As we look back on 2017, “the pace of change is one I’ve never seen” is a sentiment shared among IT customers, practitioners, vendors and analysts.
Much of the change is driven by cloud solutions or cloud-based delivery of emerging technologies, and more change is all but a certainty moving into 2018.
Although the forms of change will vary, change will be seen across customer behaviours, tooling requirements and the vendor landscape.
The common driver of change is the shift in the utilisation of cloud from enabling technology and cost improvements to delivering more strategic business value.
Put simply, customers are no longer only asking “What can cloud save in my budget?” but rather, “What can cloud do for my business?” This shift to more business- focused cloud usage and evaluation has wide- ranging impacts on the market.
Regardless of the joint need for cloud from IT and lines of business (LOBs), this type of cloud objective will increase the number of stakeholders involved in cloud decision making moving forward.
It will also roll over into the existing environment, which is frequently fragmented from a cloud adoption perspective. Most organisations have numerous cloud solutions spread geographically, functionally and divisionally.
Consolidating and managing the legacy-plus- cloud environment as well as moving forward with new business-driven adoption requires organisations to obtain a management tool set that crosses both cloud and on-premises technologies.
Lastly, Technology Business Research (TBR) anticipates a combination of vendor consolidation and a flurry of activity as providers target geographic, functional and vertical-specific needs that are being driven by customers’ demand for closer alignment to business outcomes than horizontal technologies.
Although much remains uncertain moving into 2018, you can bet the cloud market will not look the same in a year.
Changing cloud buyer
Like all market trend changes, the one that will play out is grounded and driven by the customers who commit real dollars into products and services being offered in the market.
The shift toward a business focus for cloud investments will be illustrated by changes in who is involved in decisions, the process for making decisions and the objectives for the ultimate solutions.
Essentially, expect changes in nearly every dynamic within cloud buying in 2018. The growing involvement of LOB stakeholders will continue, an obvious outcome of the increased business focus of cloud solutions.
However, the change in stakeholders will not stop there, as the increasingly hybrid nature of solutions will enlarge decision- making teams. These new stakeholders will include IT practitioners across legacy, network and security disciplines, as well as business stakeholders that cross functions.
Further, this underscores a need for business process change and how to promote departments working together more often as well as more cross-functional decision making. This does not come easy and is often a real point of struggle for organisations.
Once overcome, change can be made and business results can improve.
As cloud solutions grow more complex, so too must teams of decision makers. For instance, while most core legacy applications have not yet moved to cloud delivery, cloud is being used to modernise and enhance their value to the organisation.
The intersection of cloud and emerging technology such as Internet of Things (IoT) and cognitive has a major impact on these applications.
Just because a core ERP system remains largely on premises does not mean these emerging technologies cannot impact that application and the associated business functions. Hybridising those legacy applications and adding new cloud-delivered services as an enhancement is a model that can provide immediate bene ts without the much larger migration task.
While that use case has a lot of applicability in cloud during 2018, it is not one that can be achieved without a much larger set of stakeholders across both IT and business functions.
What next for hybrid cloud?
Although cloud has simplified much of the technical complexity of traditional IT for customers, hybrid implementations return it.
Management headaches related to cloud implementations have been growing as the scale and scope of solutions expands, and integration across clouds and on-premises environments undoubtedly magnifies these challenges.