5 Cloud Trends to Watch in 2017

It's almost impossible to believe that just a few short years ago, the cloud was a new idea, and more than a few experts were convinced that it was never going to be more than a passing trend. There is no doubt now that the cloud has been one of the most transformative technologies of the last decade, and an important part of any business. In fact, a study by Cisco found that by the end of this decade, it's likely that more than 80 percent of all data center traffic will be cloud based. It's no longer a question of if a business should move some or all of their functions to the cloud, but a question of how to best leverage the technology for the greatest benefit.

With that in mind, there are some trends in how businesses are using the cloud that are likely to be the major stories of 2017.

1. Continued Migration to the Cloud

The continued migration to the cloud will undoubtedly be the major cloud trend of the next year. As mentioned, Cisco predicts that the majority of data will be cloud based by 2020, and other experts agree that this year will mark the beginning of the so-called "great migration," in which those businesses that have not yet migrated to the cloud will begin to do so. Many of the issues that have kept enterprises from fully embracing the cloud, such as security and functionality, have been greatly improved and are no longer as great of a concern as they were even a couple years ago. At this point, the benefits of the cloud outweigh any potential drawbacks, and those enterprises that have approached the cloud with caution will finally begin embracing the technology.

2. Expanded Managed Services

According to research by TechRepublic, the percentage of corporate IT budgets spent on the cloud will increase in 2017 - from 28 percent to 34 percent - and 14 percent of that budget will be allocated to managed services. The fact is, a growing number of businesses are looking for more bundled services beyond actual cloud infrastructure, creating significant opportunities for technology providers to offer expanded managed services to their customers. Technology services providers that can help clients get the most from the infrastructure and application products they offer, especially within the realm of collaboration, will have major opportunities in the coming months and years.

3. Dual Cloud Enterprises

The idea of a hybrid cloud, combining both public and private cloud services, is not a new one, but one that is going to see significant adoption in 2017. Experts predict that this year will see many companies using the services of multiple cloud providers, to maximize efficiency and security and avoid being "locked in" to a single provider.  While there are certainly challenges to this approach, most notably making it easy to access data and maintain productivity across several different clouds, business will still become less dependent on single providers.

4. Continued Focus on Security

Security will remain the most important focus of any cloud deployment. Security remains a challenge, and several experts have noted that the advancement of the cloud requires a new approach to security, one that isn't as reliant on treating the cloud as traditional outsourcing (and thus requiring information about physical locations, IP audits, and the like) and more focused on the dynamic nature of the cloud and finding new solutions for preventing breaches. Security needs to be implemented at every layer of the cloud infrastructure, and a better understanding of how to manage vulnerabilities is vital. Expect to see new approaches to security to develop in 2017, with more dynamic and responsive tools.

5. Infrastructure as a Service

Cost containment remains a major priority for many businesses, especially as the costs for cloud migration begin to add up, which is why many expect that cloud infrastructure as a service (IaaS) will see significant growth in 2017. IaaS allows for the on-demand delivery of cloud infrastructure, including servers, storage, network, and operating systems, and costs significantly less than building the same infrastructure on-site. IaaS has matured considerably and is now available in both public and private cloud configurations, and is completely customizable - for a fraction of the cost.

Because the cloud has become so dominant in the world of enterprise computing, and continues to grow, 2017 will certainly see additional cloud trends begin to take shape. For now, though, expect to see continued migration, focus on security and managed services, and new, more customizable options as the major stories in the coming months.