A year in cloud: A look back on 2018

Cloud

The team look back on their stand-out cloud moments of the year

“In many ways, 2018 was the year that major cloud companies started to deliver on the hybrid promises made in 2017. The likes of AWS and Google Cloud now seem to understand that the idea of a ‘cloud-first’ approach remains, for many companies, entirely unrealistic. Larger organisations or those heavily invested in legacy hardware are simply too entrenched to shift their operations to a public cloud.

“Product releases this year seem to reflect this understanding, with Google Cloud, in particular, going as far as to not only encourage customers towards hybrid, but also help them cut administration costs once they arrive. AWS, somewhat late to the party, used its re:Invent conference in November to make its own hybrid push. Outposts, it’s latest hybrid service, gives customers a chance to buy preconfigured server racks designed to run AWS services as if they were operating on Amazon’s own data centres.

“It’s announcements like these that make it clear that going all in on cloud is no longer a viable marketing position for cloud giants – it simply doesn’t align with the reality of their customers.”

Dale Walker, acting deputy and features editor

“As predicted last year, 2018 was the year of multi-cloud; rather than trying to lock customers into a walled ecosystem, cloud vendors embraced the concept of integration and interoperability, allowing customers to adopt best-of-breed cloud solutions by cherry-picking the providers which best fit their needs.

“And adopt they did. Cloud adoption is now in full swing across the majority of businesses, and a good chunk have finished their deployments and are moving onto other transformation projects.

“A popular one is AI, which has steadily become more of a focus for both cloud vendors and cloud consumers. As machine learning technology develops, companies have started to explore the possibilities, with several AI-based products and services already in market.”

Adam Shepherd, reviews and community editor

“A small story we spotted back in September turned out to be one of the biggest takeaways from AWS re:Invent 2018. The company posted job adverts for satellite specialists and swiftly removed them before anyone could see them. But it wasn’t swift enough as Amazon enthusiast website This Just In managed to get screenshots of the postings.

“The positions were Space and Satellite System Software Development Engineer and Space and Satellite Product Manager. There was little detail provided beyond brief job descriptions, but we got answers, surprisingly, in November when AWS CEO Andy Jassy announced AWS Ground Station, a new operation to improve the transfer of satellite data to the cloud.

“The announcement was one of the biggest talking points at re:Invent 2018, as it means AWS can download and migrate geospatial data into the cloud for its customers. Now, it’s less about what AWS will do next and more about what customers and partners are going to do with it.”

Bobby Hellard, staff writer

“Cloud technology has become more crucial to businesses in the last 12 months, and this is a trend that’s sure to continue for some time to come.

“But, to some extent, 2018 betrayed a certain fallibility in service providers, and confirmed organisations will never be able to rely on them to offer an undisrupted service, or fully guarantee data security. It’s an issue that affected the two biggest players in this space, AWS and Microsoft’s Azure.

“Although critical changes to AWS towards the backend of 2017 and in 2018 - such as default encryption to S3 buckets - aimed to bolster security, a fluttering of incidents suggested issues still prevailed. For instance, the Buckhacker tool, a white hat hacker-developed plugin, comprised a search engine that trawled through AWS servers for unsecure servers.

“Microsoft, meanwhile, suffered a series of embarrassing and occasionally bizarre service outages, exemplified by a “severe” weather event knocking out its Texas-based data centre, leading to a global Azure and Office 365 outage.

“It demonstrates, if anything, that service providers can never guard against absolutely everything, including the forces of nature, and businesses who rely on the cloud to host their data and run their critical operations must take this into account.”

Keumars Afifi-Sabet, staff writer

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