Cloud adoption is no longer seen as one path to greater efficiency, but as the path to IT modernization for new cloud capabilities and for existing on-premises infrastructure. It is the benchmark capability for IT infrastructure in the US today — even for organizations that retain substantial data centers. Forrester takes a deep dive into our latest US enterprise cloud data in our report The State Of The Cloud In The US, 2022. Cloud has long served as a platform to facilitate new services, but today for the modern, digital enterprise, it is at the heart of all major technology innovation.

Modern enterprises must be agile and able to adapt. COVID-19 provided the perfect storm that showed enterprises what that really meant, especially when it came to resilient operations and better digital engagement. For example, Home Depot used Google Cloud Platform (GCP) to launch a curbside pickup app while managing its e-commerce scaling issues given unprecedented changes in demand. For IT decision-makers, 64% said that modernization was their top goal over the coming year. Not only did cloud platforms power these efforts, but so did cloud-native technology like Kubernetes. Today, nearly three-quarters of US enterprise infrastructure users are adopting containers via platforms as a service, either on-premises or in the cloud.

Global systems integrators (GSIs), managed services providers (MSPs), and the greater cloud partner ecosystem will continue to play a vital role in modernization initiatives as they assist organizations that have limited cloud knowledge or talent. Our data showed significant usage of these providers to help plan, build, and run their cloud initiatives. Many organizations will need assistance in migrating vast enterprise applications and digital operations platforms to the cloud. Other will require help with cloud-native development specializations to help them establish DevOps practices. While the path to cloud adoption is much easier than building a bespoke data center, operating cloud at scale brings complexity, particularly with management. External services are necessary to build cloud infrastructure that can scale with enterprise needs.

Cloud providers are rushing to meet this growing demand by building new data centers and offering more capacity (check out our US cloud data center map!). Tech hubs in Silicon Valley and the greater Seattle area are densely populated with public cloud zones, along with major US centers in the east, like Washington, DC. In addition to this spread are hyperscaler attempts to provide localized infrastructure. Amazon Web Services provides local zones to offer low-latency access to key services such as S3 storage and EC2. This approach will become more popular.

The IT firepower provided by cloud far exceeds what any single enterprise could achieve on its own. Yet it is not risk-free, as notable outages by hyperscaler providers in 2021 made clear. Organizations will need to reconcile their increasingly rapid migration to cloud with their appetite for risk. For example, many financial services firms have embraced multicloud to avoid lock-in and are increasingly aware of their single-supplier risk. This is a choice that most enterprises will face — choose quick innovation or mitigate risk with a multicloud strategy. Even so, there is one key decision that is abundantly clear: IT modernization is a necessity, and cloud native will set the pace.

Want to learn more about this topic? Join us at the upcoming Technology & Innovation North America event live September 29-30 where I’ll be on a panel session entitled Innovating Through Cloud-Native Services And Platforms.