In 2016, the big question was whether it was prudent to take any aspect of corporate computing to the Cloud. In 2017, that question appears resolved as, according to IBM, cloud investments are up 19 percent year-over-year. Today, the “new” big question is how to efficiently structure any cloud configuration, whether it involves on-premise assets, or private, public or hybrid cloud options. Tomorrow’s technology solutions will emerge from the evolving interconnection between on-site and cloud-based computing.
That same IBM study revealed that while many companies in most industries use cloud computing, they do not do so across the entire breadth of their enterprise. Of the 1,000+ survey respondents, almost half (45 percent) of all corporate operations continue to use on-premise servers. The executives cite numerous reasons for their incomplete adoption of cloud solutions, and their insights underscore where cloud vulnerabilities lie – and therefore where emerging trends in cloud computing can reduce or eliminate those gaps.
Benefits of private cloud configurations
Unlike public cloud services, where technical resources are shared among many tenants, all computing capacities and services in private cloud configurations are dedicated solely to the single owner/tenant of the private cloud. This separation reduces security risks by eliminating the possibility of exposure to non-corporate staff, and in some cases improves compliance capabilities. Any cloud computing involving health care data, for example, must be compliant with federal data security laws. Achieving and maintaining that level of security is easier for private cloud tenants or owners.
Private cloud computing also provides the elastic infrastructure most companies need to remain competitive. The cloud provides a level of scalability that many on-premise options cannot match. Over the past three years, private cloud configurations have become increasingly popular, and because many emerging technologies are much more easily implemented on the cloud side, they will continue to grow in popularity in the future.
The “dark” cloud brightens
The vast volume of data is “dark,” collected by computers but not accessible to humans. Cloud computing systems provide digital tools that are designed specifically to understand, reason and learn from those hidden data stores. Today’s cloud service providers have the capacity to apply both artificial intelligence and machine learning programming to these vast quantities of raw information. IBM’s Watson® is perhaps the most famous example of how machines can out-think their human programmers. Cloud technology offers the same “deep learning” capacity as a service to any interested enterprise.
Internet of Things (IoT)
One challenge to early IoT adoption was the need for a central hub through which devices could communicate with each other; even then, there had been no central “dashboard” through which to control all the gadgetry. However, in summer 2016, Google introduced Thread for IoT in-home use. “Threaded” device connections happen through a wireless mesh instead of a hub, allowing devices to avoid a single point where one failure collapses the entire system. Most of the major technology giants have already introduced some form of IoT central control capacity for both on-premise and cloud deployments.
Security and cognitive computing
Data security is a major concern. Reports of international breaches spanning multiple countries and millions of victims are commonplace and exasperating. Programmers readily admit that whatever can be programmed can be hacked. However, the opportunities presented by the cloud’s Big Data analytics and cognitive machine learning also appear to be informing the solution to the data security conundrum.
- Speed of machine learning – Just as artificially intelligent devices can find answers to daily queries, so too can they identify breach opportunities and suggest solutions to those. Applying the same AI skills and data sets to security concerns should reveal solutions not yet considered by mere humans.
- Vastness of cloud capacity – Perhaps the biggest drawback to the on-premise system is its relatively small size. Unless the proprietor elects to connect it to a bigger, Big Data resource, information regarding internal security concerns is limited to what that smaller processor has collected. A private cloud, however, offers the wealth of multiple data banks as the foundation for security searches and possible solutions.
- Dedicated security attention – Perhaps the best feature of a cloud-connected system is that cloud managed service providers (MSPs) keep the data banks updated with the latest security programming based on the most current understanding of data security threats. While in-house IT departments might have the capacity to be as thorough as the cloud MSP, most companies have neither the budget nor the resources to maintain those departments at the highest level necessary to optimally reduce threat exposures.
This year’s cloud trends continue to evolve as corporations work to reduce security threats while improving productivity. In 2018, the increased security and efficiency of private cloud solutions will cause their popularity to continue to thrive.