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Zadara 2021 Predictions: A New Cloud Paradigm - Five Key Trends

vmblog 2021 prediction series 

Industry executives and experts share their predictions for 2021.  Read them in this 13th annual series exclusive.

A New Cloud Paradigm - Five Key Trends

By Steve Costigan, Field CTO EMEA, Zadara

Since the first lockdown in March 2020, COVID-19 has changed the way we live and work. Many organizations have redefined how they operate, some are WFH for the long term. Either way, security measures and network infrastructure has had to adapt. As we begin to think about shifting to a post COVID-19 world, many businesses will enter a new dynamic in which digital transformation is accelerated. New applications will emerge that we haven't even thought of yet, and IT will be central to this by enabling more instant access and portability of systems. There is a new cloud paradigm emerging - and we'll see some significant technologies enter the mainstream due to these shifts and changes that are underway.

1.   Containerization Will Accelerate 

From containerization in development environments to full-scale production orchestration managed by Kubernetes, the use of persistent production workloads and running business applications on containers will accelerate. Indeed, many companies will look to run their entire business in containerization, driven by the emergence of persistent storage for containers. A key factor driving this? Data mobility. The need to move data from on-premises to cloud or between clouds is a challenge that can be overcome with containers - and having a common platform will enable containerization to go to new levels in 2021. Gone will be the days of worrying about virtual machine types. Instead, containers will allow application and infrastructure architects to look beyond the VM toward a standard unit of measure. No more wondering about which hypervisor (KVM, ESXi, Hyper-V, etc.) to use. Instead, companies can focus their attention on where the application needs to run to meet the business needs.

2.   Edge/Cloud Computing Will Drive New Initiatives and Adoption of New Technology

Edge/cloud computing will enter into the mainstream. Single large data centers simply cannot overcome latency or sovereignty issues. There are times when they need to run locally on a private cloud and times when the public cloud is better suited. Either way, edge/cloud computing gives businesses the ability to run their infrastructure in a common approach - no need to design for different architectures in different locations. This portability will drive new initiatives and the adoption of new technology, such as 5G applications running at the edge and addressing certain business functions that a hyperscaler-delivered solution cannot address from a centralized location. In addition, GPU accelerators at the edge will drive different workloads and higher processing levels at the edge, thus reducing latency and creating localized aggregation points for GPU-intensive applications.

3.   VDI Takes On New Life

COVID-19 has changed the world. With more people working from home (many perhaps permanently), a key issue is controlling company/corporate data and how to allow safe access to data remotely. This is causing a new thought process around remote applications and access to them using a zero trust methodology, which will in turn drive virtual desktop usage and create a rebirth of VDI. Remote desktop capabilities can ensure that key data stays within the corporate boundaries. In fact, 451 Research has already noted a significant change in VDI usage during COVID-19. The number of companies that have increased remote desktop capabilities using VDI means it's here to stay. However solid protection mechanisms will need to be implemented alongside.

Further options for driving VDI are things like workforce automation (in which organizations are exploring business processes running in VDI that provides a whole new level of automation) and desktop automation (in which companies will seek to automate tasks so that employees don't need to be at their desk, allowing simplified data entry tasks to be completed with automation). Expect 2021 to see a rise in the number of companies acquiring technology to help automate tasks. In addition, the use of GPUs in this space will continue to accelerate and enable more complex workloads to operate remotely, especially as 5G networks start to become common.

4.   Object Storage Stays in the Spotlight

A major shift is happening - the storage industry has long been embedded in block and file systems only for business applications. Driven by AI, ML, analytics and the ready accessibility for a hybrid cloud world, new apps, automation systems, Backup, DR are all utilizing object storage - and its usage will continue to evolve. In the traditional storage world, working with files systems generally has limited scale or it's extremely expensive to overcome the limitations. Large amounts of machine-generated data needs to reside in a scalable infrastructure, especially to meet GDPR and PCI regulation demands. Indeed, longtail data is being driven by large amounts of unstructured data - so there is a need to simplify sharing and scalability - but just adding storage to traditional storage systems does not meet the need to scale at the same rate. Object storage is the perfect mechanism to do just that. In 2021, we will see new use cases for object storage, which will drive the need for higher levels of performance. Even today, there are requirements to SSD technology, and as this technology evolves it will enable the ability to do more.

5.   Automation Takes Center Stage

There is a level of automation maturity in the IT industry that is mirroring other industries. As the reliance on people to do things changes and there is more infrastructure as code and an automation of deployments, there will be a shift in IT skill requirements. Data input from many different systems will use ML and AI to deliver new infrastructure dynamically and scalably. The normal rules will still apply: manually defining the process, fixing any bugs, trying to automate in a universal way, but the ability to model "what if" scenarios will lead to significantly improved efficiency. Therefore, 2021 will see businesses defining their automation processes not just by coding but by people developing processes and then automating from there using process building tools - which will lead to simplification and enhanced time to deployment. This is where cloud and container automation with business process automation can deliver real advantages, especially where rapid change is required.

COVID-19 has indeed spurred major changes in the business world, where companies of all sizes have had to adjust quickly to support WFH and other challenges. We're now in a brave new world of increased digital transformation, which will only accelerate in the months and years ahead. 2021 should see companies embracing this with more automation, better business processes and new technologies.


About the Author

Steve Costigan 

Steve is an experienced IT professional, with over 30 years of experience across many technologies and systems within the data center and cloud arena. Steve is skilled in taking complex technical subjects and making a simplified solution achievable - especially around storage, virtualization and cloud technologies. Steve joined Zadara in 2014 - and as Field CTO is responsible for helping Zadara partners achieve the best possible outcome of utilizing Zadara and Zadara partner technologies to deliver successful business outcomes.

Published Friday, December 11, 2020 7:26 AM by David Marshall
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