs and global regions expand. Meanwhile, the global cloud computing market, including cloud platforms, business services and SaaS, will exceed $200 billion in 2019, expanding at more than 20%, the report projects.
Beyond Alibaba emerging from China to create headwinds for the three hyperscale leaders, Forrester expects little serious competition emerging to challenge the cloud market leaders. "There are no new cloud platform providers on the horizon that have enough money to seriously challenge the six largest global public clouds: AWS, Azure, Google, Alibaba, IBM and Oracle," said Dave Bartoletti, a Forrester vice president and principal analyst.
Containers, Kubernetes (K8s) and serverless to reshape core apps
Forrester expects the container juggernaut to continue rolling forward in 2019. Firms such as eBay, ING, Liberty Mutual, Nordstrom and Viasat all use cloud-native platforms built around Docker and K8s (and soon Envoy and Istio) to breathe new life into legacy apps.
"Powered by cloud-native open source components and tools, companies will start rolling out their own digital application platforms that will span clouds, include serverless and event-driven services and form the foundation for modernizing core business apps for the next decade," the report observed. Next year's hottest trend, according to the market research firm, will be making K8s easier to deploy, secure, monitor, scale, and upgrade. "Enterprise-ready container platforms from Docker, IBM, Mesosphere, Pivotal, Rancher, Red Hat, VMware, and others are poised to grow rapidly," the report stated.
Three emerging private cloud approaches
According to Forrester, each organization must select for itself which private cloud strategy is most appropriate. The report anticipates greater private cloud structure emerging in 2019. It noted that organizations face three basic private cloud paths: building internally, using vSphere sprinkled with developer-focused tools and software-defined infrastructure; having its cloud environment custom-built with converged or hyperconverged software stacks to minimize the tech burden; or building its cloud infrastructure internally with OpenStack, relying on the hard work of its own tech-savvy team.
More organizations will set their PaaS strategy
Forrester expects that each organization will decide on its own whether to leverage platform-as-a-service (PaaS) unique to a specific cloud provider or focus instead on cloud neutrality. "Some will continue to seek abstraction from any one cloud while patiently waiting for vendor-neutral, value-add services to mature and become easier to operate anywhere, such as Istio, K8s and TensorFlow," the report stated.
Emerging SaaS-based industry ecosystems
SaaS vendors doubled down on integration in 2018, a trend highlighted by Salesforce’s purchase of MuleSoft and Workday’s decision to unlock and enhance its platform. In 2019, Forrester expects that two SaaS trends — industry and integration — will converge and seed SaaS-based industry ecosystems. "We expect that 2019 will see nascent but important investments in forming true industry ecosystems that connect multiple organizations in real time and foster intercompany collaboration and analytics," the report predicts.
The big hype
Looking forward into the new year, Bartoletti singled out blockchain as the most overhyped trend. "There is terrific technology underpinning distributed ledgers, but I believe that most companies have better options for transforming their apps and technology today with one of the other interesting cloud services that are more mature, like IoT or database or machine learning or container platforms," he said. "I think that’s time better spent than trying to find a use for blockchain right now."
While some financial analysts believe that the current red-hot US economy could slow down in 2019, Bartoletti isn't particularly concerned. "I believe [a slowdown] would have little effect except maybe to encourage one-year commitments over longer ones," he advised. "I would expect a slowing US economy would have a much stronger effect on data center tech hardware and on-premises software purchases, which are already under pressure from [the] cloud."
Enterprises preparing for 2019 should run a software portfolio analysis as soon as possible, Bartoletti said. "The most important cloud strategy question to ask is: how do we expect or need this app to get better?" he noted. "Whether it's more efficient operations, lowering run costs, deriving new insights using some machine learning, distributing it to more customers, scaling it more easily, moving it to a new database platform, etcetera, you need to know what you expect to get better before picking any particular cloud platform, emerging cloud tech service or development platform."
Bartoletti offered one final word of advice: "Don't pick a cloud before you pick a strategy."