Last year was a big year for the enterprise cloud space. Data recently released from Synergy Research Group showed that the cloud market grew to more than $180 billion in 2017 – annual growth of 24 percent.

The role of cloud is changing and maturing to move beyond just infrastructure-as-a-service to become the platform for innovation. As enterprises continue to move their workloads to the cloud, they are seeking higher value services such as artificial intelligence, blockchain and the Internet of Things to help them generate new value from their business data.

The cloud market is poised for more growth this year, with focus on cloud-native thinking, a renewed emphasis on security and navigating new regulatory frameworks, and driving new innovation through containers, Kubernetes and industry-specific solutions.

As GDPR becomes a reality, cloud security growth and sophistication will skyrocket

GDPR becomes a reality on May 25, 2018 and will affect companies both in and out of the EU who handle the data of EU citizens.

According to a GDPR readiness survey, almost 40 percent of businesses are fearful of a major compliance failing and the financial penalties for non-compliance are severe. As they navigate the complexities of GDPR, enterprises will double down on cloud security and focus on taking security measures to ensure their cloud apps protect personal data from loss, alteration, or unauthorized processing. In response, cloud service providers will continue to take extraordinary steps to ensure security is at the core of the entire cloud stack.

Cloud security services will become more sophisticated with advancements to encryption capabilities, the continued integration of AI, and development of security services that work seamlessly across public, private and multi-cloud environments.

Reaching a tipping point in maturity: containers, Kubernetes, and serverless

Microservices architectures built on containers and serverless computing have revolutionized the speed at which apps can be built and how they connect into the most competitive technologies today: AI, blockchain and machine learning. This year we will see the adoption of these technologies reach a tipping point. They will move from early adoption to becoming the de facto standard for complex and production-ready apps across industries and companies of all sizes.

This shift is being driven by new tools that emerged in 2017 – such as Grafeas, Istio and Composer -- that enable developers to more securely manage and coordinate the many moving parts created by building with containers, serverless and microservices. These tools are enabling greater visibility for the developer including who is working with data, what’s being changed, and who has access, leading to better security. The result will be an uptick in the development of mature apps that can span and operate across multiple systems, teams and data streams.

Cloud-native thinking will drive a cultural shift that spurs innovation

Cloud thinking – both cultural and technical – is the only way forward, and many organizations are moving towards a true cloud-native architecture. As this shift occurs, organizations are embracing new technologies that are increasingly easy to implement.

This year these changes will also begin to drive greater cultural shifts within these organizations. Technical teams, from data scientists to developers, are now considering questions like, how does my architecture foster innovation by handling the explosion of data from IoT? How can I take advantage of serverless to accelerate development? Is security built in to support blockchain solutions in my industry?

As teams answer these questions, they will begin to transform into a more collaborative and iterative learning-based culture. This shift to cloud-native thinking will drive organizational innovation that brings together professionals with specialized skill sets from app developers, data scientists and data users in brand new ways.

Industry solutions are the future of cloud

Enterprises have moved beyond pure infrastructure-as-a-service and are turning to the cloud as a platform for innovation and new business value. As enterprises become focused on the bigger picture of what cloud can do for their business, they will look for industry-specific solutions that provide a single architecture from infrastructure all the way up to higher value AI and analytics services as opposed to purchasing piecemeal cloud services.

For example, financial services companies will look to cloud for high performance computing as a service that couples GPU-accelerated infrastructure with embedded AI and deep learning capabilities in a single solution to help them turn the billions of data points they collect into actionable insights.

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