Over the last few years, there has been an incredible shift towards cloud computing. 78% of UK businesses already have some of their IT services in the cloud and 63% have plans to move their entire operations to cloud computing before the end of the decade.
It’s not surprising, considering the existing benefits cloud technology brings. But these benefits are really just the tip of the iceberg; everything in the IT sphere moves at a pace and new developments are happening all the time. So, if the cloud hasn’t tempted you yet, our seven predictions of what is around the corner might just make you reconsider.
What are the current benefits of the cloud?
One of the biggest attractions of the cloud is its scalability. By being able to access as much performance power as is needed to run your operations and then to be able to scale back at less busy times, massively improves capacity, cost-effectiveness and efficiency for any company. This is especially so for smaller companies who take advantage of the cloud to compete more equally with larger rivals.
Being able to tap into an entire network of servers to utilize their CPU, RAM, bandwidth and storage does more than just allow businesses to cope with traffic peaks – it gives them the resources to analyse Big Data and run a multitude of powerful applications. As a result, they have better IT performance and improved operations, helping them to be more competitive in the marketplace.
Add to this the increase in security (all data is stored safely on the net), easy disaster recovery and the savings made from not needing to invest in hardware, software and maintenance or pay for staffing or energy costs, and you can easily see the attraction that the cloud has.
But how will the cloud transform in the future?
1. More application availability in the Cloud
The cloud has become a bandwagon and everyone is jumping on it – and this is true of developers. In the next few years, we will see an explosion of new app technology for the cloud just as we saw a proliferation in apps for mobile phones and tablets. The majority of new software being produced is created for use in the cloud and updates for existing software are increasingly cloud compatible – MS Outlook being a prime example. According to IBM’s “Global Technology Outlook” an estimated 48 million apps will be available on the cloud by the end of 2016 – making migration easier and more attractive.
2. Growth and credibility in the market
The cloud market is expected to grow significantly throughout the rest of the decade. According to the Cisco Visual Networking Index cloud apps will account for 90% of total global mobile data traffic by 2019 and mobile cloud traffic will have grown eleven-fold from 2014 to 2019 – that’s a compound annual growth rate of 60%.
According to Goldman Sachs, the cloud infrastructure and platform market will grow at an annual compound rate of almost 20% from 2015 to 2018, more than doubling its size from $21B to $43B. In addition, global investment on enterprise applications will increase by 7.5% to reach more than $200B in 2019 with cloud migration being the primary driver of new app sales.
As the market expands, it is likely that there will be far more open and credible competition to the global giants who dominate the cloud market. Currently, Amazon, Microsoft, IBM and Google have over half the market to themselves, however, it is envisaged that competition among an increasing number of smaller, more innovative companies will lead to a wider range of services and better standards being available to cloud users.
3. Hybrid cloud adoption
Another area which will also see expansion is in the use of a hybrid cloud. A hybrid cloud is an integrated IT service that employs both a private and public cloud; each performing exclusive operations. Frequently, the private cloud is used for the more secure operations, such as handling personal data, whilst the public cloud is used for operations which need scalability, such as handling web traffic or Big Data analysis. According to the 2016 ‘State of the Cloud’ report, 82% of businesses have a hybrid cloud strategy.
4. Innovation perspectives
The pace of innovation in cloud software development is rapid. Where software updates on on-premises systems were occasional, in the cloud they are much more frequent, with each update giving new functionality, increased speed or better security. One of the big drivers for innovation is when software users allow developers to monitor how they use the program. This enables them to analyse the data and develop software innovations that enterprises want.
Another innovative feature is that cloud software can be created in a way that lets users choose which features they want to install or not. By enabling companies to customise the software’s configurations and add-ons they can ensure it performs optimally on their system.
For users of the cloud, innovation is most likely to come from their new found ability to analyse big data. This will help them get a better understanding of their customers, products and their market, helping them to create new and better products and services much more quickly.
5. Mass and intelligent mobile connectivity
With the enormous power and capacity of the cloud, mass and intelligent mobile connectivity is something any company can have access to. As a result, companies can produce products which serve huge numbers of people in intelligent ways. Think Just Eat, Tinder, Spotify, Uber.
What the cloud is especially good at, is giving smaller companies the potential to bring these apps to the market themselves. Without the scalability of the cloud, start-up app developers would need to invest heavily in IT resources before launch, which could be extremely risky for a new company with an unproven product. The other alternative would be to sell their innovation. The fact that the cloud makes access to mass and intelligent connectivity cost effective will no doubt lead to the development of far more applications in the future than we have seen at present.
6. The challenge of the “Internet of Everything”
The internet of everything, according to Cisco, is “bringing together people, process, data, and things to make networked connections more relevant and valuable than ever before – turning information into actions that create new capabilities.”
The disparate elements of the Internet of Everything are already here. The Internet of Things (IoT), smart devices that collect and exchange data, has already begun to permeate our daily lives (intelligent access control in workplaces, smart meters for gas and electricity, etc.). We also have, in the cloud, the capacity to process this data. The challenge, therefore, is in developing applications that can analyse the data and in creating a network that can allow all the different devices communicate effectively.
One example of how the Internet of Everything could work is the UK’s smart motorways. These use a system called MIDAS (Motorway Incident Detection and Automatic Signalling) to track traffic flow and average speeds and set variable message signs and speed limits. This is mainly done using sensors, with little human intervention. The data collected is also shared with satnav companies to warn drivers of potential problems on their journeys.
The market possibilities for companies which utilise the Internet of Everything are enormous but only cloud computing can give them the capacity needed to make it successful.
7. Cloud computing or fog networking?
As the Internet of Things develops, the amount of data gathered is going to increase exponentially. As a result, innovation is already taking place to look at the most effective ways to handle such enormous amounts of information.
The way forward is ‘fogging’ or fog networking, where the storage and processing of data, rather than being undertaken solely in the cloud, is shared between the cloud and the smart device. Doing this reduces the amount of data that needs to be transferred to the cloud, thus improving efficiency, reducing latency and helping with security and data compliance.
For fogging to work effectively, there will obviously have to be innovations in the smart technology used in the IoT; devices will not just have to gather and send information, but they will also need to be able to store and process it too. In addition, there may need to be alternative ways of transferring data between devices to ensure the IoT is fast enough to be usable.
From reading this article you should have a better understanding of how the cloud continues to develop and how those who have migrated to it will benefit from it in the future. You will also understand why so many businesses are adopting it, considering the potential benefits it can offer.
If you are considering moving your business operations to the cloud, take a look at our cloud hosting packages.