Since the inception of cloud computing, every year has been met with predictions on what is next for this transformative technology and why enterprises need to migrate data and legacy systems. In the beginning, the focus centered on cost savings and how enterprises could reduce capital expenditure by unloading their data off premise and into the cloud. Other years highlighted productivity and ease of use, with the caveats of security.

So what’s in store for cloud in 2017?

Multi-cloud is the next cloud: Every few years a different cloud platform has dominated headlines and business processes. We saw the beginnings of multi-cloud environments in 2016 and the maturation will continue this year. Microsoft and 451 Research conducted a study that revealed a majority, 79%, of enterprises are using more than on provider. We expect this number to rise and enterprises to diversify their cloud platforms with multiple vendors. By using multiple cloud providers and cloud platforms to support different applications and workloads, organizations have a constantly evolving array of features and capabilities that they can cherry-pick from to tailor their solutions.

Rethink the hack: Today’s cloud security attacks are becoming more sophisticated and aggressive in forcing business to rethink how they go about protecting their data and infrastructure.  We are seeing businesses make the shift from a reactive security risk management approach to a proactive one to reduce overall exposure to damaging data breaches and support long-term business strategies. Security technologies are being designed with machine learning, crowd sourcing, anomaly detection and working together across the organization instead of in a siloed approach in order to preemptively stop breaches before they happen.

Private cloud lives on: Public cloud has seen growing interest in recent years, but private cloud servers remain an attractive option for enterprises, specifically for legacy applications. IDC is forecasted a 10.3% increase in spending in 2016, only to continue this trajectory into 2017. The private cloud model is better positioned to serve "legacy" apps. When we refer to "legacy," we are speaking to the architecture of applications and not the age. With that said, we're still very much seeing a multi-cloud approach, so while there may be private clouds on-premise, they are often mixed with other hybrid or public cloud models.

IT talent shortage remains a common challenge: The growth of cloud has outpaced the talent available to manage it. There are simply not enough qualified workers with the cloud skills to aide in the migration of business applications to a cloud environment, govern it effectively and ensure its security. We’re are seeing more organizations take the first step in addressing the shortage by setting up professional education and certification programs, but it will be some time before these actions bear fruit. Enterprises large and small have the ability to bring on managed service providers to address their cloud needs in a timely fashion. Without the in-house IT talent to support cloud technology businesses are turning to managed service providers to address their cloud needs today.  

Predictions are only as good as the next innovation in the industry. By my calculations, innovation will lie in each of the above ideas. We are beginning to see some of these take flight, but will continue to monitor their successes or failures as the industry continues to develop. Almost 15 years into cloud computing, I couldn’t have imagined we would be at this stage so soon!