Data and the European Landscape: 3 Trends for 2022

Mat Keep and Dominic Wellington

The past two years have brought massive changes for IT leaders: large and complex cloud migrations; unprecedented numbers of people suddenly working, shopping and learning from home; and a burst in demand for digital-first experiences.

Like everyone else, we are hoping that 2022 isn’t so disruptive (fingers crossed!), but our customer conversations in Europe do lead us to believe the new year will bring new business priorities. We’re already noticing changes in conversations around vendor lock-in, thanks to the Digital Markets Act, a new enthusiasm for combining operational and analytical data to drive new insights faster, and a more strategic embrace of sustainability. Here’s how we see these trends playing out in 2022.

Digital markets act draws new attention to cloud vendor lock-in in Europe

We’ve heard plenty about the European Commission’s Digital Markets Act, which, in the name of ensuring fair and open digital markets, would place new restrictions on companies that are deemed to be digital “gatekeepers” in the region. That discussion will be nothing compared to the vigorous debate we expect once the EU begins the very tricky political business of determining exactly which companies will fall under the act.

If the EU sets the bar for revenues, users, and market size high enough, it’s possible that the regulation will end up affecting only Facebook, Amazon, Google, Apple, and Microsoft. But a European group representing 2,500 CIOs and almost 700 organisations is now pushing to have the regulation encompass more software companies. Their main concern centers around “distorted competition” in cloud infrastructure services and a worry that companies are being locked into one cloud vendor.

A trend that will likely increase in 2022 that pushes back on cloud vendor lock-in is embracing multi-cloud strategies. We should expect to see more organisations in the region pursuing multi-cloud environments as a means to improve business continuity and agility whilst being able to access best of breed services from each cloud provider. As we have always said…”it’s fine to date your cloud provider….but don’t ever marry them.”

The convergence of operational and analytical data

The processing of operational and analytical data is almost always contained in different data systems, each tuned to that use case and managed by separate teams. But because that data lives in separate places, it’s almost impossible for organisations to generate insights and automate actions in real time, against live data.

We believe 2022 is the year we’ll see a critical mass of companies in the region make significant progress toward a convergence of their operational and analytical data. We’re already starting to see some of the principles of microservices in operational applications, such as domain ownership, be applied to analytics as well. We’re hearing about this from so many of our customers locally, who are looking at MongoDB as an application data platform that allows them to perform queries across both real-time and historical data, using a unified platform and a single query API. This results in the applications they are building becoming more intelligent and contextual to their users, while avoiding dependencies on centralized analytics teams that otherwise slow down how quickly new, data-driven experiences can be released.

Sustainability drives local strategic IT choice

Technology always has some environmental cost. Sometimes that’s obvious — such as the energy needs and emissions associated with Bitcoin mining. More often, though, the environmental costs are well hidden.

The European Green Deal commits the European Union to reducing emissions by 55% by 2030, with a focus on sustainable industry. With the U.N. Climate Change Conference (COP26) recently completed in Glasgow, and coming off the hottest European summer on record, climate issues have become top of mind.

That means our customers are increasingly looking to make their technical operations more sustainable — including in their choice of cloud provider and data centers. According to research from IDC, more than 20% of CxOs say that sustainability is now important in selecting a strategic cloud service provider, and some 29% of CxOs are including sustainability into their RFPs for cloud services. Most interesting, 26% say they are willing to switch to providers with better sustainability credentials.

Historically, it’s been difficult to make a switch like that. That’s part of the reason we built MongoDB Atlas — to give our customers the flexibility to run in any region, with any of the three largest cloud providers, and to make it easy to switch between them, and even to run a single database cluster across them. Publicly available information about the footprint of individual regions and even single data centers will make it simpler for companies to make informed decisions. Already, at least one cloud platform has added indicators to regions with the lowest carbon footprint.

So while we hope 2022 will not be as disruptive as the years gone by, it will still bring seminal changes to our industry. These changes will also prompt organisations toward more agile, cohesive and sustainable data platform strategies as they seek to gain competitive advantage and exceed customer expectations.

Source: IDC, European Customers Engage Services Providers at All Stages of Their Cloud Journey, IDC Survey Spotlight, Doc #EUR248484021, Dec 2021