A review of Cloud computing in 2020 and what’s next in 2021

2020 was the year when Cloud computing and Cloud-based services moved from being ‘nice to have’ to being essential for many businesses. Therefore, it is appropriate to take a look at some of the key Cloud Computing developments that have taken place in the sphere during the past year.

Cloud providers backed frontline efforts to combat COVID-19

Microsoft, AWS, and Google have all made efforts to put their Cloud resources at the disposal of hospitals, first-responders, drug developers, and researchers tackling the pandemic. AWS worked with the WHO to track the virus, collect epidemiological data, and rapidly translate resources into different languages. They also built their own COVID-19 data lake and committed $20million to help develop diagnostic solutions.

Google worked with health institutions developing new techniques to examine huge datasets, and also made Covid-19 datasets public and free to query. This included data from the John Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering, OpenStreetMaps and the U.S. Census Bureau. They also gave $20million of Google Cloud credits to organisations researching therapies and vaccines.

Microsoft’s ‘AI for Health’ supported frontline efforts by helping to assess economic impacts, treatment and diagnostics, resource allocation, identifying misleading information, and supporting research. They also released a ‘healthcare bot’ to help the public assess their symptoms and suggest next steps.

Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure

The Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, or JEDI, is a Cloud computing contract for the US Department of Defense. It was awarded to Microsoft, but controversially. Amazon Web Services (AWS) had been widely favoured to bag the contract and filed a lawsuit to contest it, alleging political interference from President Trump. The lawsuit has caused delays, so in December the US Government again urged the courts to dismiss the complaint so the project can begin in earnest and supply the U.S. military with Cloud technologies.

Increased Cloud revenues

Many companies have only been able to continue operating thanks to the Cloud. Inevitably, the majority expect their Cloud usage and expenditure to exceed the budgets they set at the beginning of the year. However, the majority are also saying they expect to continue using Cloud services when the pandemic is over, because of other savings and advantages. Major resource providers like Amazon, Microsoft, and Google have proved their capacity to scale-up their Cloud products to deal with the steep growth in home-working.

Cloud-based videoconferencing booms

The use of Microsoft Teams and Zoom exploded at the outset of the pandemic so that isolated team members could continue to collaborate. The number of daily Zoom meeting participants increased from 10 million in Dec 2019 to more than 300million in April 2020.

More growth is expected when schools and colleges catch up with the need to provide remote learning for their students. Videoconferencing has probably changed many business models permanently. Most workers feel that inclusivity and collaboration has actually improved compared to office working.

The Anthos multi-Cloud

Anthos enables customers to manage and build apps across environments – including Google Cloud, Azure, AWS and in-house platforms. Approximately a year after unveiling it in San Francisco, Anthos (on Azure) is already being trialled by a selection of customers. Google plans to enable customers to run Anthos without a third-party hypervisor which should reduce costs, and boost performance.

Samsung and IBM collaboration

Hybrid Clouds are definitely an emerging trend and tech giants IBM and Samsung have joined forces to develop a hybrid Cloud solution that will combine 5G and edge computing to enable enterprises to rapidly process large quantities of data from edge-computing workloads. The collaboration will merge IBM’s hybrid Cloud, end-to-end network management, AI edge-computing, Samsung’s Galaxy 5G mobile devices, and Red Hat’s open architecture.

In retrospect, 2020 saw the Cloud not only growing in scale but in sophistication. In the near future AI, Edge computing, the IoT, Cloud applications and digital collaboration will be the norm. Companies that begin the switch early will have a competitive edge.

Cloud Computing In 2021

Cloud computing was one of the heroes of 2020, with a great number of businesses crediting their survival to this technology. When the Covid pandemic struck and organisations around the world were suddenly forced to accommodate large-scale remote working, it was cloud services such as SaaS (Software as a Service), PaaS (Platform as a Service) and IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) that afforded them the invaluable continuity that they needed.

Now, as we begin a new year with a new lockdown in place across the UK, the use of cloud computing is as essential as ever. Yet whilst 2020 saw many of us rush to migrate to the cloud without developing a carefully thought out strategy for doing so, we can now take a more considered approach. As a result, IT support experts have identified some key trends for cloud use in 2021, which can help your business continue to prosper.

The Cloud Will Be The Cornerstone Of Future Businesses

The use of cloud computing is now undisputedly here to stay. The benefits afforded by the technology (such as flexibility, agility, and scalability, all available at a cost-effective price point) not only made it the perfect match for the ever-changing circumstances of 2020, but also mean it is the ideal solution to an unpredictable future.

A survey by Enterprise Technology Research in the US indicates that the number of Americans working permanently from home will double this year, and it is cloud services which will make this possible. The cloud is already big business globally, and experts at Gartner predict that its value will continue to rise dramatically in 2021, with a projected growth of 19%. That will bring the value of the public cloud in 2021 to $307 million globally, up from $258 million last year.

How We Use The Cloud Will Change In 2021

It hasn’t all been plain sailing, however. There have certainly been teething problems for many organisations, who have reported problems with employees getting to grips with cloud tools, as well as with software that wasn’t optimised for cloud deployment. Security, too, has been an issue, although in the majority of instances any vulnerabilities have been caused by user misconfiguration of cloud software, in the haste of getting it set up. These areas of concern have informed the latest predicted trends for cloud use in 2021.

One key trend will be the training of all staff, not just IT professionals, to be proficient in cloud software and safe online working practices. This sets up organisations for a future where almost all businesses are likely to become fully digitised, with cloud services at their core. It’s therefore crucial that all employees are equipped with the knowledge needed to fully optimise these services, particularly with a view to accessing and analysing data independently.

Security measures also come under the spotlight, with the increased use of multi-factor authentication predicted, as well as closer scrutiny of employee access permissions. With even trusted VPNs running into security breaches last year, it’s certainly a topic to be taken seriously as remote working continues.

It also looks to be good news for those who have been struggling with software not designed for cloud deployment. A 50% surge in both new application development and refinement of existing software is predicted, meaning that this issue should soon be a thing of the past.

There’s little doubt that the cloud is here to stay, and so too is remote working, with reported benefits of increased productivity in many sectors. This means that businesses should act now to prepare for the future, optimising their use of cloud capabilities, and building the best use of the technology into the core of ongoing digitisation strategies. In this way, businesses can be well equipped to face the challenges of 2021 and beyond.