Ed Anderson, Distinguished VP Analyst at Gartner,
David Ackerman, VP Analyst at Gartner,
Sid Nag, VP Analyst at Gartner &
Tao Wu, Sr Director Analyst at Gartner
Beginning in 2017 and continuing through 2018, a critical shift in the evolution of the cloud service market occurred. Organizations moved beyond experimental and low-risk use of cloud toward full, mainstream adoption. Cloud initiatives moved to the heart of the data center, and full-scale migration initiatives became common.
The introduction of cloud technologies and operating methodologies to traditional data center environments raised important new questions for organizations using cloud. Hybrid IT – the combination of cloud technologies with traditional environments – became commonplace. Every organization became a hybrid organization. And, as cloud spending increased, attention focused on cost and the efficient use of cloud resources. Risk management became a key priority, and organizations looked to multicloud and hybrid strategies to diversify their investments and reduce dependence on a single provider.
In 2018, we saw key trends taking hold, defining the cloud service marketplace and setting the stage for the key imperatives for cloud service product managers. Cloud market trends from 2018 define the cloud markets today and set the stage for the priorities that will predominate throughout 2019 and into 2020.
To stay relevant and competitive, product managers must embrace a cloud mindset that assumes an evolving, smarter customer base that is looking for both immediate and long-term benefits from cloud initiatives. From the use of cloud to rehost traditional workloads, bimodal cloud adoption patterns will increasingly evolve to a more cloud-native adoption pattern in both application architecture and operations. Multicloud and hybrid environments will predominate as organizations spread their risk and leverage the best each cloud service has to offer.
1.Cloud Adoption Has Become Mainstream
The biggest implication of mainstream cloud adoption was the elevation of cloud initiatives from back-room conversations to frontline IT and corporate strategy discussions. The mainstreaming of cloud adoption has also drawn traditional workloads into cloud, which hasn’t always resulted in a good pairing of legacy technologies with new cloud operating models.
For cloud service product manager, product roadmaps must reflect cloud-native services. Technologies must reflect the cloud-native mindset, including the embrace of core cloud capabilities: self-service, resource sharing, elasticity and scalability, standard interfaces, and metering. Cloud-native designs will include the use of containers and serverless computing models. 2019 will see accelerated use of these technologies. Cloud operations will assume elasticity and scale, fully leveraging the strengths of hyperscale platforms and cloud-based applications.
2.Bimodal Patterns of Cloud Adoption Are Increasing
Bimodal patterns of cloud adoption include the use of cloud to host traditional workloads (Mode 1) and the use of cloud as a development platform for innovating new applications (Mode 2). Leading IT service providers, including system integrators and consultancies, report a shift in the bimodal patterns. Since 2017, the mix of cloud projects has shifted from approximately 10% of cloud migration projects being focused on Mode 2 outcomes to approximately 30% focused on Mode 2 outcomes. This shift will continue as organizations seek the more strategic outcomes that cloud can deliver.
Cloud service product manager needs to engage customers in both Mode 1 and Mode 2 scenarios. Customers embracing cloud for tactical outcomes will expect expedited results. Tools and automation will help reduce the costs of cloud migration and expedite the Mode 1 outcomes. Ongoing cloud service expense management and optimization will be required to deliver cost benefits. Tools that compensate for the shortage of cloud skills will be required. For customers seeking a more innovative and strategic outcome associated with cloud, design and implement changes to magnify innovations in technology as well as business operations.
3.IT Service Providers Are Growing in Influence
The rising complexity of cloud adoption activities drives organizations to seek guidance from IT service providers. As cloud activity increases and as cloud technologies are used to support an increasingly diverse set of application requirements, organizations are turning to IT service providers that have the expertise to help design, build and run production cloud service deployments. IT service providers with strong cloud capabilities have enormous influence over cloud adoption decisions.
Therefore, even veteran managed service providers will have to rethink their concept of “managed services.” End-user organizations will look for a continual stream of innovation from managed service offerings to ensure the latest cloud technologies are supported. Furthermore, many of the cloud managed service engagements will evolve to become digital transformation initiatives, with great potential for service providers to increase revenue and profitability.
4.The Shortage of Cloud Skills Became a Key Factor in Cloud Success
The cloud marketplace is an unmitigated success. Cloud services proliferate across many use cases. However, demand for cloud capabilities has outpaced the development of cloud skills. The skills shortage crosses all functions, including development, architecture, management and operations, networking, security, data, and applications. Industry-specific requirements exacerbate the skills challenge, putting great pressure on organizations to support their cloud adoption initiatives with limited planning and operational capability. The skills challenge becomes more acute as organizations push for increased usage of cloud-enhanced solutions, such as AI, analytics, mobility, IoT and edge computing.
Technology product managers should gather requirements and organize the key issues from their customers. Work with partners to design, build and deliver cloud offerings aligned with specific vertical-industry needs. Recruit and collaborate with partners to assess the advantages and disadvantages of each solution option, including delivery. Leverage partners to compensate for the shortage of cloud skills. Collaborate with partners on go-to-market initiatives to drive an industry specific value proposition and extend the reach of cloud service offerings.
5.Multicloud Is Now the Norm
Multicloud and hybrid environments are everywhere. Hybrid IT and hybrid cloud have become the de facto model for deploying cloud services into existing environments, combining cloud services with traditional data center environments. The use of multiple technologies from both cloud and noncloud vendors became the best practice.
For cloud service product manager, multicloud is as much a philosophy as an offering. Customers need to see a commitment to multicloud strategies in product and service offerings. Multicloud is the new normal, and success will depend on the practical and demonstrable support for multicloud environments. Extending centralized cloud services to remote edge locations will further drive the need for multicloud coordination.
6.Cloud-Enhanced Services Drive Cloud Decisions
Customers are now making cloud purchase decisions based on the availability of next-generation services, including data management, analytics, artificial intelligence, edge computing, the Internet of Things, mobility and other technologies. The longer-term aspirations of organizations to embrace the innovations and disruptions of the digital world will require these next-generation, cloud-based capabilities. This is true for cloud service offerings as well as cloud-related IT services.
For cloud service product manager, cloud competencies have been enough for many providers to drive a robust business. That may no longer be the case. Providers – both cloud service providers and cloud-related IT service providers – must be able to demonstrate competencies in both cloud service offerings and the services that leverage the cloud. As customers move to cloud-native applications, they will seek the benefits of next-generation solutions and chart a course toward the business benefits of cloud-based innovations.