A Look Back and Leap Forward into 2020

We’ve seen a massive maturity curve in cloud adoption across Europe over the last few years. Although organisations are now reaping the benefits of the cloud, there are undoubtedly new challenges that have been introduced into the market. New stakeholders are having to upskill fast and learn about its potential and risks, working practices are having to evolve beyond current training levels and many are walking a tightrope between hype and opportunities for tangible innovation.

In 2020 some of these challenges will evolve. For a bit of fun, I’ve scored my 2019 predictions for accuracy and included some additional thoughts for 2020 in terms of what to further expect over the coming year.

Subscription model & blocks of services – the new cloud consumption model: 9/10

Earlier this year we launched Public Cloud Service Blocks, a flexible way to help customers pick and choose what services they utilise depending on their current need, allowing them to pay a subscription to those services only when they are being used.

This has brought my previous predictions of the subscription model and blocks of services together into a valuable proposition that customers are really benefiting from. The score of 9/10 is based on the great feedback I’ve received from customers.

Moving into 2020, Service Blocks will continue to evolve, but we will also see hybrid become the new multi-cloud again as organisations identify that a mix of private and public cloud environments is best suited to their needs. Whilst the popularity of multi-cloud is undisputed with 81 per cent of companies using cloud technologies in some way, many firms are still making investments in their private cloud solutions.

Cloud service provider ‘as a service’: 8/10

While we have seen Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS) continue to grow across many organisations, the rise of Platform as a Service has been in full force in 2019.  Serverless, Functions as a Service and API Integration/Management have all played a key part in driving forward the “aaS” model. This has been driven in part by the sheer volume of digital initiatives happening across multiple industries. “Disrupt or be disrupted” is the phrase being used and our customers (and rightly so) are requesting all services of cloud to be delivered as a service.

One thing is clear, while you can’t predict disruption, you can plan and importantly curate all of the elements you need to be successful – including creating the culture, building the right engagement framework, piecing together services and technologies from multiple providers to deliver the right outcome that will be critical to success.

This curating reminds me very much of the Spotify operating model of squads, tribes and guilds and as new “as a service” offerings come to market, the ability for teams to operate cross-functionally to deliver will be critical.

My prediction for 2020 is that the “as a service model” will now be more about the organisational transformation that CIO’s will have to undertake to respond to ever-changing business needs.

Composing the containers is getting easier: 10/10

Containers and Kubernetes services have launched in abundance in 2019 making it become a worthy competitor to server virtualisation offerings. A score of 10/10 seems fair as the service offerings has been pushed to the fore and now offered as a full services by all three of the hyperscalers – AWS, Azure and Google Cloud as well as private cloud vendors such as VMware and IBM.

All vendors are independently enhancing Kubernetes and the customers’ dream of serving and porting containers like a “utility could” is becoming a reality. However, there is some way to go to productionise Kubernetes for enterprises for what we call “Day 2” operations – which include patching, upgrades, security, scaling etc. These operations still require some work.  At Rackspace, we package up 13 additional services such as Prometheus, Grafana, Kibana, Istio, FluentD, Ark etc to help in this space.

We also saw some fantastic proactive work by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation which recently conducted an audit on Kubernetes uncovering 35 vulnerabilities. This shows that the community is a really strong community and ecosystem.

In 2020, there’s also going to be significant competition between the three biggest cloud hyperscalers as we see AWS Outposts, Azure Arc and Google Anthos go live for large scale use as well as VMware delivering on Project Pacific and Tanzu.

2020 is going to be so exciting and our customers are leaning heavily on Rackspace for advice, guidance and support to as they embark on their Kubernetes journey.

AIOps maturity curve: 5/10

I’m scoring this 2019 prediction low as I underestimated the maturity curve and adoption in 2019.  At Rackspace we have seen great benefits of using AIOps to improve the customer experience but the market hasn’t been as quick on the uptake – I obviously have a big task of shouting more about the huge benefits!

I am still very hopeful that 2020 will be the year where AIOps becomes a critical part of the IT kitbag. Moogsoft and ScienceLogic are leading the way and as IOT and Edge take up increases we expect larger adoption as more and more data is having to be consumed we will continue to see AIOps enhance as adoption increases.

Multi-everything: 9/10

Data is being used everywhere for different reasons and we are entering a year of continued Edge and IoT build up. My scoring is relatively high as customers are now utilising data and insights to drive not just insight but also customer outcomes on a widespread basis.

I predict in 2020 specific verticals will lead the way with Industrial Edge and the Retail Edge as the main sectors driving adoption, and importantly value. This means, for example, that more retailers will have access to smart shelves like the ones Amazon implemented in its Amazon Go stores. This technology uses dozens of sensors to provide real-time inventory visibility and update pricing according to demand.

I am also looking forward to the 2020 conferences in London with 5G where I expect to see a huge ramp-up of augmented and virtual reality demonstrations. These experiences use a lot of processing power and cellular data but with the increased capacity of 5G networks, retailers will be able to create richer, more detailed experiences when integrating their physical and digital worlds. Real-time product placement via apps sound fun, but I am reminded of the scenes from the movie The Fifth Element – are we ready for hyper-reality experiences? This wonderful video from Keiichi Matsuda, a design consultant, shows a vision of how Edge and IOT can deliver hyper-reality across many experiences. It looks fun but also sometimes overpowering.

Expect to see many experiments and GDPR, data management and security play a huge part in the decision making process.

Further thoughts on 2020

As we shift more towards a hybrid cloud approach where workloads are balanced across multiple public cloud platforms and on-premise environments, a range of new security considerations emerge.

Now, cloud custodians must ensure that the multiple customers within their business understand and adhere to security, as well as ensure that it is always baked into every step of the process regardless of what service or platform is developed or used. So, in 2020, it will be more important than ever for the CISO to become the Customer Information Security Officer and work across more departments to ensure that security is always the first consideration and that innovation never introduces undue risk to the business.

The state of cloud has changed beyond recognition over the past decade. Looking back, 2010 was the year cloud computing went from concept to reality. Ten years on, adoption rates are high and growing, with businesses transforming processes and creating previously unimaginable value from its flexibility and scalability. The next generation will move from “Cloud First” to Cloud Right”.

In 2010, many digital companies and social media platforms didn’t have much influence. Today, Airbnb, Fitbit, WhatsApp and Instagram have enhanced our lives and all run on cloud platforms, responding and reacting to changing demands of their customer base. As more data is consumed, analysed and acted upon, cloud platforms will have to grow and we have seen Microsoft Azure increase its compute capacity by 1500% in the UK since 2016. This will have to continue to meet the new growing demands.

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As Chief Technology Officer for Rackspace EMEA, Lee James is responsible for helping customers accelerate the value of their business through our people, processes and technology. He is the executive sponsor for a number of EMEA customers, and leads the strategic development of Rackspace EMEA products and services. Lee has more than 20 years of experience across large scale, multinational and agile-based environments, developing and implementing industry-leading cloud, analytics, digital strategy and transformation to deliver significant business value to customers. His prior experience includes senior roles with the Financial Times Stock Exchange 100 Index, BP, Betfair and GlaxoSmithKline. At Betfair, Lee was responsible for delivering a DevOps-driven platform that performed more transactions than all the European stock markets each day. At BP, he was recognized for building the company's first multi-cloud platform.

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