Within the last few years, cloud computing has been brought to the forefront as one of the most popular business trends. Many wonder whether or not this trend is dead or it is simply evolving to accommodate new technologies.
Whether people realize it or not, cloud computing has been around for longer than just the last few years. For more than a decade, the average PC user has been engaging in cloud technologies with the use of web-based email services such as Hotmail, Gmail, and others. When you think about it, this is an email client that can be accessed from any location with Internet connectivity and from any device simply by logging onto the website and entering your username and password. It signifies that we have been living in the cloud before the term “cloud” even became a well-known concept.
Many other companies such as Amazon and Google have developed the concept with the inception of Amazon Web Services and Google Docs. Then other cloud services providers came on board with cloud technologies such as Desktop Virtualization (DaaS Hosted Desktop as a Service), Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).
These cloud services offered companies a cost effective way to consolidate resources and access the latest technologies. It also has leveled the playing field for small to medium-sized businesses to compete with large corporations without exorbitant IT costs. In the current business environment, these cloud services are still used while a few are being replaced by newer technologies. This leads many to believe the cloud revolution is a thing of the past.
Has the cloud had its day, or has it simply evolved?
If you have been watching the market trends, most of them point to the fact that cloud computing is going to grow during 2014 and through the rest of the decade. With the explosion of mobile commerce and workplace mobility, many new applications and services were added during 2013. This trend is continuing in 2014 with more solutions to optimize customer service, mobile advertising, mobile business communications and productivity, payment solutions, and much more.
As a result of the explosion in mobile commerce, this is a major contributor to the growth in cloud solutions. Additionally, Adaptive Computing, a company that provides some of the largest private and hybrid cloud computing environments, recently announced its prediction for 2014 and beyond. The prediction surrounds new and emerging trends that include the merging of cloud computing, big data, and High Performance Computing. The predictions which were based on a survey by Adaptive Computing include:
Consolidation of Resources to Provide an Improved Big Data Solution
Over 90 percent of enterprises believe in the merging of cloud computing, big data and High Performance Computing (HPC). This means organizations can optimize data center resources to gain the competitive advantage by simultaneously implementing computing tasks across multiple platforms.
Automation of Big Data Analysis
Many organizations deploy a manual process for big data analysis which proves to be costly and time consuming. More than 90 percent of organizations showed they were in favor of automated workflow processes to reduce costs and minimize the possibility of process errors.
High Performance Computing Will Be the Predominant Big Data Solution
More than 40 percent or organizations surveyed indicated that they would use High Performance Computing as a big data solution. HPC hardware costs have been gradually decreasing which places HPC as a big data solution within the reach of more organizations.
Big Data Workflow Volume and Complexity is Driving New Workflow Processes
Over 70 percent of organizations indicated that the increasing volume and complexity of big data has had a negative impact on business insight. By using High Performance Computing combined with cloud computing, this will eliminate bottlenecks and help to extract key data via automated workflows.
According to Gartner, a leading information technology research company, “Mobility, big data and analytics were rated as being of greater importance to an organization’s strategy than social.” “This aligns well with the data received from a recent vendor survey conducted by Gartner in which 2,015 providers expect analytics to account for three times the revenue stream of social.” ---- The origin of this information is from the User Survey Analysis: Driving Efficiency and Reducing Cost is King When It Comes to Decision Making for New Technology Solutions. January 2014.
This information points to the fact that cloud computing is indeed evolving into a powerful business tool for businesses of all sizes and the current cloud environment. The future forecast indicates that cloud computing is now more affordable than it has ever been. As a result, some of the cloud technologies and trends that are being embraced by businesses within the coming year include:
Use of the Hybrid Cloud: Hybrid clouds potentially represent the end of the debates over whether or not the private cloud is better than the public cloud when it comes to enterprise IT. The use of hybrid clouds has significantly increased in popularity due to the capability to provide the best of both worlds. Hybrid clouds combine private cloud security with the cost reducing benefits of public clouds. The end result is security, flexibility, scalability, and more cost effective backup systems.
Platform as a Service (PaaS): Platform as a Service remains at the forefront of cloud technologies because it provides a cost effective way to expedite application development without the costs associated with maintaining the infrastructure. PaaS helps companies speed up the development of software applications using better testing and deployment. This means a faster time to market which helps companies to gain the competitive advantage.
Identity Management Applications: With the increased use of mobile devices and cloud applications, more enterprises are deploying identity management systems in an effort to rethink security policies and the implications associated with increased accessibility.
Bring Your Own Device (BYOD): The BYOD movement began to increase during 2013 and is expected to continue during the coming year. More employees are placing their files and applications on their own device for the purpose of syncing and storage. This has forced enterprises to find new ways to integrate personal cloud services and improve mobile device management.
Also, more businesses will be running high end graphics programs in the cloud using HTML5. This avoids the costs associated with the hardware infrastructure required to run graphics intensive applications.
Do businesses trust the cloud?
The downward price trends of cloud technologies coupled with the increased requirements for meeting compliance guidelines and industry-specific regulations has coerced more organizations into rethinking security in the cloud. For the most part, many businesses cannot remain competitive in today’s business environment using legacy IT systems. Additionally, most organizations operating on limited IT budgets are unable to meet the soaring costs of compliance regulations and requirements.
A few years back, more organizations had reservations about security when moving data and applications to the cloud. This concern has been changing in the last few years with the increased number of cloud vendors that must meet regulatory requirements.
Choosing the right cloud vendor is an important part of security and peace of mind that your data is protected from prying eyes. When you research cloud service providers the quality vendors will provide proof that they have met regulatory requirements, such as those associated with the Payment Card Industry (PCI), Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).
Additionally, many vendors have been able to provide secure services to organizations that have industry-specific requirements. The main thing to remember is to do your homework and choose a cloud vendor carefully. This is time well invested and will have a huge payoff over the long term.
Will organizations move away from the cloud or will they continue to embrace it? And for what reasons?
As we have all learned in recent months, there is always the threat of government accessing sensitive data which has caused some enterprises to think twice about using cloud technologies. However, cloud service providers are global and some enterprises choose an overseas service where others use US-based cloud services. The reality is data security is never 100 percent foolproof. However, you will find that the higher quality service providers deploy next generation security technologies that make cloud computing more secure and relatively safe.
In terms of whether more organizations will move away from the cloud or embrace it, cloud growth trends have pointed to the fact that more organizations are using cloud technologies. According to recent findings by Bensonoff and Wilder of Computer Support and SmartBooks, Platform as a Service (PaaS) is expected to exceed Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) in the next few years. PaaS includes providers such as Google App Engine and OpenStack.
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) grew more than 46 percent between 2012 and 2013 with Amazon Web Services and VMware leading the way. The IaaS service market is currently worth more than 15 billion and is expected to increase by as much as 30 billion within the next two years.
More than half of global organizations are using Software as a Service (SaaS) with Google Apps, Salesforce, and MS Office 365 leading the way. Approximately 60 percent of companies were using SaaS in 2013 with the market expected to increase by more than 30 billion over the next two years.
If businesses move away from the cloud instead of embracing it, the primary reason may be the recent NSA revelations. Aside from that, more organizations appear to be embracing the cloud. How enterprises will deal with the cloud and mobile computing still remains somewhat of an open question.
The implications of cloud computing on the IT industry are rather intriguing to say the least. Software has gradually been defining IT infrastructure making hardware even more of a commodity. Plus, the idea of applications that can be written once and run on virtually any type of device, the device you choose is of lesser importance.
One thing is for sure and that is the method of software delivery has changed the landscape forever. Although traditional IT vendors will still be in demand, mobile apps and SaaS will provide a cost effective way for organizations to access new technologies.
For many organizations, there is an ever growing realization that in order to remain competitive, you must deploy web-based and mobile applications for workers and customers alike. This means acquiring the IT skills and technologies necessary to make it happen which points to cloud service vendors that employ staff with a broad range of specialized expertise.
Claire is an IT Support specialist with over 5 years’ experience providing small business users with expert advice and guidance in all things cloud. In her spare time, Claire likes to write articles for technology websites.