Twenty-twenty is over. Last year was a challenge for the whole world, and there’s no shortage of articles and blog posts listing very good reasons why. But it also provided a learning experience for many of us, including the cloud computing industry.
So I’m going to focus on our piece of the puzzle. Let’s look at what’s on the horizon for our corner of the tech world. We’ve learned a lot in the last year, and the implications will guide the evolution of the cloud for a while. Here’s what the current situation indicates for the future of cloud computing.
Forrester says retaining centralized management while moving toward hyperlocal operations will be important. Big companies will be improving their operations on a hyperlocal level. Medium-sized businesses will grow and expand to new locations. The challenge: How can an organization serve customers hyperlocally and take advantage of centralized technology management, both at the same time?
One answer, according to Forrester, is Zero Trust security. In a Zero Trust environment, according to CSO Online, a network does not allow any access to any device until it has been authenticated. The old “castle-and-moat” model — defend the perimeter, then give free rein to those allowed in — is outdated, they say. Instead, organizations should use an array of tools including multifactor authentication, identity and access management, orchestration, analytics, encryption, scoring and file system permissions, along with sound governance policies. It’s a whole way of thinking, not just a shiny new technology.
For their part, Gartner highlights privacy-enhancing computation as a key trend. Privacy-enhancing computation provides a trusted environment, performs decentralized processing and analytics, and encrypts data and algorithms. It helps organizations share data without sacrificing security.
Google Cloud enables hyperlocal and centralized operations in a trusted environment. To do this, we use Google’s secure-by-design infrastructure, built-in protection, and global network to protect your information, identities, applications, and devices. Forrester has acknowledged this by naming Google Cloud a leader in the Forrester Wave™ Q4 2020 report “Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) Platform Native Security.”
In addition to local vs. centralized and sharing vs. security, there is the private vs. public balance to consider. Hybrid cloud services combine these concepts to pave the way forward.
The hybrid cloud — for example, Google’s Anthos — allows organizations to modernize existing apps and build cloud-native apps. It weds private and public cloud services, giving an experience that’s consistent across local and cloud-based environments. As IBM put it: “[H]ybrid cloud is your choice if you want to move to a cloud native, cloud-based architecture without abandoning your existing applications.”
The hybrid cloud allows organizations to prioritize privacy, compliance and security, while being flexible enough to handle exponential data growth. Forbes has declared this enterprise architecture a winner. The disruptions of 2020, Forbes says, have proven that it’s essential to be as adaptable as possible, and hybrid cloud solutions help this happen.
Gartner goes one step further: it sees the distributed cloud as a wave of the future. Distributed cloud is “the first cloud model that incorporates physical location of cloud-delivered services as part of its definition,” Gartner says.
The distributed cloud moves computing operations to diverse physical locations, allowing lower latency and less risk of inefficiencies and outages. Gartner predicts that in the coming years, distributed cloud will come to represent “the foundation of the next generation of cloud computing.”
Centralized, local; secure, collaborative; private, public. Cloud providers are striving to provide the best of everything, while minimizing the disadvantages. We at Google Cloud are looking forward to pushing the boundaries of what cloud computing can do for organizations everywhere, in the coming year and beyond.
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