Infinitely Virtual 2020 Predictions: Three Trends in a Nutshell

By Adam Stern | | Dec 2, 2019

Industry executives and experts share their predictions for 2020.  Read them in this 12th annual series exclusive.

For the first time in recent memory, the cloud isn’t on the defensive.  It’s now a respectable neighborhood, even if we acknowledge that significant challenges/growth opportunities remain and that it’s still not Mr. Rogers-friendly.  As befits a maturing and increasingly sophisticated environment, the cloud in 2020 will expose both its strengths and vulnerabilities.  Here’s what I’m referring to:

#1 – The cloud will increasingly be recognized as a refuge, as security concerns across the Internet intensify.

In 2020users will become far more proactive in both ensuring and managing cloud security than they have in the past – an emerging trend that applies to providers large and small alike.  IaaS offerings will become more effective at countering emerging threats as those threats proliferate and mutate.  To the extent that users feel ill-served by cloud vendors, cloud computing itself could be at risk – a testament to the fact that not all vendors are equally focused on the prize (that is, effective security policies and procedures) – to wit, in its vanilla incarnation, Azure is only moderately more secure than an on-premises environment.  Expect vendors who argue for DIY security – effectively passing the buck to users, rather than partnering with users – to suffer.  Increasingly, organizations will embrace providers who bask in security.  Bad actors have ever-bigger tool sets and are relentlessly upping their game.  In the year ahead, those organizations that put aside (often political) turf wars around on-premises vs. off-premises computing and focus instead on strategies, policies and practices that ensure application and data safety/security are most likely to prevail. 

#2 – The cloud backlash is real – but it’s reversible.  

Anecdotal evidence suggests that a growing number of users who gravitated to Microsoft Azure, Amazon AWS or other “one-stop” commodity providers are on the verge of turning negative on the cloud.  They’re looking for vendors to do what they originally sought from cloud computing: that is, save them on everything from engineering to equipment to support by delivering a truly turnkey offering.  This disaffection is tied less to cloud computing as a concept or a platform than to issues around execution; today’s commodity cloud simply doesn’t have everything baked-in, as the early adopters experienced.  Put another way, we’ll be hearing more and more stories about users who are not unhappy with the cloud per se but with the new “big-box” cloud.  Thankfully, this backlash carries its own antidote: a “buyer beware” attitude toward commodity players, which may well play out during 2020. 

#3 – Look for cloud companies to morph into Managed IT providers — and Managed IT companies to return the favor, by embracing the cloud. 

During 2020, some of the definitions and conventions that have long divided elements within cloud computing will begin to melt away.  As we’ll see in the coming year, both sides in the industry will become more like the other.  Where users once stressed about the hybrid cloud (“What is it?  Is it for me?  Who will decipher it for my organization?”) or some other permutation of IaaS, the market will continue to evolve in the user’s direction, thanks largely to the managed services option.  When an organization can deploy Azure or AWS but entrust day-to-day management to a more responsive (local) provider, everyone wins.  Azure and AWS may not be suited to the less technically inclined, but those concerns cease to be decisive when other cloud providers can run interference for you.

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