The cloud has a rich history of continual improvements, and 2019 will usher in some fairly significant ones that enhance capabilities, simplify operations and reduce costs.
With these new improvements, built atop an already-solid foundation, the cloud may well achieve that long-anticipated tipping point where it becomes the preferred platform for a majority of enterprise applications for a majority of organizations.
1. New technologies will make the cloud substantially more suitable for critical applications
Not surprisingly, organizations will expand the use of cloud services in 2019 for both existing and new applications, further accelerating the migration of workloads from the datacenter to the cloud. With IT staff now becoming more comfortable in the cloud, their concerns about high availability (HA) and disaster recovery (DR) will also begin to ease. This change is significant because the workload migration will increasingly include mission-critical applications.
Companies have long relied on purpose-built HA failover clustering technology in their data centers to protect their most critical enterprise applications. These third-party failover clustering solutions will further evolve to adapt and optimize operations for the cloud, making the cloud more suitable for critical enterprise applications.
At the same time, cloud service providers will continue to advance their basic availability capabilities to meet the needs of a broad range of applications, many of which have lesser demands than for full HA, but still need basic DR assurances. With the evolution of both third-party clustering and nascent cloud availability capabilities, along with ready access to cloud DR capabilities, migrations from on-premises to cloud will accelerate.
2. Dynamic utilization will make HA and DR more cost-effective for more applications, further driving migration to the cloud
Economies of scale and on-demand provisioning in the cloud are nothing new. What will be new in the cloud is the ability to dynamically configure its virtually unlimited resources spread among multiple availability zones and geographical regions. And this on-demand high-availability will make the cloud an even more cost-effective platform for critical applications.
High availability requires redundancy, with standby resources that are provisioned and ready to run, to enable rapid recovery under all possible failure scenarios. These standby resources all sit idle unless and until called into service during a failover from the primary. The increasing sophistication of fluid cloud resources across zones and regions connected via high-quality internetworking now enables standby resources to be allocated only when needed, making HA and DR far more affordable.
3. The cloud will become a preferred platform for SAP deployments
SAP is the undisputed leader in supply chain management, making its SAP and SAP S/4HANA-based applications the lifeblood of organizations around the world. Given its mission-critical nature, IT departments have historically chosen to implement SAP in enterprise data centers, where the staff enjoys full control over the environment.
As the platforms offered by cloud service providers continue to mature, their ability to host SAP applications will become commercially viable and, therefore, strategically important. For CSPs, SAP hosting will be a way to secure long-term engagements with enterprise customers.
For the enterprise, “SAP-as-a-Service” will be a way to take full advantage of the enormous economies of scale in the cloud, while also enabling IT to focus on service delivery rather than infrastructure management – all without sacrificing performance or availability.
4. Cloud “Quick-start” templates will become the standard for complex software and service deployments
The statement “some assembly required” has always been the case when implementing new applications or provisioning new services, whether in a private, public, or hybrid cloud environment. Beginning in 2019, cloud service providers will simplify provisioning with more widespread adoption of quick-start templates. These templates are wizard-based interfaces that employ automated scripts to dynamically provision, configure and orchestrate the resources and services needed to run specific applications.
Among their key benefits are reduced training requirements, improved speed and accuracy, and the ability to minimize or even eliminate human error as a major source of problems for DevOps. Their use will substantially decrease the time and effort it takes for IT staff to set up, test and deploy dependable HA and DR configurations. The resulting turnkey deployments can be expected to become a new best practice for even the most critical of applications.
5. Advanced analytics and artificial intelligence will be everywhere and in everything, including infrastructure operations
Analytics and AI will continue becoming more highly focused and purpose-built for specific problems, and these capabilities will increasingly be embedded in cloud platforms and management tools.
AI-driven infrastructure tools, for example, are now being used to analyze input from a myriad of monitoring and management tools. Many of these AI tools have endeavored to solve broad problems across the IT spectrum. In 2019 these will begin to evolve to become substantially more focused on the most critical problems – both the routine and complex – encountered by IT staff. This much-anticipated capability will simplify IT operations, improve infrastructure and application robustness, and lower overall costs.
Along with this trend, AI and analytics will naturally become embedded in HA and DR solutions, as well as CSP offerings, to enhance the robustness of their operations. With the ability to quickly, automatically and accurately understand issues and diagnose problems across complex configurations, the reliability, and thus the availability, of critical application services delivered from the cloud will vastly improve.