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Linode 2021 Predictions: Cost, Control, COVID, and Kubernetes - Cloud Trends to Watch in 2021

vmblog 2021 prediction series 

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

Cost, Control, COVID, and Kubernetes - Cloud Trends to Watch in 2021

By Blair Lyon, VP Cloud Experience at Linode

Over the course of this election- and lockdown-filled year, enterprises, educators, and governments did their best to keep up with everything that the pandemic threw at them. As a result, spending on cloud computing increased dramatically. Research by IDC reported that the market for cloud computing is growing at a rate of 15.7% annually, and is expected to surpass $1 trillion in 2024.

To keep their operations going amidst the chaos, companies turned to the cloud -- and began implementing a cloud strategy quickly. These changes will catch up with companies over the next year as they reevaluate what happened in 2020. More spending will inevitably be dedicated to the cloud, and to keep costs under control, developers, IT operations staff, and business teams may need to rethink their spend allocations and strategies.

Looking towards next year, these are the trends we'll be following:

Unless customers make an effort to talk with their providers about price, cloud bills will be unpredictable and costly

It is notoriously difficult to estimate costs on cloud spending. Companies are pretty good at predicting what they will use over time, but it's harder to know how much resource demand will go up or down based on real world activity. This is especially true in areas like data transfer.

In 2021, developers will have to give more careful attention to cost levels and spending before projects can get started. For IT projects in particular, it will also be necessary to get more visibility into what developers are doing. IT team leads will need to control cost and improve forecasting if they want to adequately prevent overspending in the new year.

With this, cloud service providers will be forced to become more open on what costs are involved in running their services, which will lead these companies to adopt more simplified pricing models. This critical shift to price transparency may even develop into a marketable differentiator for some companies.

As hyperscaler shortcomings become more apparent, alternatives will become increasingly important

The Big Three hyperscale providers are household names. AWS, Microsoft, and Google have been the primary public cloud vendors for nearly half of the market in 2020, as reported by Forrester. This leaves alternative cloud providers to serve the other half of the market. On top of all this, 30% of companies have already committed to expanding their spending on cloud in the coming year.

Strong alternatives to the three hyperscalers have been an option for quite some time, but as 2021 approaches and companies investigate how to keep their IT costs down, the alternatives are becoming increasingly important.

As a result, providers will be forced to differentiate on simplicity, cost, support, and trust. They'll also need to begin focusing on industry-specific solutions and untouched and underserved market areas. Providers should especially cater to small businesses who value ease of use and simplicity over having hundreds of different services to navigate.

For the purpose of cost control, multi-cloud will grow

Research by Gartner suggests that multi-cloud adoption will not slow down, and estimates that two-thirds of organizations will be brandishing a multi-cloud strategy by 2024. One of the biggest incentives for multi-cloud has always been to avoid vendor lock-in, but in 2021 companies will begin to also realize the benefits of multi-cloud from a cost control and visibility standpoint.

As basic cloud services have become commoditized, storage and compute can now work alongside one another and be sourced from multiple cloud providers at once. Kubernetes services should also make it easier to move application workloads between cloud services. However, this has proven difficult in actuality as users have to take into consideration the unique dependencies of various services.

One possible solution is for developers to choose services that are compatible and can be easily replaced. This way, they can find a solution that does the same job but also has the flexibility to select specific elements from any one cloud service. Over time, this becomes a balancing act between getting the right level of performance at the right cost, but it is beneficial in avoiding dependency on any one cloud provider.

Ease of use will be top focus with ‘Kubernetes 2.0'

Even though Kubernetes has been the default for running multi-cloud and avoiding lock-in, its faults have become clearer over time. The complexity around deploying and using Kubernetes, as well as its gaps in functionality and support, have made some users less and less enthusiastic about the project.

2021 will see a ‘version 2.0' trend take place as companies and community members strive to make container orchestration on Kubernetes more simple. This will be especially useful for people who are new to Kubernetes and don't have the time or internal resources for picking it up. The market will see more managed services for Kubernetes become available, and the project will start to resemble more of a commodity and less of a specialist product for enterprises. Above all, interested customers will begin prioritizing compatibility and thinking about how they might move between or run across these services.

Companies will re-examine COVID spending

In one way or another, the pandemic has made an impact on nearly every company. As employees worked from home, many companies had no choice but to deploy to the cloud. For some, a cloud strategy was what they always wanted-but others, those that could not source the servers or other hardware they normally rely on, were not as enthusiastic.

As companies revisit the investment decisions they made in response to the events of 2020, hindsight will guide them in adjusting to their cloud spending now that they have a clearer vision of what's ahead.

You may be wondering, why is all this necessary? The answer is that not every company will revert to normal post-pandemic operations. For some, the end of the pandemic will mimic exactly what business looked like before we hit March 2020. Others will continue to face a tough market environment, and higher spend levels on cloud will continue to be necessary. Whatever the case, tweaking budgets to support the right amount of cloud spending will be essential in 2021. It will also help companies consider what it means for cloud spending if business goes up or down over time.


Summed together, these trends highlight that with every increase in cloud spending comes the necessity of determining what the true costs really are. Hidden costs like data transfer will no longer fly. And conversations between customers and providers surrounding cost effectiveness and cost efficiency will be paramount.


About the Author

Blair Lyon 

Blair Lyon is VP Cloud Experience at Linode. He is a cloud experience, personalization, sales, marketing and technology expert with over 25 years experience building businesses and delivering award-winning solutions for the Fortune 1000. He is also a digital entrepreneur with a proven record of leadership and tangible results in cloud strategy, personalization, omni-channel marketing, business development, sales enablement, digital transformation, customer experience, design thinking, Lean & Design for Six Sigma, product marketing, launch management, business consulting, branding and advanced analytics.

Published Friday, January 15, 2021 7:35 AM by David Marshall
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