In light of industry news and financials reported by industry leaders at the end of last year, all indicators are pointing toward a very strong outlook for the market as we adventure into the year 2018. A majority of the cloud providers’ partner communities are planning for an accelerated growth rate in 2018. The basis for this optimism in the cloud market forecast could easily be reported financials, in which around 68% of cloud partners finished ahead of expectations for the fourth quarter; on top of that, 55% of partners reported the same in the third quarter. Partners were expected to grow 50% in 2017 and 70% in 2018. The most common reason given for the faster growth rate is, in part, that cloud vendors passed along more business through partners.
This anticipated growth is looking positive for Amazon, Microsoft, and Google, but sentiment is not quite as strong for Oracle, IBM, and Alibaba. There also seems to be a growing demand in the enterprise for VMware’s hybrid cloud solutions, especially by Amazon and, interestingly enough, IBM. Security will also be a hot topic as more companies adopt the cloud as part of their overall infrastructure.
Looking back in time, costs used to be one of the main influences on companies’ direction forward, but we may have reached an age when the focus moves away from costs and toward innovation. I believe this innovation may come in the form of agility, as companies look to innovate quickly to bring access to new services before they fall behind in their own personal digital transformation.
Hardware vendors have been working hard to come out with cheaper hyperconverged pricing models. This will play a part in changing the dynamics of return on investment (ROI) discussions, conversations, and arguments for moving to the cloud or investing in a data center refresh, making things much more interesting and challenging at the same time.
To date, Amazon has been the industry leader in the public cloud space, with Microsoft following a few steps behind but clearly still contending for the title and the bragging rights that go with it. It is worth mentioning that as more companies are jumping on the hybrid cloud bandwagon, many are also jumping on the idea of a multicloud world. As such, Microsoft Azure would appear to be the logical second cloud provider choice. For companies that are currently “all in” with Amazon AWS and are looking to develop and provide multicloud capabilities, the Google Cloud Platform is the logical second choice. Google has really stepped up its game with better functionality and service offerings. On top of that, currently the Google partner market is a lot less crowded, leaving opportunities for Google to expand and grow its partners and customer base. Demand and interest in Oracle IaaS and PaaS appear to be wavering some, except for the current base of customers with a large installed base of their software. IBM Cloud is currently struggling with the same downward trend in interest and demand, but VMware’s hybrid cloud offering for IBM has the potential to be a bright spot for IBM.
I thought it would also be worth mentioning the most in-demand technical skills based on a LinkedIn blog post. According to LinkedIn, the most in-demand skills that will be needed in 2018 are as follows:
- Cloud and Distributed Computing
- Statistical Analysis and Data Mining
- Middleware and Integration Software
- Web Architecture and Development Framework
- User Interface Design
- Software Revision Control Systems
- Data Presentation
- SEO/SEM Marketing
- Mobile Development
- Network and Information Security
In closing, it appears the state of our cloud world was in great shape at the end of 2017, and all the indicators are pointing to a growth-oriented 2018 for both partners and customers. We should also see a continued move toward a more hybrid world, and that hybridization will continue to morph from mono-hybrid to multi-hybrid cloud environments. As the enterprise continues to evolve, the LinkedIn list of the most in-demand skill sets needed for 2018, in my opinion, appears to be pretty much right on the money. However, I believe that “Network and Information Security” should be higher on the list than it is. It has been one of the areas that constantly gets shortchanged until some kind of event brings the importance of security to the forefront. In the meanwhile, that should give you some insight on what I believe is the cloud market forecast for 2018.