Forrester’s 10-Year Predictions On Cloud Providers, Partners And Technology

From open-source displacement of proprietary cloud infrastructure to partners owning nearly all direct customer relationships, here are the biggest highlights from Forrester’s’ new cloud report.

Forrester has bold predictions about where cloud technology, partner ecosystems and the big three players—AWS, Microsoft and Google—will be over the next decade.

From short-term predictions like the acceleration of open-source displacement of proprietary cloud infrastructure to long-term expectations that cloud will be the foundation for the metaverse, Forrester analysts believe cloud computing will be the driving force in the IT industry for years to come.

“In the next decade, we’ll see the rise of the intelligent composable cloud,” said Forrester analysts in the company’s new 2023 ‘The Future Of Cloud’ report.

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“Customers will compose their own clouds—not only for IT but also for operational technology (OT), commercial, and consumer cloud capabilities,” said Forrester. “And cloud providers will adapt by allowing users to compose services by industry, role and use case.”

Cloud Providers Will Have ‘Few Or No Direct Relationships’

Simply put, cloud computing will become abstracted, intelligent and composable in the future—a reality that will play out over the next decade, Forrester says.

The report includes how cloud hyperscalers—such as Google Cloud, AWS and Microsoft—will need to, or be forced, to evolve. Additionally, “the report sheds light on” how the partner ecosystem will play a more important role than ever in the future.

“Cloud providers will become enablers of partners, directly into their platforms and far-reaching ecosystems, with few or no direct relationships,” said Forrester.

In Q2 2023, worldwide enterprise spending on cloud infrastructure services was nearly $65 billion, according to Synergy Research Group. This represents a $10 billion, or 18 percent, increase year over year. Over the past trailing 12 months, the cloud services market generated a whopping $247 billion in revenue, with no significant slowdown in site.

Forrester’s report dishes out its best predictions of what the cloud computing market will look like one to two years into the future as well as three to five years and six to 10 years.

Short-Term: One To Two Years

Within two years, cloud-native technology and generative AI will lay the basis for a generalized set of cloud capabilities that can embrace multiple public cloud providers and standalone providers of cloud services.

“Hyperscalers will fight off disintermediation through industry clouds, with a short-term focus on AI services and unique infrastructure to power industry-specific use cases,” said Forrester.

Forrester also predicts that open-source displacement of proprietary cloud infrastructure will accelerate.

Kubernetes projects that automate operations, streamline management, support development, and enable service mesh and multicloud operations will close the gap between do-it-yourself and enterprise-ready Kubernetes. Generative AI will likely reduce the need for prebuilt Kubernetes platforms.

Partner Ecosystem Evolution: Open source will force hyperscalers to become participants. Cloud providers will also get close to client business outcomes by addressing the last mile with partners.

Middle-Term: Three To Five Years

In three to five years, hyperscalers will differentiate through AI as they tackle industry use cases and make aggressive bets to extend to the industrial edge beyond existing private 5G investments.

“Instead of disparate services, expect comprehensive collections of services delivered in targeted industry platforms within Kubernetes platforms,” said Forrester.

Cloud providers and edge innovators will deliver prebuilt or semifinished platforms by wrapping multiple services into Kubernetes platforms and serverless containers. In the interim, these will anchor on a single cloud.

Additionally, Forrester says data platforms and AI will defined cloud. While the AI arms race began with search and advertising, the next wave will be around AI services and AI injected within all core products. Where data and AI are needed in multicloud or hybrid environments, cloud challengers such as IBM and Oracle will compete better against the hyperscalers

Partner Ecosystem Evolution: Partners will increasingly help with creating the right set of services for customer goals around areas like cloud costs optimization and integrations.

Long-Term: Six To Ten Years

Major cloud providers will enable and manage a broad swath of IT, OT, commerce, and consumer cloud services in curated experiences that feature multicloud services.

“Cloud will continue to serve as an innovation launchpad for tomorrow’s tech, including metaverse capabilities,” said Forrester.

Cloud providers will—grudgingly—meet user demand for multicloud networking without high egress fees and easier multicloud interoperability. Telcos alongside cloud providers will provide additional investments for this transformation which will bring cloud providers to even more edges.

Additionally, services across platforms will unite in prebuilt platforms. Cloud providers will shift to prebuilt or fully finished platforms, with users having the option to consume offerings: as is; implement their own customizations; or draw from cloud partner ecosystems.

Lastly, the metaverse will exist on top of cloud technology. Only large cloud providers will have the data centers, infrastructure, networking and IoT resources for the foundation of the metaverse.

“They’ll differentiate in approaches to the business engine and engagement interfaces, with Microsoft leveraging gaming and other consumer properties while AWS facilitates metaverse commerce through the engagement interface,” said Forrester. “Facebook will use the metaverse as a bridge from social media to consumer cloud.”

Partner Ecosystem Evolution: Cloud providers will become enablers of partners, directly into their platforms with few or no direct relationships. Businesses and governments will choose cloud and technology providers based on their ability o to fulfill business outcomes.