The COVID-19 pandemic slowed a lot of things down, but cloud adoption certainly wasn’t among them. The rush to remote work and growth in online sales, not to mention other sudden changes, rapidly increased the pace of digital transformation and made the cloud more integral than ever. In fact, according to one McKinsey Global Survey from near the end of 2020, the pandemic may have sped up the rate of digital adoption by several years in some areas of business — in particular, cloud spending ballooned. According to Flexera’s 2021 State of the Cloud Report, 90% of businesses reported higher cloud usage than expected due to the pandemic, including about 1 in 3 whose use was significantly higher than planned. With this surge in new use has come a variety of cloud innovations.

As we enter year two of this massive shift, here are the top trends to keep an eye on:

THE NEXT WAVE OF AI INNOVATION IS ALREADY HERE

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) capabilities are constantly improving. These tools can help organizations find trends in massive amounts of data and create real, actionable insights. With applications in nearly every industry, cloud-based AI solutions will continue to be a sought-after commodity for the foreseeable future. 

The AI market has already seen sustained growth during the pandemic, according to the Stanford University Human-Centered "Artificial Intelligence 2021 AI Index" report. Advances in natural language processing and the use of AI-specific processors, in particular, have defined 2021, according to the MIT Technology Review.

AI can be a difference-maker, but to get the most out of these solutions, you’ll need to make sure they’re properly integrated. Moving forward, organizations will need to build their systems with AI capabilities in mind. Gartner’s recent report “Top IT Priorities: Leadership Vision - 2021 IT Trends,” for example, noted that proper AI engineering was key to successfully implementing projects.

MORE ORGS. ARE MOVING TO A HYBRID MODEL

With more processes than ever dependent on the cloud, organizations are increasingly leaning on multiple cloud providers or cloud types, whether it's a public, private or hybrid cloud. So-called “multi-cloud” models can ensure you’re getting the best possible deal and features. If done right, it ensures you have cloud capabilities that match your business processes, rather than the other way around. However, too many disparate features may also complicate implementation and silo information if not done well. 

Multi-clouds aren’t the only trend that fits under the hybrid model umbrella. Many enterprises still rely on on-premise servers for much of what they do. To attract clients not ready to fully commit to cloud migration, most major providers now offer these flexible options. In addition to their public cloud platforms, providers are starting to offer storage space that doesn’t require enterprises to adjust their systems. This eases the transition and allows companies to be selective on what areas they use the cloud for.

DESKTOP-AS-A-SERVICE IS COMING SOON

As remote work has gone from an emergency measure to a normal part of the workplace, cloud providers are beginning to offer what’s called “desktop-as-a-service,” or a fully virtual platform for working that’s often paid for at an hourly rate. While once implemented primarily as a cost-saving measure, the technology has found a new use as a facilitator of remote work.

Desktop-as-a-service systems can offer a few advantages for the right kind of organization. DaaS platforms allow you to remove extra hardware and leave much of your security concerns to a provider. These kinds of solutions are also extremely scalable, making them a potentially good option for up-and-coming remote companies. In addition, DaaS platforms have potential cybersecurity benefits, as they keep employees from handling sensitive information on their personal devices or networks.

As offices around the world went remote this past year, the DaaS space has seen a huge uptick in growth. According to Gartner, the number of customers for these services is expected to increase by 150% from 2020 to 2023. In other words, if your company is staying remote for the foreseeable future, don’t be surprised to see DaaS used for more and more processes. 

Whether your business is looking to streamline processes, boost organizational agility or add new tech capabilities, there’s a good chance that a cloud solution will be an important part of the puzzle.

OPTIMIZING COSTS

With all these rapid changes in how organizations are using the cloud, cost control and scalability might not be the highest priority. However, that can snowball into big problems down the road, so it's important to understand and control where your cloud budget is being allocated to reduce waste.

Luckily, IgniteTech customers have access to the Cloud Cost Optimization Offering included with your existing subscription. Check out the calculator below to see what your potential savings could be:

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