As my Forrester colleagues anticipated in last year’s predictions, the pandemic put a lot more revenue in leading cloud providers’ pockets while accelerating the transformation of traditional enterprise IT. The results will be seen in 2022: We’ll see a shift to modern application development and industry-specific clouds even as geopolitical tensions reshape the cloud service provider (CSP) marketplace worldwide. The coming year will see big organizations move decisively away from lift-and-shift approaches to the cloud, embracing cloud-native technologies instead. Having watched the hyperscalers upend entire industries — perhaps including their own — enterprises will accelerate their move into cloud-scale applications to meet their competitive challenges.

Here’s a look at three of Forrester’s 2022 cloud computing predictions:

  • You can’t always get what you want — even when you’re a $1.8 trillion hyperscaler. Back in 2019, Google reportedly aimed to become a top-two cloud provider by 2023 or abandon the market altogether. But after years of serious investment and vast service rollouts to try to catch and outstrip Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure, Google will fall short. That “go big or go home” vow can’t be kept unless Google snaps up a major software-as-a-service provider to bulk up market share. Even then, regulators would look askance at any such acquisition, and integration would be a challenge, even for Google. That’s why Google will take a more patient approach, even if it doesn’t even the score with its hyperscale rivals by its target date.
  • Core cloud infrastructure is interchangeable, so CSPs will battle over industry clouds. The cloud achieved its original rapid adoption because it was so generic. Today, the hyperscalers’ core compute, network, and storage services differ mainly by marketing, not functionality, for the everyday enterprise. That commoditization means lower revenue for cloud service providers, so in 2022, they will compete to provide industry-specific clouds with a special focus on highly regulated industries, such as banks. For cloud buyers, the differentiator will no longer be which hyperscaler has the most services, but which one delivers compliance while enabling application developers to do their jobs faster and better in their specific vertical.
  • The era of cloud nationalism will emerge. Regulators and government officials in Washington and Beijing are putting pressure on their respective big tech companies to align with a US-China competition for global, economic, and political influence. The coming year will bring more nation-state intervention on where and how cloud providers can operate. Meanwhile, the European Union and its constituent members will continue to seek CSPs that can meet requirements for data sovereignty, compelling US and Chinese cloud providers to come up with such solutions or risk irrelevance for much of the European market.

In addition to these highlights, Forrester predicts other, far-reaching changes in 2022, including how applications are developed and delivered at planetary scale. For more details, clients can view our full report: Predictions 2022: Cloud Computing.