Many developers and startups view cloud services as just ‘compute’, ‘storage’ and ‘network’. The cloud has matured to the extent that customers often don’t think about basic infrastructure or service levels or discuss the advantages of on-premises versus the cloud &; Instead, they are increasingly becoming first on the cloud. In fact, December of 2021 was marked by Amazon Web Services (AWS) marking the 10th AWS re: Invent conference, the company’s annual conference for customers and partners.
While many startups don’t think twice about focusing their IT strategy around cloud and SaaS offerings, the organization has been slower to adopt cloud computing at scale. The conversation between these companies revolves around security, compliance, service level agreements, and losing control of their technology suite. In many ways, not much has changed about the questions organizations are asking about the cloud.
As the year began, I was reflecting on the many conversations I had with a diverse group of IT and business leaders, digital executives and vendors. Here are three trends I’ll be tracking this year.
Alternative sellers are gaining momentum
The big “Big Three” companies continue to dominate the market and gain the bulk of the attention of customers and partners. However, we are seeing a growing interest in the alternative cloud market. The alternative market includes vendors outside of the big names (AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, Oracle, IBM, and Salesforce). Developers and companies are increasingly looking for alternative sellers and their offerings because they are easier to use than the superstars, are less expensive, and offer more predictable pricing models. Additionally, in a tight job market, hiring developers with an AWS certification for example can be very costly. On the other hand, since alternative clouds are less complex, developers do not need to have the same certifications.
You might ask: What about global scalability, quantum computing and/or the thousands of APIs provided by hypermeters? The truth is that most small and medium-sized businesses do not actually need any of these capabilities and do not want to help support the research and development that these technologies require. Companies to watch in the alternative cloud market include Linode, Digital Ocean, OVHcloud, UpCloud, Hetzner and Equinix Metal. In 2021, Techstrong Research published a report, DevOps and the alternative cloud, delves into these alternatives.
Industry-specific cloud ecosystems
Banks, insurance, and companies in other highly regulated industries have been slow to adopt cloud computing. However, the market is rapidly developing and companies are rethinking their approach to the cloud. One of the reasons these regulated companies are starting to invest more in the cloud is that customers have high expectations when it comes to how they interact with the business. If customers are unhappy, it is easier than ever to find alternatives. These highly regulated companies and industries are increasingly being challenged by startups in fintech, health insurance, health technology, and other industry-focused startups.
Equally important, sellers understand that one size does not fit all. Regulated industries need specific clouds that meet their regulatory and compliance needs. This industry-focused cloud is not designed as a complete ecosystem where a variety of technology partners can offer their software to regulated industries. Instead of that ,Validation has taken two different approaches to offering industry-specific offerings. Some providers offer pre-made but customizable apps. Some notable advertisements in the field of bank withdrawals include the following:
- Goldman Sachs and AWS work together To create data management and analytics solutions for financial services organizations (announced in Re: Invent 2021). The result of this collaboration is the Goldman Sachs financial data cloud. It is unclear whether AWS will introduce a more public financial services ecosystem in the future.
- IBM continues to advance the cloud for financial services in terms of customer and partner signature. IBM built its cloud for financial services in conjunction with Bank of America, and then hired the bank’s chief technology officer, Howard Boville, to head IBM’s hybrid cloud business.
- Microsoft announced the general availability of Microsoft Cloud for Financial Services in November 2021 (interestingly, it was not named Azure Financial Services). The company already has a significant footprint in the financial services industry, and we will be tracking the adoption of Microsoft Cloud for financial services closely. In September 2021, Wells Fargo revealed its digital infrastructure strategy that relies heavily on its partnership with Microsoft, but there was no mention of Wells Fargo using Microsoft Cloud for financial services.
I expect other industry-specific clouds to follow a similar pattern – with major vendors partnering with key companies in the industry to create cloud systems that meet that industry’s performance, security, and compliance requirements. For example, you can certainly imagine Oracle creating a healthcare cloud after Acquisition of Cerner Close.
Software supply chain is the key to security
“Supply chain” was a key phrase across all industries and functionalities in 2021. I specifically track the software supply chain – which, as you can imagine, is enormous and complex. Basically, your software supply chain includes anything that might affect your software. This includes APIs, cloud services, containers, the DevOps pipeline, and all the open source components you use. Software has many dependencies, and understanding the supply chain is critical to knowing your security and your exposure to risk. Take, for example, the recent Apache Log4j vulnerability. The use of Log4j is widespread, but how many companies have already been able to quickly identify vulnerable software? Check out Alan Schimmel’s December blog post, Log4j: It’s all about the supply chain, baby! Learn more about software supply chain security. In addition, API security will be a very hot topic in 2022.
However, people remain the number one threat to cybersecurity. Although sophisticated cyberattacks launched by ransomware gangs and state-sponsored actors get a lot of attention, misconfigured cloud and unpatched software are probably the biggest threats to you. Understanding your software supply chain will help uncover potential vulnerabilities and allow you to add automation, monitoring capability, and/or other security tools to help spot potential issues.
Although the cloud is not new, the cloud market is constantly evolving. While the developer community has been quick to embrace cloud computing, large companies have lagged — and regulated industries have been slower. The alternative cloud market offers different options for developers and companies that do not want high-speed complexities and do not need endless options and a global footprint. At the same time, regulated industries are changing their cloud strategies with cloud offerings that are uniquely focused on the challenges of their industry. Finally, you need to secure your programs and data no matter where they are located. Focusing on your software supply chain will help ensure that you can address security vulnerabilities and update items as needed.