The word ‘cloud’ is one of those industry jargon words that doesn’t really say much at all. But for the sake of it, here’s a definition: “Cloud” means an internet-enabled service that allows you to do some task or use some infrastructure that you’d usually need to do on your own servers onsite, or on your personal machine. Cloud services rely on a distributed architecture to guarantee availability, (usually) flexibility, efficiency, and reduced management
Cloud computing, on the other hand, is more specific and less infuriating than your mum asking how she can get on the cloud.
Cloud computing can literally be anything that allows you to achieve development tasks or run software through some other service provider over the internet. Cloud computing can help shorten development times, use less human resources, and provide service and availability guarantees to your clients.
“Cloud has the unique position of not only being a technology trend and enabler of new business models, but also as the foundation for implementations of other key trends such as IoT, AI/Cognitive, Social Platforms, Mobility, and Trusted Computing (Blockchain)”, says Kilimnik.
“Cloud providers are accelerating their infrastructure investments to keep pace with growing demand including hyperscale data factories and more points-of-presence to handle global solutions.”
What key trends in cloud computing do you see emerging in the year ahead?
Kilimniks’s perspective on the 5 key cloud trends that are accelerating in 2018 includes:
1. Containerisation and orchestration of workloads from development, right through to production
Containerisation continues to be at the forefront of development and deployment. The ability to create complete, working environments that run on any system, with fail-safe measures in place is a no-brainer.
Using Docker to easily create containerised apps that can be modified and/or run anywhere, and then automate the deployment and management process of multiple apps using Kubernetes is something devs back in the 90s could only dream about. Viva la revolución!
2. Micro-service architecture and solutions
Monolith applications are a freaking nightmare. Anyone that’s had to trawl through legacy code from decades-old applications that now looks like some sort of mutant woolly mammoth/ogre cross-breed that’s so interconnected you think your head’s going to explode knows what we’re talking about.
Today it’s all about using microservices to put together an application, using highly defined APIs, so no one has to get a massive headache.
Microservices are small, reusable components that do one specific job and can be built using whatever you like. They’re designed to be used in multiple apps, like handling remote calls. Cloud services can run and manage these microservices and API gateways. For example, Azure’s Service Fabric allows you to build, manage, and run microservices.
3. Function-as-a-Service & Serverless
Server management is a pain in the you-know-where. Provisioning, imaging, backups, rack management. What! Who has time for that? Who has the skills for that? Not developers. DevOps if you’re lucky. Probably not sys admins. You know who does? Clever algorithms and systems from Amazon (or insert your favourite cloud computing provider here).
Serverless is allowing devs to write code and just have it work. It’s about not having to worry about resource management. If that function is a resource hog, hey, don’t worry about it. AWS Lambda has your back. Write the code, run it, fear not about how to power it.
Serverless in’t cheap. But it can be handy for certain situations. You should still create code that’s elegant and designed for efficiency.
4. Machine Learning Optimised platforms, IoT architectures
Cloud AI services are the latest products to be rolled out by some of the biggest in the business. Google now has a Cloud AI suite to help enhance your business. Of course, these solutions will need to be powered by the big data that you’ve managed to accumulate over time to make accurate predictions. Other AI solutions leverage current platform APIs and web scraping to help serve up custom solutions like Talent Search, to help businesses find excellent hires.
As businesses continue to introduce more and more IoT devices into the workplace, and eventually into building, neighbourhood, city, agriculture design (etc., etc.), management of these devices, along with aggregation, historical tracking and analysis of data becomes crucial. There are already plenty of IoT cloud solutions to choose from, such as Azure’s Internet of Things.
5. Poly-cloud strategies
Cloud providers are like operating system providers. They lure you in with a great promise, then once you’re in there, you’re kind of locked into their products. You own an iPhone, you can only choose apps from the App Store. No Play Store for you.
Are you serious? Closed ecosystems can take a hike. There’s a reason why dual-booting, WINE, and VirtualBox are essential in the IT office.
The same goes with AWS, Azure, and Google. Sure, it might be “easier” to have everything under the one roof, but with a little finesse, a couple of connectors, and some brain cells, you can hook up disparate cloud services to get the best bang for your buck. Because, as we know, many aren’t cheap, and there are plenty that don’t quite do what you want.
Check out some integrations and do some research.
What types of jobs or skills should professionals look at to be at the forefront of cloud computing tech?
Digital transformation consultants
Most businesses are only just switching over to simple cloud services and don’t really understand the power behind them. Digital transformation consultants can come in and educate, making suggestions about services that will help to run businesses more efficiently, effectively, and with less overheads and management.
This will involve being able to examine current business systems and be able to visualise how they could be configured to work within the context of different cloud services. The role involves being familiar with legacy systems, toolchains, hardware and infrastructure. It also involves being up to date with the latest cloud solutions, features, limitations, pricing structures, and regional availability.
DevOps experts are still in hot demand, although the focus has moved from onsite infrastructure management and optimisation to DevOps in the cloud. This means both migration/integration of onsite systems as well investigating the latest in DevOps cloud tools that are going to help business run more smoothly.
The key to reusable software components and longevity in code is in ensuring APIs are comprehensive, simple, documented, versioned, system and language agnostic, and clever. API architects are the new key devs that help software projects run smoothly. These APIs and artifacts allow devs to test against different systems, allow testers to do their job correctly, and allow Agile development to progress as expected.
How will cloud computing change workplaces and people’s daily lives over the next year?
As Kilimnik says, “Cloud will lift up all digital solutions to a new benchmark level and this will have a large positive impact to the experience employees have with the digital solutions they interact with day-to-day, as they will become more mobile/available, scalable, reliable, and secure than they previously had been. The tools and products will be smarter and more connected than ever before.”
Cloud computing offerings aren’t going to revolutionise our lives in just a year — this is an ongoing process. You can bet that the world’s biggest tech companies are coming up with some amazing service offerings that are going to blow our minds. You can also bet that software startups are working on clever cloud solutions that are going to hit key niches to solve interesting problems within various industries and business types. And yes, they’re usually acquired by those big companies once they get a whiff of what’s on offer.
Cloud computing is the future. Jump on board while it’s hot! Looking for jobs? Check out the latest opportunities at EY Careers.