The ongoing mass adoption of cloud computing has been a key driver of many of the most transformative tech trends, including artificial intelligence (AI), the internet of things (IoT), and remote and hybrid working. Going forward, we can expect to see it becoming an enabler of even more technologies, including virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR), the metaverse, cloud gaming, and even quantum computing.
Cloud computing makes this possible by removing the need to invest in buying and owning the expensive infrastructure required for these intensive computing applications. Instead, cloud service providers make it available "as-a-service," running on their own servers and data centers. It also means companies can, to some extent, avoid the hassle of hiring or training a highly specialized workforce if they want to take advantage of these breakthrough technologies.
In 2023 we can expect to see companies continuing to leverage cloud services in order to access new and innovative technologies as well as drive efficiencies in their own operations and processes. Here’s a rundown of some of the trends that I believe will have the most impact.
Increased investment in cloud security and resilience
Migrating to the cloud brings huge opportunities, efficiencies, and convenience but also exposes companies and organizations to a new range of cybersecurity threats. On top of this, the growing pile of legislation around how businesses can store and use personal data means that the risk of fines or (even worse) losing the trust of their customers is a real problem.
As a result, spending on cyber security and building resilience against everything from data loss to the impact of a pandemic on global business will become even more of a priority during the coming year. However, as many companies look to cut costs in the face of a forecasted economic recession, the emphasis is likely to be on the search for innovative and cost-efficient ways of maintaining cyber security in order to get the most "bang for the buck." This will mean greater use of AI and predictive technology designed to spot threats before they cause problems, as well as an increase in the use of managed “security-as-a-service” providers in 2023.
Multi-cloud is an increasingly popular strategy
If 2022 was the year of hybrid cloud, then 2023 could be the year that businesses come to understand the advantages of diversifying their services across a number of cloud providers. This is a strategy known as taking a multi-cloud approach, and it offers a number of advantages, including improved flexibility and security.
It also prevents organizations from becoming too tied in to one particular ecosystem - a situation that can create challenges when cloud service providers change the applications they support or stop supporting particular applications altogether. And it helps to create redundancy that reduces the chance of system errors or downtime from causing a critical failure of business operations.
Adopting a multi-cloud infrastructure means moving away from potentially damaging business strategies such as building applications and processes solely around one particular cloud platform, e.g., AWS, Google Cloud, or Microsoft Azure. The growing popularity of containerized applications means that in the event of changes to service levels, or more cost-efficient solutions becoming available from different providers, applications can be quickly ported across to new platforms. While back in 2020, most companies (70 percent) said they were still tied to one cloud service provider, reports have found that 84% of mid-to-large companies will have adopted a multi-cloud strategy by 2023, positioning it as one of the year’s defining trends in cloud computing.
The AI and ML-powered cloud
Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are provided as cloud services because few businesses have the resources to build their own AI infrastructure. Gathering data and training algorithms require huge amounts of computing power and storage space that is generally more cost-efficient to rent as-a-service. Cloud service providers are increasingly relying on AI themselves for a number of tasks. This includes managing the vast, distributed networks needed to provide storage resources to their customers, regulating the power and cooling systems in data centers, and powering cyber security solutions that keep their data safe. In 2023, we can expect to see continued innovation in this field as hyper scale cloud service providers like Amazon, Google, and Microsoft continue to apply their own AI technology to create more efficient and cost-effective cloud services for their customers.
Low-code and no-code cloud services
Tools and platforms that allow anybody to create applications and to use data to solve problems without getting their hands dirty with writing computer code are increasingly popular. This category of low-code and no-code solutions includes tools for building websites, web applications and designing just about any kind of digital solutions that companies may need. Low-code and no-code solutions are even becoming available for creating AI-powered applications, drastically lowering the barriers to entry for companies wanting to leverage AI and ML. Many of these services are provided via the cloud – meaning users can access them as-a-service without having to own the powerful computing infrastructure needed to run them themselves. Tools like Figma, Airtable, and Zoho allow users to carry out tasks that previously would have required coding experience, such as designing websites, automating spreadsheet tasks, and building web applications, and I see providing services like this as an area where cloud technology will become increasingly useful in 2023 and beyond.
Innovation and consolidation in cloud gaming
The cloud has brought us streaming services like Netflix and Spotify, which have revolutionized the way we consume movies, TV, and music. Streaming video gaming is taking a little longer to gain a foothold but is clearly on its way, with Microsoft, Sony, Nvidia, and Amazon all offering services in this field. It hasn’t all been plain sailing, however – Google spent millions of dollars developing their Stadia streaming gaming service only to retire it this year due to lack of commercial success. One of the problems is the networks themselves – streaming video games clearly requires higher bandwidth than music or videos, meaning it's restricted to those of us with good quality high-speed internet access, which is still far from all of us. However, the ongoing rollout of 5G and other ultra-fast networking technologies should eventually solve this problem, and 2023 could be the year that cloud gaming will make an impact. Google themselves have said that the technology itself that powers Stadia will live on as the backbone of an in-development B2B game streaming service that will allow game developers to provide streaming functionality directly to their customers. If, as many predict, cloud gaming will become the “killer app” for 5G in the same way that streaming video was for 4G and streaming music was for 3G, then 2023 could be the year when we start to see things fall into place.