From a small revolution at first, cloud computing has in recent years evolved into a key strategic development driver not only for businesses but also for governments — in short, for society at large. By 2025, IDC predicts that Southeast Asia’s cloud computing market in expected to reach US$40.32 billion, a reflection of the increasing role cloud computing is expected to play in our daily lives.

Whether with the launch of new players or the emergence of the first open source cloud platform, the past decade has been marked by outstanding innovations that have forever transformed the use of IT, both by and for businesses. The core of these innovations has been data, the new black gold without which future innovations would be compromised. 2020 heralds the start of a new era in which businesses intend to play a more instrumental role in the cloud offering at hand, including business models, in order to always make the most of their data. Even though it is difficult if not impossible to imagine what the next decade will be like, we can, however, anticipate some trends for 2020.

Hybrid cloud will continue to appeal to businesses…

Business appetite for hybrid cloud has grown significantly in 2019. The challenges faced by businesses in terms of new skills, new application needs, legacy IT management etc. are constantly increasing as businesses realize that cloud computing is no panacea. What is at stake is the significant cost associated with the extensive use of public cloud services and the ever more critical need for data control and security. Against this backdrop, businesses are turning away from exclusive public cloud offerings to move part of their data back to a private cloud. On the other hand, they are abandoning on-premises cloud computing in favor of a hosted private cloud service that combines the best of both worlds - greater cost control and a higher level of security, all with the elasticity and scalability of the cloud.

According to the Nutanix Cloud Enterprise Index, 92 percent of IT decision-makers say this type of infrastructure best meets their needs. The same report also revealed that Singapore is the leading nation in terms of hybrid cloud adoption because of the country’s superior connectivity, in turn providing organizations based here a solid foundation to capitalize on such a technology and remain competitive in our digital economy.

…and prefigures the advent of multi-cloud

Following in the footsteps of hybrid cloud but going one step further, there comes multi-cloud - a combination of cloud environments ranging from on-premises cloud to hosted private cloud to public cloud, each dedicated to different use cases. Given that no single cloud today can competitively provide for all solutions, the most mature businesses find in multi-cloud the promise of excellence - selecting the best solutions from the entire cloud offering available to build a single application environment, in which all components are interdependent.

A business can choose to host its database with one provider, turn to another provider for its compute needs, store its data in yet another location, and orchestrate everything in a multi-cloud architecture. As applications become less and less monolithic and their components communicate in an increasingly standardized way, it is a safe bet that multi-cloud has a bright future ahead of it.

Security will remain a strategic issue

Previously, data security solutions focused on storage or networking capabilities. For example, if you wanted to store encryption keys securely, you had to rely on an HSM (Hardware Security Module), a monolithic solution that was poorly aligned with the cloud concept. The ability to secure data in use, called Confidential Computing, is a big leap forward. More processors will embed this capability, which will therefore be increasingly available in infrastructures.

Organizations are now able to store and run all or part of software programs that require end-to-end security, thus greatly improving the security of data encryption and, in turn, of entire systems. Data encryption will be more readily available, whether for data in transit or at rest, to enhance data security and give businesses much needed peace of mind at a time cyber breaches are becoming increasingly costly. Last year, it was estimated that the average organizational cost of breach in ASEAN stands at US$2.62 million.

Locally-based cloud services will be increasingly in demand for legal reasons

With the introduction of data protection regulations and increased public awareness of this issue, businesses have realized the strategic nature of data sovereignty for themselves. The issue of the legal framework for data goes beyond the scope of cloud providers alone and also affects businesses that use cloud solutions. Local initiatives are multiplying to set the rules for a trusted cloud, which meets everyone's expectations in terms of data sovereignty. Taking as example the recent French-German Gaia-X project, it would not be surprising that in 2020, private as well as public organizations were to favor their regional ecosystem face over the American-Chinese duopoly. We should see the development of new collaborative projects allowing the implementation of more local alternatives, made possible by a collective awareness by European vendors of their ability to provide a relevant cloud offering for the Southeast Asia market.

Many other topics could have been addressed here, such as open source, blockchain, AI and machine learning, but also applications related to smart cities, autonomous cars and connected health. These technologies and fields of application involve the storage, exchange, and processing of a large - sometimes quite large - amount of data, and are still in their infancy. In any case, one thing is for sure; society is evolving and cloud computing will continue to evolve as well, in order to better support it. ASEAN, being the fastest-growing Internet market in the world, offers numerous opportunities for businesses here, however, to capitalize on such, there is a need to not only understand the current state of cloud computing but also pay close attention to its evolution in order to stay ahead of competitors.