Cloud Computing Goes Mainstream – At Last

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It has been well over 10 years since Amazon unveiled AWS—its public cloud computing platform—and almost the same time since the initial release of Microsoft Azure, not to mention a number of smaller companies that broke ground in this space but have been long forgotten since. The title of this article refers to the fact that the long talked-about cloud computing revolution is finally seeing traction with large enterprises with 2017 shaping up to become the tipping point for the cloud as conservative IT adopters are embracing the public cloud for their core IT infrastructure.

Cloud computing is currently projected to grow by about 20% annually over the coming years and the steep increases in cloud revenue recently reported by leading Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) Amazon, Microsoft, and Google are proof that the cloud revolution is finally underway.

What is remarkable is the fact that despite the striking economics of the cloud offerings, it has taken the better part of a decade for the public cloud to develop significant traction with Fortune 500 companies.

This article discusses the following topics:

  • How security and privacy in the cloud have surpassed conventional standards
  • Maturity and completeness of cloud offerings creates rich IT environments
  • Economic penalty of not moving to the cloud increases rapidly

The time for cloud is now. 2017 is going to make history. Click To Tweet

Rigorous Security and Privacy in the Cloud

The lack of cloud security—or rather the perceived lack—has been the single biggest obstacle that has hampered cloud adoption since the early days of the cloud. Curiously enough, there have been no major security breaches of general cloud infrastructure that would substantiate such fears. The specter of a potential breach at the infrastructure level has been enough to keep large enterprises away from the public cloud.

On the flip-side, security risks have made CSPs invest massively in securing their platforms over the past years. And, it is an investment that is now paying big dividends. Security of any major public cloud is arguably much more advanced and more up-to-date than any on-premises security with CSPs employing some of the world’s top security experts working 24×7 on protecting their platforms; no breach in recent memory can be attributed to security flaws of cloud platforms.

The lack of cloud security—or rather the perceived lack—has been the single biggest obstacle that has hampered cloud adoption since the early days of the cloud.

Similarly, privacy concerns are no longer an obstacle either: CSPs are fully accommodating regulations, such as data not leaving a country or a certain geography, with multi-geo offerings that are implemented through an ever-growing network of globally located data centers.
In short, security and privacy are solved more effectively, more securely, and with more rigor in the cloud than anywhere else.

Maturity and Completeness of Cloud Offerings

Cloud offerings have come a long way from being Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) offerings primarily composed of storage and compute resources. Modern clouds are rich platforms that offer a myriad of services ready to be consumed on a pay-as-you-go basis. Not only are these offerings an incredible convenience and accelerate application development, but they also relieve enterprise IT organizations of technically demanding deployment and operations challenges.

Differences between CSP offerings in terms of maturity and completeness have increasingly converged and are all but indistinguishable. For complex systems such as databases, the CSPs have taken decidedly different approaches bringing various innovations to market over the past years. However, even in this space, further consolidation and assimilation should be expected, much to the benefit of IT consumers.

Similarly, positive news holds for availability and general robustness of cloud platforms. The times of significant outages and downtime—not uncommon in the early days of public cloud—are long gone. The cloud has reached a level of enterprise-readiness and maturity that is well on par with on-premises installations, if not already exceeding it.

Cloud Economics for Enterprise IT

Initially, the main, and obvious, value proposition of the public cloud was that of reducing an enterprise’s Capital Expenditure (CAPEX) and CSPs positioned their offerings as an easy way to shed hardware and move from a model of owning equipment to one of merely renting it. This still required enterprise customers to employ administrators and IT staff, with some, if not all, of their Operating Expense (OPEX).

That picture has been changing rapidly too: with richer services, all of enterprise IT is moving from a world in which customers own and operate technology into a world in which they use only APIs and the underlying technology becomes transparent and its implementation irrelevant.

This phenomenon is turning traditional IT on its head. The typical daily irritations between IT and its business users are now resolved: the CSPs refresh hardware constantly, customers always have the latest software releases at their disposal, and the elastic flexibility of cloud systems eliminates the need for costly over-provisioning. Pay-as-you-go becomes the new normal and classic OPEX is drastically reduced.

That picture has been changing rapidly too: with richer services, all of enterprise IT is moving from a world in which customers own and operate technology into a world in which they use only APIs, and the underlying technology becomes transparent and its implementation irrelevant.

The ultimate trigger for enterprises to make the move, however, is software licenses about to expire and upcoming floor-sweep renewals of expensive large-scale hardware components. These are the ultimate compelling events—completely orthogonal to the above developments and benefits of the cloud as such—that have resulted in enterprise IT leaders taking the plunge to the cloud. Not only have the benefits of the cloud become too obvious to be ignored, but the penalty for not adopting the cloud has become too severe.

Virtually all enterprises, not just the classic early adopters or technologists, have formulated a cloud-first strategy over the past 12 months and have begun their cloud-native implementations. The industry has truly reached the tipping point.

The time for cloud is now. 2017 is going to make history.

The next article in this series, titled, Cloud Databases Shed Operations and Maintenance, describes why enterprise IT leaders rethinking their database ecosystem and moving it to the cloud.

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