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Gartner’s recent Top Strategic Technology Trends for 2021 report highlighted the cloud as a key trend for the upcoming year. Here we’re taking a closer look at exactly what the proliferation of cloud computing means for business in 2021, and how it will play out as part of the unfolding digital transformation.

Mass migration

A 2010 pandemic would have played out very differently to the 2020 model. A majority of the workforce would have been unable to work, confined at home with no access to essential software, data and resources. Adaptation would have been nigh-on impossible for most businesses, and with this, most services would have been paused throughout the shielding period. The deadened workforce would drown in banana bread.

The switch to remote working and ongoing access to services comes largely thanks to our advanced cloud infrastructure. Companies in 2020 who had underinvested in cloud services or failed to make the switch altogether were caught out, while those teed up could hit the ground running.

This surge is of course a real shot in the arm for cloud providers, who were flourishing even before the pandemic. Forrester’s 2019 predictions forecast that cloud computing would grow 28% to $113.1 billion in 2021. Due to the pandemic’s leg-up, they’ve now revised those figures upwards to $120 billion.

Virtual cloud desktops are a growing trend that play into the thirst for remote working solutions. Desktop-as-a-service hosts entire workstations in the cloud, charging employers by the hour for time used. Arranging remote desks in this way negates the need for hardware updates, ensures all employees are using the same technology and increases security by providing a single centralised network. 

Levelling the playing field

Cloud’s central advantage has been enabling remote working, but no less revolutionising is the capacity for cloud-based as-a-service platforms. This model levels the playing field between businesses by providing bootstrapped start-ups access to technologies previously beyond their reach. This will become increasingly pertinent in the following years, as machine learning, language processing and computer vision tools advance company outputs like never before.

The major cloud providers have previously fenced off their services with a view to keeping customers within their own ‘services ecosystem’. However, industry’s increasingly cloud-based technology will drive a requirement for integration between providers. While the current business models of cloud computing providers are based around ring-fencing customers in, these companies will need to consider creating access channels between their platforms, or having this service catered to by startups. Gartner predicts that by 2021, over 75% of mid- and large-size organisations will have taken up a multicloud or hybrid IT strategy.