Cloud Computing - From Adolescence to Adulthood
By Lewis Chan, Head of Technology, SUNeVision
The debut of Amazon Web Services (AWS) in 2006 marked the birth of modern cloud computing. After almost 12 years, cloud infrastructure service has grown into its adolescence. The global public cloud market is now worth over US$180 billion, growing by 24% in 2017 alone, according to a recent report by Synergy Research. With Forrester Research predicting that, in 2018, over 50% of global enterprises will rely on at least one public cloud platform to drive digital transformation, cloud computing has a promising future for an adulthood that is poised to dominate the future IT landscape.
Enterprises are no longer questioning whether the cloud is right for their business - they now scramble to decide how soon and how much according to the study by Forrester. Gartner predicts that, by 2020, a Corporate "No-Cloud" Policy will be as rare as "No-Internet" Policy is today.
There are several key factors underpinning the maturity and proliferation of cloud computing in the coming years.
Security concerns are no longer hindering cloud adoption
Security concerns have been a major barrier to cloud adoption, but that has been changing. According to a recent survey by McAfee, the total number of organizations who distrust clouds dropped from 50% to 29%. On one hand, public cloud platform providers are hardening every aspect of their systems to ensure greater security and scalability. On the other hand, it is getting more difficult to maintain a secure environment on-premise as cyber attacks are getting more sophisticated and more difficult to prevent or defend. Gartner predicts that, through 2020, public cloud infrastructure will suffer at least 60% fewer security incidents than those in traditional data centres.
Cloud infrastructure has become a platform for innovative technology
Every major cloud service provider, including AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud and IBM Cloud, has developed an array of platform services for application developers. They are no longer pure Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) providers. Such platform services range from databases, workflow, content delivery network (CDN), serverless micro services, data analytics, machine learning, and voice recognition to Internet of Things (IoT) frameworks. Such platforms have made it much easier for developers to stay at the forefront of innovative technologies with minimal effort and cost. The lock-in effect of such platform services will definitely drive more cloud adoption moving forward.
Hybrid cloud is driving adoption for enterprises
According to a Forrester Research survey, hybrid cloud adoption grew 3x in 2017, increasing from 19% to 57% of organizations surveyed. Hybrid cloud combines the best of both worlds and allows cloud adopters to place the workloads where they make the most sense. Sensitive data can remain on-premises in private clouds, while customer facing or computation intensive applications are deployed on public clouds. All major cloud service providers are offering direct connection gateways (such as AWS' Direct Connect, Azure's ExpressRoute, Google's Cloud Interconnect and IBM's Direct Link) to facilitate hybrid cloud deployment as these gateways offer secure and high performance connections between private and public clouds.
IoT, AI and Big Data will make the cloud inevitable
While IoT, AI and Big Data are poised to shape the future of our IT landscape, being able to process enormous amount of data from numerous distributed devices has posed a challenge for organizations wanting to develop business solutions to take advantages of the advances in such technologies. The leading cloud infrastructure providers are adding edge computing, machine learning and big data analytics capabilities to their suite of services to support the development and deployment of applications that were once only possible for the most advanced and resourceful technology companies. Not only is the cloud making such technology more accessible to all, these new technologies are also making the cloud inevitable for those who would like to leverage on these technologies to develop innovative solutions and gain business advantages in this competitive world.
In closing, I would like to borrow what Andy Jassy, CEO of AWS, said in a recent keynote speech: "… the puck's been dropped. It is right in front of you and you got to decide are you gonna play or are you gonna skate away and not play. I think for companies there is a huge penalty for not playing because you gonna have less capable technology than all of your competitors who are leveraging the cloud…".
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