The cloud has become the backbone of modern IT, with Gartner predicting 95% of new workloads in the cloud by 2025. Businesses must adapt to leverage the cloud's flexibility and cost-efficiency. Cloud services infrastructure spending will surpass $1T globally in 2024. This expansion is driven by several cloud computing trends, including demand for new platforms and as-a-service offerings, particularly those powered by artificial intelligence. Businesses increasingly recognize the cloud as a cost-saving measure and a strategic weapon for unlocking innovation, boosting agility, and achieving success across industries.
8 cloud computing trends to watch in 2024
A clear understanding of cloud computing trends that will drive the industry in 2024 will prepare you to adapt and innovate in constant change. These trends range from the adoption of hybrid and multi-cloud approaches to the integration of edge computing, the emergence of real-time cloud infrastructure, and the critical focus on cloud security. Additionally, industry cloud platforms (ICPs), FinOps practices, sustainability initiatives, and the rise of GenAI supporting infrastructure are transforming the cloud landscape. According to Deloitte’s survey, cloud investments can positively impact business operations, from core risk mitigation to generating new revenue streams and supporting sustainability goals.
Let’s explore the cloud technologies and areas expected to drive positive outcomes in 2024.
Rise of GenAI supporting infrastructure
According to David Linthicum of Deloitte, the cloud is poised to play a pivotal role in democratizing AI and unlocking its economic and social potential. Massive AI models, like the one powering ChatGPT, require vast data and computing resources, which are inaccessible to most businesses. However, cloud platforms are stepping in, offering AI-as-a-service and bringing this transformative technology within reach.
This cloud computing trend is driven by the rise of GenAI in the cloud and beyond. Businesses are transitioning from proof-of-concept to production systems, and 2024 will see them building the infrastructure to support this shift. This includes net-new AI applications and existing ones infused with AI capabilities across diverse platforms—public clouds, data centers, edge computing, and mobile devices.
However, supporting GenAI's rise requires significant infrastructure adjustments. Sizing systems for GenAI involves scaling database storage for training data and accommodating structured and unstructured formats. Combining data before training often proves more efficient, and cloud platforms are likely to be the preferred battleground with their easy provisioning and scaling capabilities.
Additionally, GenAI demands different computing needs. GPUs, crucial for AI processing, are in high demand and often allocated. Traditional CPUs still play a role, though, and for many enterprises, specialized cloud services may be the easiest path to GenAI adoption. This AI boom will drive explosive growth for cloud providers in 2024. However, traditional computing and storage platforms won't be left behind. Many businesses, prioritizing security and cost-efficiency, may keep their productive AI systems on-premises. Ultimately, this rising tide of AI will lift all ships, benefiting both cloud and on-premises solutions.
Read more: Generative AI use cases and applications
According to the IDC poll, two-thirds of CIOs have acknowledged that their cloud expenditures have exceeded initial budget allocations. Since cloud spending constitutes a significant portion of organizations' IT budgets, the efficient and optimized utilization of cloud resources has become a top priority for C-suite executives. This has led to the emergence of FinOps, characterized as a framework, culture, and mindset aimed at maximizing the value derived from cloud investments, with a primary focus on optimizing cloud costs. Key drivers of the rise of FinOps in cloud computing in 2024 include:
- Macroeconomic pressures: Concerns about recession and inflation incentivize businesses to seek efficiency in cloud spending.
- Cloud waste: Unsustainable spending and lack of cost transparency drive the need for better cloud cost management.
- Lack of insights: Complex and dynamic cloud resource use necessitates better data and best practices for optimization.
- Need for better planning and forecasting: Rising cloud costs and dynamic demand for cloud resources require improved budgeting and forecasting.
Approximately 52% of European organizations are adopting FinOps, with many still in the early stages. IDC predicts that 70% of Global 1000 companies will increase FinOps maturity by the end of 2024.
Hybrid and multi-cloud adoption
A key cloud computing trend in 2024 is a shift towards ubiquitous computing: moving beyond the singular public cloud paradigm to leverage the most optimal platform for each workload and data type. According to Deloitte, this evolution builds on the multi-cloud movement but expands the possibilities even further.
Shifting the focus beyond public clouds: Public clouds dominated computing for years. Yet, a new trend is emerging: ubiquitous and heterogeneous computing. Businesses are moving beyond singular platforms, instead considering all options and strategically placing workloads and data where they benefit the most. This includes leveraging multi-cloud environments, edge computing, on-premises infrastructure, and even industry-specific "microclouds."
Drivers and impacts: The shift beyond public clouds is fueled by falling hardware costs, high public cloud prices, and the quest for optimal performance and efficiency. In 2024, we'll see this materialize in repatriating some workloads to traditional data centers and embracing non-cloud platforms like mobile and edge computing. While this sacrifices some public cloud benefits, it allows businesses to maximize cost-effectiveness and leverage resources wherever they reside.
This trend signifies a more nuanced and decentralized future of computing, where businesses gain greater control, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness in managing their data and workloads.
Edge computing integration
In 2024, the cloud's dominance as the sole computing environment will loosen as businesses look beyond centralized data centers and embrace a diverse ecosystem of resources. Lower hardware costs and the emergence of high-speed networks like 5G are empowering platforms like mobile and edge computing. This shift isn't about shunning the cloud but exploiting each data stream's most cost-effective and efficient option. Imagine sensors in factories, smart cameras in cities, and even wearables on our bodies processing data in real-time, reducing reliance on the cloud and unlocking robust, localized control. Even large venues and enterprises join the party, deploying edge servers to deliver content and manage data within their physical boundaries without relying on distant backhaul links. This rise of ubiquitous access and resources, both within and outside the cloud, signifies a new era of distributed computing, where businesses can truly leverage the power of data wherever it resides.
Real-time cloud infrastructure
Real-time cloud architecture is expected to be one of the prominent cloud computing trends in 2024. Businesses are no longer content with waiting for insights—they crave real-time data processing and action. This shift mirrors how we consume information and entertainment, embracing streaming services like Netflix and Spotify for their instant gratification. To keep pace, cloud technology needs to evolve, too.
Enter real-time cloud infrastructure: a revolutionary architecture designed for dynamic, immediate access to resources and services. This is achieved through a powerful combination of technologies:
- Serverless computing: Eliminates server management, allowing your code to run instantly upon the trigger, perfect for real-time processing.
- Edge computing: Brings data processing closer to the source, reducing latency and bandwidth usage for time-sensitive applications.
- Flash and solid-state storage: Delivers unparalleled data access speeds, empowering real-time analysis and decision-making.
Real-time cloud architecture offers several advantages: dynamic scaling to handle fluctuating data loads, immediate responses for enhanced client service, and swift decision-making powered by real-time insights. This empowers organizations to embrace innovation, streamline operations through digitizing essential systems, and potentially gain efficiency and resource savings. For instance, it can enable early anomaly detection in critical sectors like transportation, leading to increased safety and accelerated technology adoption.
The increasing adoption of cloud computing brings significant benefits and amplifies existing security risks. In 2024, three critical measures will mitigate these risks and ensure continued trust in the cloud: data encryption, robust authentication protocols, and comprehensive disaster recovery plans.
Data encryption: In an era of escalating cyber threats, data encryption safeguards sensitive information stored in the cloud. By converting data into an unreadable format, unauthorized parties are effectively locked out, even if they gain access to cloud storage systems. As sophisticated hacking techniques emerge, advanced encryption algorithms, including those resistant to potential quantum computing threats, will be increasingly sought after.
Authentication: While encryption protects data at rest, robust authentication mechanisms control access to cloud resources. Multi-factor authentication (MFA) will become the new standard, moving beyond traditional password-based verification to leverage additional factors such as biometric verification, voice recognition, and user behavior analysis. This layered approach substantially reduces the risk of successful social engineering or brute-force attacks.
Disaster recovery: Even with robust security measures, unforeseen events like natural disasters or hardware malfunctions can disrupt cloud operations. Disaster recovery plans provide a crucial safety net, ensuring business continuity and data protection. Geographically dispersed cloud infrastructure, automated data replication, and seamless failover systems will be essential for minimizing downtime and data loss.
Recognizing that cloud security is not solely cloud providers' responsibility is essential. Businesses must actively engage in security best practices, including conducting regular vulnerability assessments, implementing employee training programs, and staying informed about the latest threats and mitigation strategies. Collaboration and transparency between cloud providers and their customers will build trust and foster a secure cloud ecosystem.
Industry cloud platforms
Industry cloud platforms (ICPs) are rapidly redefining the cloud landscape, with Gartner predicting a surge in adoption from less than 15% in 2023 to over 70% by 2027. This exponential growth underscores ICPs' potential to accelerate business initiatives by addressing industry-specific needs with unparalleled precision. ICPs transcend mere cloud infrastructure (IaaS), platform services (PaaS), and software-as-a-service (SaaS) offerings. They seamlessly integrate these elements into a unified platform tailored to different industries.
By leveraging the composable approach of ICPs, technology, and IT leaders can craft a unique, differentiating proposition that resonates with their customers and partners, ultimately setting their organization apart in the competitive landscape.
A Gartner survey of North American and European enterprises reveals significant interest in Industry cloud platforms (ICPs): close to 39% have already begun adoption, 14% are in pilot stages, and approximately 17% are exploring potential deployment by 2026. These findings suggest that ICPs are gaining traction amongst organizations, with awareness translating into concrete adoption steps or future deployment plans.
Gartner predicts that ICPs will evolve into "ecosystem clouds," where enterprises can collaborate and participate in shared business processes like procurement, distribution, payment processing, and potentially even R&D and innovation. Such collaborative ecosystems could offer significant new opportunities for businesses across industries.
Keeping the cloud sustainable
The drive towards sustainability remains a top contender among cloud computing trends in 2024, with an increasing focus on eco-friendly cloud solutions. All major cloud service providers have committed to achieving net-zero emissions, extending these goals to their operations and assisting their customers in reducing their carbon footprint. Amazon, for instance, has set a target to achieve zero emissions by 2040, while Microsoft is striving to achieve this goal a decade earlier. In addition to their emission reduction commitments, Amazon, Microsoft, and Google have all articulated their intent to derive 100 percent of their operational energy from renewable sources. While reaching environmental goals might be a work in progress, the trend toward environmentally responsible and sustainable cloud computing is expected to gain significant momentum in 2024.
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Cloud-powered technologies like AI, ML, and IoT can significantly accelerate and catalyze the decarbonization process. Cloud technologies can reduce the cost and time required to implement various decarbonization initiatives by 2-10%. These technologies can decrease up to 32 metric gigatons of CO2 equivalent (GtCO2e) by 2050 (about half of what's needed to reach net zero by 2050). Manufacturing and transportation stand to benefit the most from cloud-powered decarbonization solutions.
2024 promises to be a year of transformative progress for cloud computing. The eight trends explored here showcase an industry embracing flexibility, efficiency, and innovation. From the diverse ecosystem of hybrid and edge computing to the democratization of AI through GenAI-ready infrastructure, these advancements offer businesses opportunities to optimize operations, unlock new potential, and navigate the increasingly dynamic landscape of data and technology. By adopting these trends and adapting their strategies accordingly, businesses can weather the changes and thrive in the dynamic cloud-powered future.