What are the top trends coming down the line for cloud?

4 Jun 2021

Image: © Дмитрий Майер/Stock.adobe.com

Huawei’s Dinesh Wijekoon discusses the biggest trends affecting the cloud space and the challenges going forward.

Click here to view the full Cloud Week series.

To close out our Cloud Week on Siliconrepublic.com, we wanted to look to the future and see what the main trends are within the cloud sector.

Dinesh Wijekoon is a senior software architect in the Huawei research centre in Ireland as part of the company’s site reliability engineering lab, having previously worked as a software development engineer in Amazon Web Services.

He said AI is one of the biggest trends that is coming down the line in cloud computing, although he added that it is “very much a buzzword at the moment”.

AI and cloud computing

When it comes to cloud computing, Wijekoon said AI can be divided into that which is used by external customers and that which is used by internal customers.

External use of AI includes image recognition, language processing, recommendation engines and autonomous driving vehicles. Internal customers’ use of AI includes infrastructure, failure and scaling predictions, and logistics management.

While AI has plenty of well-known benefits, Wijekoon said cloud computing enables AI to process much larger volumes of data, which is why cloud is so important.

Taking the example of autonomous driving, he said that previously, if one person had a car, it would only have data from that one vehicle to work with. “But with AI, now they are collecting every car’s data across the whole car fleet, and they apply machine learning on top of that,” he said. “If there are 100,000 cars, all 100,000 cars get better the next day.”

He said he does not believe this would be possible without the help of cloud computing. “You need a huge environment [to process data], so the cloud enables you to have special purpose computing in order to do the work for the AI.”

However, he also noted that because AI is such a buzzword in this sector, businesses that rush to use it may end up using it for the wrong things.

“AI is not a silver bullet that fixes everything,” he said. “People should find the balance of where to use it and where not to use it because it comes with a huge cost, it comes with a lot of training and it takes time.”

Hybrid clouds

Another major trend within the industry is the use of hybrid cloud computing, which Wijekoon said is becoming more popular because of the flexibility it offers.

While public or private cloud offerings can work for certain workloads, they are unlikely to work for all. Therefore, the blended nature of hybrid brings both options to the table, allowing companies to move some infrastructure to the cloud, while retaining other components on-prem.

“It’s a real market and it’s addressing the real concerns that customers had for a long time,” said Wijekoon.

He added that hybrid solutions can also help address concerns around data protection laws such as GDPR.

Cybersecurity in the cloud

Wijekoon noted that security is another major concern among customers, but it is perhaps a misunderstood area. He said the mindset many people may have had in the past when it comes to security is that if you put information somewhere like the cloud, it’s not secure.

“It needs to live in your house or in your buildings and then it’s secure, but that’s not true,” he said.

“Running your own cloud or a small rack of computers would have more security problems than [a provider] who has perfected these solutions in the cloud.”

He said that cloud service providers also have much bigger budgets to spend on strong security, which can then be distributed to customers, making it more cost effective than businesses doing it themselves.

Concerns around cybersecurity in the cloud may grow following recent global cyberattacks such as the attack on the HSE, the attack on a major US gas pipeline and this week’s ransomware attack on the world’s largest meat producer.

“All these matters are making every customer concerned,” said Wijekoon. “[However], you can provide better solutions from the cloud because if you’re a small company with 10 people, you don’t have that much engineering or knowledge to make things secure.”

Jenny Darmody is the editor of Silicon Republic