As the planet continues to adapt to changes in response to the global health pandemic, unprecedented change continues to unfold.
How it started: COVID launched accelerated adoption of cloud-based services across all sectors. In short, as social distancing guidelines emerged in response to the pandemic cloud became the way of the world. If your business wasn’t cloud-based, you very quickly found a way to deliver products and services online because cloud adoption was synonymous with business continuity.
Connectivity and infrastructure saw major investments – from 5G to SpaceX’s Starlink that recently surpassed 1200 satellites with an aim to bridge the digital divide for harder to reach rural areas.
The world quickly ramped up:
– Healthcare/telehealth/tech apps
– Online education
– Video streaming services
In many instances, solutions were built for interim use with the intent that we’d all return to business as usual after a few weeks. Months later, enterprises are working to ensure reliability, security, and performance for longer term delivery. And, cloud adoption is here to stay, with workloads beginning to shift out to the hybrid models.
How it’s going: We’re living in the new norm. Industries are innovating across the board and demand for cloud-based services and products continues to grow. Enterprises are adopting hybrid and multi-cloud strategies to ensure workloads are distributed in ways that meet performance, security, and cost needs. The solutions are growing in complexity, but service offerings are evolving to streamline and automate. Infrastructure investment in subsea, fiber, 5G, and satellites continues to ensure applications to connect, collaborate, and deliver content are available wherever they are needed.
Previous year forecasts for hybrid cloud workload distribution were completely altered in 2020 as businesses move forward with cloud migration.
451 Research Primary Workload Deployment Forecast
Hybrid and multi-cloud strategies continue to gain in adoption in the commercial sector. It’s likely that hybrid cloud workload distributions that began as a makeup of on-prem, colocation, private cloud, and public cloud workload distribution will expand to include edge (5G) and alternative (satellite) workloads. But, much like the cloud didn’t eat the data center, these technologies will be complimentary to the mix and expand areas of opportunity for further IoT and innovation. They’ll drive more point-to-point access and increased demand by including more places and people into the mix. It’s the same reason PlayStation launches consoles for tomorrow’s game developers. If you build it, they will come.
Observability and interoperability This past year has changed previous analyst predictions on where, when, and how workloads were going to distribute within the hybrid mix. The interoperability of workloads remains important. Workloads need to be able to transport from on-prem to data center, from cloud to cloud as needed. What is increasingly important as hybrid strategies are embraced is the ability to have complete visibility of your entire IT ecosystem. Metrics using telemetry data to map components. Traces to track system health and availability. And logging to track events. From a single console. Ideally vendor agnostic. Definitely secure.
Security and business continuity is top of mind for every enterprise. Pre-COVID, security and business continuity were initiatives many organizations were considering “ down the road”. Recent high-profile events are continuing to drive demand for ensuring workloads that support distributed teams are protected long term. Whether it’s moving to purpose-built data centers to ensure power, uptime and connectivity, or adopting business continuity strategies that include regional and energy grid redundancy, organizations are making the investments to ensure uptime. And with organizations no longer operating from a centralized location, ensuring compliance requirements continue to be met across distributed workloads will continue to be important as more organizations settle into the new cloud-based norm.
EV and modernization across the auto industry impacts both infrastructure and data growth. What started as just Tesla has expanded to every car manufacturer adopting new technologies at an accelerated rate. In-vehicle computer systems, added cameras, and integrated IoT traffic solutions are gaining adoption by all manufacturers. Granted, Tesla is still crazy far ahead of the competition. ?
Online retail is gaining in adoption. In 2020, 77% of the population made at least one online purchase. E-commerce currently equates to just 14.5% of retail sales. With the infrastructure investments in connectivity, investments in e-commerce software, and improving buyer experience, this is just the start.
Chip supply has quickly impacted sectors across the board globally. Turns out, chips are the fabric of our digital, and analog, lives. In response to COVID-19, demand for EFH (Everything from Home) and upgrades to the devices that bridged connectivity to the outside world resulted in un-forecasted demand for smartphones, TV’s, computers, gaming consoles, cars, and medical equipment. The result was a shortage in the global chip supply. This awareness for the dependencies in the supply chain has sparked interest to ensure delivery of the super tiny, very advanced chips that are important components in those devices. It also caused some manufactures to halt production by up to 20% in Q1 of 2021.
Going forward, demand will continue to increase. 5G, IoT, more endpoints, growth in devices and connectivity. And, when it comes to the auto industry, we’re at the front end of modernization and innovative new technologies that improve the driver experience. Cars are quickly becoming small data centers on wheels. Additionally, the adoption by manufacturers to move towards electric vehicles has the potential to double the chip need.
Social CTA has seen a huge uptick this past year that has resulted in unprecedented calls to action. Whether its worldwide protests organized via social media, or retail investor market demand that originates from reddit. Whether a social CTAs with trend is impossible to predict but can ultimately carry huge impact. It’s unclear how this will unfold going forward, but likely will continue to be on the radar.
Grid and network stability have been given a seat at the table this past year. Understanding the dependencies within grid and network is key to ensuring long term availability, reliability, and security. High profile weather and widespread outages have raised awareness for long term power and connectivity supply stability. Going forward – at least in the near term – we’ll likely see site selection criteria weigh these components heavier than previously.
New Administration changes drive market demand. When the largest buyer in the nation makes public statements on their initiatives, industries take note because these are changes will eventually make their way to the commercial sector either as direct procurement or user market transformation. The newest administration is no different.
Initiatives that continue to be addressed in either Executive Order or press conferences include:
Small business, women-owned business, and diversity and inclusion continue to be top initiatives of the new administration. Workforce training programs like JobCorps will see increased investment as the nation looks to meet labor changes. Initiatives like STEM/STEAM and #womenintech will increase in outreach activities along with programs geared toward eliminating generational poverty. Procurement guidelines are expected to see changes including increased subcontracting opportunities for small, disadvantaged businesses (SDBs).
Sustainability was addressed within days of the new administration, starting with the US rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement and a goal of making the U.S. carbon neutral by 2050. Additionally, an Executive Order to move to EVs across the US fleet was announced. And the call for creating new jobs in clean energy continues to echo. PUE and renewables were previously included in agency data center site selection. More green IT solutions would be on brand with the administration’s focus on sustainability. Subsequent initiatives that flow out of building design standards and building retrofit guidelines would also be consistent.
Technology and cybersecurity received direct mention or the first time with the new administration’s proposed budget. Biden called for $9B in IT investment in the Technology Modernization Fund as an urgent national security issue. High profile events like SolarWinds breach that targeted at least 9 federal agencies have also increased scrutiny on security and dependencies.
Chip shortage has been directly addressed by the administration which was stated in press conferences they are taking a proactive response to ensure the supply chain as it pertains to how national and economic delivers long term reliability. Currently the US represents an estimated 47% of chip sales and 12% of manufacturing.
Supply chain and system dependencies have been impacted by nearly every organization this past year, in one way or another. Whether you had to spend significant amounts of time to find hand sanitizer, or whether you’re a car manufacturer halting production until chips are secured, the awareness of who supplies the supplier has become real. As we move forward, the value of strong partnerships, established and secure supply chain relationships is increasingly important and will likely stay top of mind. During the historic winter storm in Texas that left millions without power, who wasn’t familiar with the image of the LMP Contour Map? (Or was that just me?)
Sustainability isn’t just a New Administration initiative. For cloud and connectivity, this past year has seen a huge push by providers to build sustainable solutions. From renewable energy and green power purchase plans, to data center design and right-sized workloads on ENERGY STAR equipment. With the migration of brick-and-mortar businesses to online, and insights into data center power usage, corporate social responsibility is growing to include the way the enterprise uses the cloud.
Annnnnnd…that just about covers it. We’re at an exciting time for innovation and connectivity, building the internet superhighway of tomorrow via space, power, and cooling. And….with great power comes great responsibility. Build responsibly.