During this past year of the pandemic, IT teams have had to reimagine the corporate network. Remote workforces could no longer use their office networks to connect with enterprise applications. Overnight, cloud computing became essential for getting employees back online. Many IT departments relied on cloud vendors and managed services providers for support with cloud strategies.
The pandemic spurred a number of new IT trends and sped up the adoption of others. Many of these trends will be with us in the post-pandemic future. TierPoint identified three major cloud trends that took hold in 2020 and will continue to grow over the next two to three years.
Cloud trend #1: Increased cloud usage in healthcare
For several years now, the healthcare industry has gradually adopted digital technologies such as electronic healthcare records, online prescriptions, and telehealth appointments. But the COVID-19 pandemic increased the demand for these healthcare technologies.
Patients were wary of in-person appointments. Physicians treating COVID-19 victims needed to share information with colleagues at other healthcare providers. According to a June 2020 survey by McKinsey, healthcare providers at that time were conducting 50 to 175 times their usual number of telehealth appointments. For many patients and doctors, it was their first foray into video conferencing; by mid-2020, three in four patients used telehealth technologies, compared to 11% in 2019.
Cloud computing is now helping physicians and specialists to securely share patient data and collaborate on treatment plans. The adoption of cloud services (public and private cloud) is also helping hospitals and insurers reduce administrative and IT costs. This digital revolution in healthcare will continue, and McKinsey predicts that as much as $250 billion of current U.S. healthcare spending could be virtualized.
Cloud trend #2: Serverless computing
One of the newer trends in cloud computing is serverless computing, sometimes called Function as a Service (FaaS). Serverless computing is a cloud-native model of application deployment aimed at making app development and deployment faster and cheaper.
According to Forrester’s Predictions 2021: Cloud Computing, the adoption of serverless computing is part of a general spike in the usage of cloud-native technologies, such as containers. A Forrester predicts that an estimated 25% of developers will be using serverless on a regular basis by the end of 2021.
Unlike Infrastructure as a Service, serverless computing is an event-driven execution model for delivering backend computing services to applications as needed, when triggered by user input or some other event. Applications can use pre-written services for functions like processing file uploads, connecting to data sources, running a batch process, or tracking changes to a database.
Developers can quickly create applications by writing just the front-end logic for a cloud application and making use of the provider’s prewritten backend services. The serverless provider dynamically manages server allocation and provisioning for the customer.
Serverless computing is already in wide usage, with at least a dozen vendors providing serverless services. Some of the big names in serverless computing include:
- Amazon’s AWS Lambda
- Microsoft’s Azure Functions
- Google Cloud Functions
- IBM Cloud Functions (based on Apache Open Whisk)
Key advantages of serverless computing include greater flexibility and scalability in application development and can reduce application deployment time to a fraction of the weeks or months required for traditional deployments. In addition, customers pay only for the computing services used, not by the server or number of users. That saves them from paying for the cost of unused CPU power or idle servers. And, of course, they avoid the investment and maintenance costs of running their own data center.
Cloud trend #3: Cloud Disaster Recovery
2020 was a wake-up call to IT managers to consider disaster recovery (DR) and business continuity planning. First, there was the pandemic. IT faced the challenge of connecting and provisioning remote employees with access to enterprise systems – a major problem for organizations with traditional, non-cloud IT systems.
Then came the sudden spike in cybercrime, especially ransomware attacks, which targeted home-based employees with inadequate security as well as city and state governments, healthcare organizations, and many small businesses.
Natural disasters also wreaked havoc in 2020. Wildfires, typhoons, earthquakes, derecho winds, tornados, and floods devastated many areas of the world. Before the end of August 2020, the U.S. had 22 billion-dollar natural disasters, a new annual record.
All these events motivated IT organizations to invest in better disaster recovery to ensure they could survive a cyberattack or other disaster. An increasingly popular option is cloud Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS), a cloud-based Disaster Recovery solution that is hosted and managed by third-party providers. DRaaS providers typically offer multiple DR options, including advanced DR services such as automated failover and recovery, continuous data replication to the cloud, and access to specialists in cloud DR, cloud security, and cloud development.
DRaaS can include access to both management services and technical expertise. Few companies these days can afford to have DR experts on staff. DRaaS enables IT organizations to have a more effective, and affordable, DR solution.
In addition to cost savings, DRaaS can be accessed from any location, making it a great answer for companies with remote IT staff and businesses in high-risk locations (due to natural disasters).
As the cloud becomes the de-facto platform of choice for businesses, new cloud services and computing models will continue to emerge to support business problems. Cloud solutions save companies on infrastructure costs, while managed services providers are stepping forward to fill the skills gaps in small and mid-sized IT organizations.
Get ahead of the cloud trends with a trusted partner
Cloud trends are a great way to start a conversation about cloud adoption. Is your organization:
- Deploying a multicloud environment or working towards a hybrid cloud strategy?
- Determining the best cloud platform for a certain workload or application?
- Looking for a resilient solution to protect vital business applications and customer data?
A managed cloud services provider can help you find the best strategy and solutions for your business. At TierPoint, we offer comprehensive cloud, disaster recovery, and cybersecurity solutions to help organizations effectively manage their cloud infrastructure.
Download the complimentary Forrester report on Cloud Predictions for 2021 to learn more about some of the big cloud trends coming in the next few years.