Editor's note: The following is a guest article from Oussama El-Hilali, CTO at Arcserve.
Ten years ago, a cloud-born application was out of reach. The cloud was traditionally used to store copies of data, applications and workloads in case of unforeseen downtime so IT teams could feel confident their data is protected and accessible in minutes.
But, cloud isn't just reserved for backups anymore – it has grown in popularity, largely due to its flexibility, scalability and ease of use. It's become the norm for a company to keep at least some of their business-critical systems, applications and workloads in the cloud.
As digital transformation accelerates, more applications are becoming cloud native, which presents a unique set of challenges that IT leaders need to address in the next phase of cloud adoption.
Where the cloud stands in 2020
Today, the cloud is used in almost every industry, but its rapid growth has created a skills gap between what IT professionals already know and what they need to learn to successfully manage a cloud environment.
IT teams must understand the differences between public and private clouds, as many businesses have been surprised to find public cloud subscriptions charge fees to move, access or recover data.
Many still invest in this route, as it provides them with flexibility in terms of where data is stored, which can help maintain compliance with major data privacy regulations such as GDPR.
Private clouds, on the other hand, are more predictable cost-wise, but are often on-premise or provided by a hosted private cloud provider with its own data center; organizations risk losing data if catastrophe strikes.
Understanding these nuances is especially important as businesses look to hybrid and multicloud more often. Hybrid cloud combines on-premises and cloud services for versatile disaster recovery, offering organizations a mix of public and private clouds to store their data.
Multicloud strategies deploy multiple clouds, adding another layer of protection, but also increasing IT complexity.
Business leaders are currently tasked with ensuring their teams have thorough training on the on-premises hardware and clouds they choose to deploy. It's a time-intensive task, but it's important now for IT teams to develop intimate knowledge of each offering to prevent security gaps, misconfigurations and data loss.
Even with the proper training, the cloud is still at risk for security incidents, particularly as IT teams are still growing their knowledge of cloud environments. Cybercriminals are taking advantage of this, and targeting cloud-based applications, where the feel they can make the biggest impact.
These security concerns speak to the need for backup providers to support a wider range of SaaS applications; however, universal implementation of SaaS backup is a challenge. Many don't understand the need for third-party backup and fail to use it – for example, 92% of Microsoft Office 365 users don't back up their data, leaving it vulnerable to data loss from IT outages or cyberattacks.
Cloud adoption has also enabled faster recovery from IT outages, with organizations able to spin up copies of their cloud-backed workloads in seconds to minimize downtime. As a result, consumers have higher expectations for availability, making it a requirement for businesses to be "always on."
What's next with the cloud?
Gartner is predicting a cloud-first shift across key enterprise markets will increase to 28% by 2022, and while the potential uses and benefits of the cloud have grown exponentially, it still has some maturing to do.
For the cloud to become an integral part of every organization's strategy, IT pros will have to tackle the complexity of deploying a hybrid and multicloud infrastructure. They'll also have to give more consideration to cloud security and minimizing downtime, especially as major hyperscalers like Microsoft, Google and Amazon refine their cloud computing technologies.
As businesses adopt hybrid and multicloud to improve their resiliency, there are several areas with potential for additional services to be built into and around the cloud.
For example, the disaster recovery-as-a-service market will continue to grow, as consumers become intolerant of outages and downtime, and businesses want to create distance between primary and secondary data.
Cloud data management will also become more sought-after, especially as IT leaders are tasked to do more with backups. However, the definition of this phrase needs to be made clearer to more accurately describe what's being offered customers.
Many analysts have started to discuss this, but clarification is needed to identify what the true benefits are to end users.
While the cloud has experienced rapid growth over the past 10 years, we're nowhere near the peak of its capabilities. In the next decade, we can expect to see the traditional IT infrastructure changed by innovations in cloud and beyond.