5 game-changers coming to cloud in 2017

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game-changers cloud 2017As 2016 winds down, let’s reflect on some age-old annual traditions. I’m not talking about trimming the tree or grandma’s holiday eggnog. ‘Tis the season for business predictions, when analysts, columnists and your boss tease out the trends destined to impact the way we work.

There’s no shortage of opinions on where cloud computing is headed in 2017. But I see five gargantuan cloud trends right around the corner, the game-changers that companies cannot avoid. And there’s no question:  IBM Cloud uniquely addresses the challenges and opportunities they create.

Trend 1: Dude, where’s my data?

According to an IDG survey, the majority of IT infrastructures will be based entirely in the cloud in the next year and a half. That’s incredible. The efficiencies and opportunities the cloud brings are undeniable.

But take a look at the roadblocks: 43 percent of survey respondents have concerns about where data is stored, 41 percent cite data security and privacy issues.

It is critical to put businesses in control of their own data, workloads and services. You own your data. You shouldn’t have to pay to move it when your business needs change and you have to migrate across continents. You definitely shouldn’t be concerned about the security of your customers’ data sitting on the public cloud.

Trend 2: It’s your business; it’s your cloud

According to the same IDG survey, 21 percent are worried about vendor lock-in, which is understandable. The big public cloud providers offer one-size-fits-all cloud models that can orphan back-end systems or even require complete rewriting of critical business applications. Once you’re on their proprietary systems, it can be expensive — if not completely cost prohibitive — to move your workloads and data off their cloud.

Take a look at this ZDNET story detailing how American Airlines is migrating to the cloud and using IBM Bluemix to develop new services and business models. IBM and American are partnering to build cloud-based applications that solve specific problems unique to their business, workloads and data. It’s a cloud strategy shaped around American’s unique business model, not its public cloud provider’s.

Trend 3: The cognitive cloud changes everything

There’s huge opportunity to build cognitive capabilities into your cloud. Adding cognitive delivers machine-learning-based tools and features, smarter analytics, and new cognitive apps your customers will love. It’s the cognitive era, and it starts with your cloud strategy.

Here’s the problem. You don’t have a decade to make your cloud smarter. Your customers are ready. So are your competitors. You should be, too.

Take a look around at your options. Other cloud providers give you nameless, faceless and untested AI. IBM Watson offers proven cognitive capabilities that clients can trust and train with their data. We offer the most comprehensive and accessible cognitive capabilities for companies to build into their own apps. Check out how our partner Westfield is delivering the promise of the cognitive era through IBM Watson.

Trend 4:  Cloud Internet of Things

You’ve been hearing about the promise of Internet of Things (IoT) for years. Even your toaster needs your Wi-Fi password. But in 2017, IoT is less about the billions of “things” and far more about the macro analytics they can deliver to your business. A mountain of IoT data is worthless if you can’t turn it into insights and value.

The cloud is uniquely suited to address the scale and sprawl of IoT data. As IoT data grows by orders of magnitude, you need to address storage and compute needs. Any public cloud provider can deliver storage and compute, but you also need the tools to harvest value from that growing haystack. In 2017, your IoT strategy will need cognitive capabilities, automated workflows and integration tools that tie applications and clouds together. Then you can use the insights to build new experiences for clients like BMW aims to do.

Trend 5:  Hybrid cloud takes over

For most companies, the optimal cloud strategy is a hybrid approach. Not only can you harness the public cloud’s low-cost storage and app hosting, even at massive scales, but you can also use your local, private cloud to protect and use whatever data, processes, workflows and applications are important to you.

The public cloud cannot deliver the features that connect a company’s back-end systems and front-end applications. Why let your cloud provider decide how you run your IT department? You need flexibility and control across your public and private clouds.

Check out why Bernhardt Furniture Company turned to IBM to deliver new mobile applications to production in 10 weeks, boosting sales by 20 percent all while continuing to use existing back-end processes and workflows.

So how did I do? What trends do you see impacting your path to the cloud in 2017?

Weigh in with your thoughts by tweeting @IBMCloud or leave a comment below. Your feedback could become the focus of my next blog post. Happy holidays. Enjoy grandma’s eggnog. I sincerely hope you and your loved ones have a wonderful 2017.

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