Cloud Computing: Trends to Watch in 2021


By Phillip Liu, General Manager of Middle East and Africa, Alibaba Cloud Intelligence

Phillip Liu, General Manager of Middle East and Africa, Alibaba Cloud Intelligence

2020 was one of the most unpredictable years in human history. However, it did highlight the importance of technology and its impact on our everyday lives – whether through enabling us to work from home for an indefinite period of time, or fighting against  the spread of the coronavirus around the world. We have witnessed a transformation in the work culture across different industries that continue to integrate cloud computing technology, artificial intelligence (AI), and the internet of things (IoT). In 2021, the trend of digital transformation will remain dominant across several industries.

Cloud computing supported the online economy, global supply chains and remote workforces during the coronavirus pandemic, and will continue to hold sway over the business sector in 2021, empowering organizations with increased scalability and cost-efficiency.

Here is a look at the top three cloud computing trends that will dominate this year.

The Demand for Public Cloud Will Grow

Public cloud is a cloud infrastructure provisioned for use by the general public, individuals or businesses. Essentially, third-party public cloud providers lease servers within a virtual environment, which is accessible over the Internet. Users can then access these servers by purchasing public cloud services.

The demand for public cloud is expected to surge as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Statistica, a leading provider of market and consumer data, revenue from the public cloud is expected to grow at a CAGR of 19 percent between 2021 and 2025, and record a market volume of US$679.494 million by 2025.

COVID-19 has had an adverse impact on many businesses on a worldwide scale, and necessitated that they re-strategize their approach to advance. To power their next phase of growth, offline business operations will need to move online to ensure business continuity and efficiency, making cloud computing a viable solution.

Public cloud is considered a cost-effective solution because companies don’t need to buy or install physical servers – greatly benefiting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) as well as companies with reduced IT budgets. Public cloud also works on a “pay-as-you-go” model, allowing businesses to pay for only the resources that they need or use. Compared to private cloud, the threshold for public cloud use is much lower, making it more efficient, seamless, and practical to use public cloud to maintain productivity and innovation.

Hybrid Cloud Will Increase in Popularity

A growing number of enterprises today prefer to use a hybrid cloud strategy – leveraging a mix of private cloud and public cloud, with numbers set to surge even more over the next few years. Modor Intelligence, a top market intelligence and advisory firm, reported that the hybrid cloud market is expected to reach US$128.01 billion by 2025, growing at a CAGR of 18.73 percent over the forecast period 2020 – 2025.

A hybrid cloud environment allows enterprises to distribute workloads across different cloud environments according to their business needs. For example, a company can run core services in a private cloud environment to have better control and customize the space to meet its needs. When the workload exceeds the limits of the available resources, the additional work can be transferred automatically to the public cloud environment.

Hybrid cloud allows businesses to experience the benefits of both private and public clouds. This solution provides high scalability, virtually unlimited storage space, flexible payment models, and is cost-effective, similar to the public cloud. Hybrid cloud is also highly secure and offers businesses greater flexibility and control over cloud resources such as those in a private cloud.

The Cloud is the Future for Retail and FinTech

Retail and FinTech are two industries set to profit the most from cloud technology. With cloud technology, retailers are able to swap their traditional systems for structures that adapt to the ever-evolving market. Brick-and-mortar businesses were most severely hit during the COVID-19 pandemic, and were compelled to embrace cloud technology to benefit from improved channel operations, greater supply chain visibility, cost-efficiency, and comprehensive online to offline (O2O) solutions.

With cutting-edge digitalization and the integration of smart devices becoming the norm, the FinTech industry today is witnessing a period of rapid growth that has paved the way for a host of innovative e-lending and e-payment solutions. According to Market Data Forecast, a top market research firm, the global financial technology market is expected to reach a value of approximately US$305 billion by 2025, growing at a CAGR of nearly 22.17 percent over the 2020-2025 forecast period. Some of the major benefits of adopting cloud computing within the FinTech industry are greater flexibility, enhanced security, purposeful innovation, and a rise in scalability.

2021 is gearing up to become a transformative year for cloud technology. As the effects of the pandemic persist, organizations will need to reevaluate how they navigate the challenges and the new business environment they find themselves in. Cloud computing, thanks to its flexibility and versatility, might be just the answer that these businesses are looking for.