Rackspace CTO: five predictions for the cloud in 2019

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While we’ve moved long past cloud being the hot industry buzzword, in the last 12 months we’ve seen a significant maturity curve among many of our European customers. In fact, research that we commissioned from Forrester this year found that cloud advancements are driving most businesses’ digital strategy, with 81 per cent of business leaders citing how the migration of existing workloads into private or private cloud environments is a high priority or critical business initiative.

The cloud industry is evolving just as rapidly to meet the change in customer demands: from advancements in the technologies itself, to a greater reliance on cloud service partners and the whole services consumption model being turned on its head.

What will this mean for the industry in 2019? Here are my five key predictions for what to expect in the coming year.

Blocks of services become the new cloud consumption model

The way that businesses consume cloud services will change rapidly in 2019, reflecting the wider shift towards a subscription economy. Just as many parents will be opting for data bolt-ons to their mobile contracts this Christmas, to help keep kids entertained during long car journeys over the holiday season, so organisations have begun bolting-on new cloud services to respond to short-term, specific needs.

This subscription model (Rackspace call it Service Blocks) will go beyond merely enabling users to scale up or down cloud platforms. Cloud service providers are changing their service offering to help them become more agile in responding to customers’ needs, whether that’s providing a “Cost Governance as a Service” or “Solution Architect as-a-Service” to build complex cloud architectures.  Those that ensure the barrier is low to consume these new services will see the greatest success.  Six week waits for statements of work are now dead as customers crave flexibility, scale up/scale down and customisable offerings, whether that’s in their operations, resource requirements or service engagements.

Cloud service providers “as a service”

The persona shift for the cloud usage within has changed. We regularly see no less than 18 different stakeholders being part of cloud service requests. While many organisations are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their use of cloud services, delivering cloud services to these 18 personas take time and effort with the risk of Cloud Services proliferating across the organisation without knowledge and control. Therefore, we see the move in 2019 from Cloud Management to Cloud Governance taking centre stage, especially in a multi-cloud world.

Internal organisations responsible for delivering cloud services will focus more on the activities of defining, monitoring, and auditing the policies, processes and products offerings that deliver cloud services to their end users.  Abiding by cloud service provider standards such as ISO27017 and ISO27018 inside organisations will not just deliver confidence internally but enable the organisations to have the required framework to leverage new products offerings from multi-cloud providers with a greater degree of confidence and assurance.

Cloud Management has attempted to keep the end user’s happy, Cloud Governance in 2019 will make your CIO, CFO and CSO smile even more.

Composing the containers is getting easier

I will call it and say that Kubernetes has officially won the battle for containers orchestration. But this battle has left us with some interesting observations.  While companies are fully embracing the benefits of containers and micro service architecture, and we are seeing job posting for Kubernetes talent has rise by over 230%, usage of Kubernetes is still very much within software development focussed organisations. 

With AWS, Azure, Google and VMware launched or launching their own Kubernetes services, it will be interesting to see whether lock in Kubernetes starts to surface as take up grows or whether the multi cloud brokerage can prevail.  We have all dreamt of moving containers between clouds like a utility, I still dream of moving virtual machines between providers…Maybe one step at a time and let’s look forward Kubernetes making further inroads in 2019.

AIOps maturity curve

AIOps will continue to gain traction next year, with its proven results of leading more operations teams to use analytics at scale. This will result in a significant maturity curve, with both existing players and new entrants disrupting the market. The drive to introduce intelligent operations as standard into the operations functions will largely be stimulated by the need for analytics – in particular, predictive analytics – to manage increasingly complex, multi-cloud estates.

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The number and range of different cloud services that organisations are using is increasing rapidly. Just think about all the data gathering silently involved in our Christmas shopping. Firstly, data is gathered from our behaviour as we walk through the store, use the app, search online for vouchers or price comparisons, while concurrently monitoring stock levels and registering sales when we get to the tills. All this data feeds into a central point to help the store decide what stock replenishment is needed in real time, so there’s no chance of scuffles breaking out over the last bag of Yorkshire puddings – or they can at least notify security in advance!

Data can inform decisions across every function in every business, with different processes requiring different cloud platforms and services bespoke to those particular demands. Multi-cloud Edge management will rise in 2019 as it becomes a critical asset of the business as they integrate and manage the multi-endpoints that generate this data, as well as processing it and turning it into actionable insights. 

Lee James, EMEA CTO at Rackspace 

Lee James

Lee James is the Chief Technology Officer, EMEA, at Rackspace. He is an experienced CTO, IT Director and innovator with significant experience across large scale multinationals and start-ups, delivering industry leading cloud native, data, AI/ML and org model transformations. His experience has been gained across a number of different industry sectors including managed services, financial trading, e-gaming, publishing, media, IT services, oil and gas, retail, banking, commodities, pharmaceutical, accounting and equities.