Consumer and enterprise adoption of cloud storage has exploded in recent years, as research and advisory firm Gartner estimates public spending on cloud services will close out the year up 23% from 2020, totaling $332 billion. Much of the growth has been attributed to the pandemic-led pivot to remote work, and the cloud industry is constantly finding new ways to keep up with the demand, along with growing adoption of existing methodologies. Here are five trends that are set to shake up cloud computing in 2022 and beyond:
Services like Docker or Google’s Kubernetes offer users the advent of containerized applications, which are seeing rapid increases in growth at the enterprise level. Containers bring the benefits of virtual machines, mustering the forces of a self-contained operating system to provide a seamless, predictable software performance across multiple machines. In the case of containers, applications are fully packaged with all their dependencies, yet able to run without the additional resource demands of a full VM. In a cloud setting, the portability of a container confers performance consistency across an entire organization, as well as distribution of resource usage. Users also have greater access to versioning control, tracking differences between containers and rolling back when needed.
2. Hybrid Cloud and Multi-Cloud Environments
With a private cloud, enterprises store their data on site and benefit from low latency and high data transfer speeds. With a public cloud, data is offloaded to third-party server providers, lowering infrastructure costs. Hybrid clouds are the sweet spot in-between, best suited for companies with storage demands such as large media files that require frequent access from local devices, while offloading archival media to a public cloud provider. Multi-clouds are when two public clouds are operating in tandem, offering enhanced data redundancy. These solutions are anticipated to grow 20% year-over-year, reaching a near $100 billion market size by 2022.
3. IoT: Internet of Things
In simple terms, IoT can be thought of as the growth of “smart” devices that can be assigned an IP address. Lightbulbs can integrate with a phone to automatically brighten or dim depending on the time or day. Smart watches can engage with news services to pull up headlines on your wrist. Electric cars are downloading and installing software updates. As the Internet and Television Association charts out, IoT devices are exploding in growth, exceeding 50 billion devices as of 2020 and showing no signs of slowdown.
Many of these devices engage with cloud services, offloading data and processing power to remote servers with vastly superior computing power. Growth in IoT will push a high demand on cloud computing in the coming years.
4. Edge Computing
Cloud providers are responding to the stresses of IoT devices with the innovation of edge computing. Most data centers were built to amass large quantities of information in a centralized location, the way cities bring together large populations. But half the country doesn’t live in a city, and information storage is becoming decentralized through edge computing in an effort to bring data and processing closer to home. Not only does this reduce latency, but it also brings down bandwidth usage costs and increases the reliability of connecting with data.
In the case of autonomous vehicles, where every millisecond matters and the computing demands of the vehicle’s sensory array are often offloaded, the latency associated with connecting to a server across the country renders this an untenable solution. Edge computing is poised to absorb these new demands being created by the revolution of autonomous and intelligent vehicles, giving them local access to processing power and information.
5. A Greener Cloud
The power requirements, the management of heat, and the infrastructure outlays of cloud computing carry a growing environmental impact that needs to be curbed. The Department of Energy estimates data centers account for 2% of all electrical consumption in the United States, with the typical data center having energy needs 10 to 50 times greater per floor space against the average commercial office building. In light of this, companies are offsetting their carbon footprints in a variety of ways, from adopting wind and solar power assets to planting trees. Cloud providers are in a constant push for increased efficiencies in their hardware and software, where even miniscule improvements can add up to massive long-term reductions in power consumption.
Google even implements historical weather data to preempt server farm cooling needs, while Microsoft has experimented with aquatic data centers, letting the vast ocean absorb the heat. Amazon has pledged to move its Amazon Web Services (AWS) toward a 100% renewable energy operation by 2025, announcing in 2021 the construction of 23 new wind and solar projects across the globe.
Electronic waste is another area of growing concern, as aging hardware is being discarded in the tens of millions of tons every year. With looming shortages in rare earth minerals and supply chain breakages in the production of computer hardware, the need for robust recycling of computer hardware grows by the day.
Cloud technologies are ever-evolving, and the biggest players are deploying dozens of innovative strategies to maintain their competitive edges. 2022 is going to be a big year for the industry as it strives to keep up with the exponential growth in computing demands.