A couple of years ago, I happened to have coffee with a couple of friends who works with one of the Fortune 500 Tech companies, Microsoft, to be specific. As we all discussed, they commented that “The future of Tech is the Cloud.” They said that that is why their company is investing a Herculean load of funds in building many data centers across the United States and abroad. As it stands, Microsoft Azure is in stiff competition with Amazon Web Services (AWS), which is currently at the top of the pack among cloud service providers. Other top cloud service providers are Google, Alibaba Cloud, Oracle, IBM, Tencent Cloud, etc.
“If someone asks me what cloud computing is, I try not to get bogged down with definitions. I tell them that, simply put, cloud computing is a better way to run your business.” — Marc Benioff, Founder, CEO, and Chairman of Salesforce
What is Cloud Computing? Various definitions abound. The Amazon Web Service (AWS) system defines it as “the on-demand delivery of IT resources over the Internet with pay-as-you-go pricing.” Microsoft describes it as “the delivery of computing services—including servers, storage, databases, networking, software, analytics, and intelligence—over the Internet (“the cloud”) to offer faster innovation, flexible resources, and economies of scale.” IBM defines it as“the delivery of on-demand computing resources—everything from applications to data centers—over the internet on a pay-for-use basis.” All the definitions point to the same thing—there is a significant workload shift—your local computers in your business don’t have to bench all the weight when it comes to running applications. The interlinked networks of computers that constitute the cloud become the Atlas that carry the weight of your business world.
Cloud computing transcends the mere physical networking of computer devices within a given physical space or location. It deals with how computer services, usually of a complex nature, are delivered over the internet. These services include storage, analytics, servers, databases, and so many others. The advantages of cloud computing are numerous as it offers flexibility and is also affordable for most small businesses. Cloud computing service is also subscription-based. Also, you don’t pay for what you may not use. Your resources are only spent on services that will add value to your business; hence, making your business growth an agile effort. In the process, you can reduce the cost of running your business. You can also grow as a corporate entity without being burdened by business risks that may end up not adding value to your business.
As we advance, we find that the world is fast embracing cloud computing at an astronomical rate. Here’s one staggering statistic I came across on Statista—Amazon Web Services (AWS) is said to have generated over 13% of Amazon’s net sales and 50% of its operating income in the first quarter of 2019. Now think about that! A lot of people know Amazon as an online retailer of goods and services in various business niches. However, as we can see, cloud computing takes the lion’s share of what Amazon makes in terms of revenue. But with such profits it is making from this business niche, we are compelled to pause and ask relevant questions. This is pertinent because it’s not just Amazon that makes this much of a behemoth in revenue generation from Cloud computing. Other companies such as Microsoft, Google, Alibaba Cloud, Oracle, IBM, Tencent Cloud, Salesforce, SAP, etc., are also part of the cloud services rat race.
The power of the cloud in our present age is quite enormous. From the cutting-edge merits of speed to cost to improved productivity, agility, global scale, security, reliability, minimal downtime, etc. The power of the cloud is nothing but astonishing. In the words of Roy Stephan, Founder and CEO of PierceMatrix, “With the cloud, individuals and small businesses can snap their fingers and instantly set up enterprise-class services.” These listed merits are the things that keep drawing these small businesses to the cloud and allowing them to set up enterprise-class services. Business-to-Business (B2Bs) and Business-to-Consumer (B2Cs) have achieved a grand scale and tectonic impact in the 21st century as smaller companies keep migrating to the cloud. Due to these upwards shifts, the estimated worth of the cloud industry is on the rise.
According to Gartner, an analyst, the global cloud services market in 2017 had an estimated $246.8 billion worth. According to Markets and Markets, “The global cloud computing market size is expected to grow from USD 371.4 billion in 2020 to USD 832.1 billion by 2025, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 17.5% during the forecast period.” Meaning that the CAGR between 2017 and 2020 was a 13% growth. Hence, between 2017 and 2025, the projected CAGR will be a 16.4% growth. This, on its own, are mind-blowing figures and astronomical CAGRs. And trends from previous years have shown a high growth trajectory for the cloud computing industry. The future of the cloud is grave with potentials and profits.
Speed is one of the distinguishing and powerful features of the cloud. Momentum appears to be one crucial factor that will play a significant role in the cloud’s future. This is one of the most important reasons why most companies outsource their cloud needs to cloud service providers without considering the cost. Speed is essential for business in the world today. With the cloud, one finds out that it’s way more comfortable and faster to access an extensive range of computing resources within a short time, making it an attractive option. This gives room for flexibility. Via the cloud, IT resources can be provisioned in minutes. Data is no longer confined to a local hard drive in a specific geographic space. The immediate access to needed resources saves time. Time saved is money gained by the business that operates on the cloud. That is the power of the cloud—speed and agility. It can determine whether a company will make more profit or stay in place amid competitors around it.
“Every kid coming out of Harvard, every kid coming out of school now thinks he can be the next Mark Zuckerberg, and with these new technologies like cloud computing, he actually has a shot.” — Marc Andreessen, Co-founder of Netscape, Board Member of Facebook
The cloud’s power can be gleaned when you consider some of its unique features and then the possibilities for the industry’s future growth. Cloud computing gives you a significant leeway to scale globally or, in another context, rise elastically. It allows you to outsource managing your data needs to a different corporate entity, allowing you to focus on other tasks at hand. This means you don’t get to spend resources for hardware components each time you want to expand your cloud needs; instead, you inform your cloud provider as they have enough capacity to accommodate more space for your data/cloud needs. With cloud computing, you can do away with the need for software patching and hardware set up. This saves you space and curtails the stress of budgeting for more areas if you don’t have enough space to contain your needs. The future of cloud computing promises to on-board more small businesses into the sales funnel of the cloud service providers considering the potential for the economics of scale, in which cases these small businesses can save a lot and achieve more at the same time. Talk about ease!
Many more companies will keep migrating to the cloud in the future because it promises a lot of security. Think about the numerous cloud providers like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, and so many others whose security policies mean that these smaller companies stand to be indemnified in the event of eventualities such as data breaches. Consider the far-reaching benefits of this for a typical small company in the United States of America or one in Africa, for instance, a country like Nigeria, Africa’s e-commerce giant. What do you think they will do? Jump at such opportunities? Your guess is as good as mine. Companies are so serious about their privacy as no company would want their private security details to be meddled with. Knowing that cloud providers have a track record of consistency in having well-built security walls to protect clients’ vital information, they will gladly patronize these providers.
Flowing from the above is the importance of protecting data if there is a disaster such as fire, natural disaster, building collapse, etc. A company with an in-house data center for its data storage and functioning needs may risk having all of these destroyed if a fire disaster strikes or other disasters of similar damning ramifications occur. With the cloud providers in place, this task is mitigated. Small companies would, therefore, want to cash in on this great advantage. No one ever entreats disasters on a large scale or even a tiny scale to occur, but you sure know the broad implications of that when they do. To ensure that they save themselves from the stress of thinking about how to mitigate or avoid this, small and large organizations reach out to cloud providers whose core specialty is to handle such specialized functions.
Types of Cloud Computing
The growth of cloud computing has led to the emergence of various cloud models. Each of the models gives the end-users diversified levels of control, flexibility, and management. There are three main delivery models of cloud computing services—often called the cloud computing stack because they build on top of each other when deployed. They are Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). Let’s take a brief look at each of them.
The first cloud computing type or model is Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS). This cloud service offers the computing architecture and infrastructure (i.e., it gives you access to all computing resources—servers and virtual machines, data storage, networks, and operating systems—so that multiple users can access them when needed). Most cloud computing vendors are responsible for managing the four infrastructures, as mentioned above. The IaaS user will be responsible for handling other resources such as Applications, Data, Runtime, and Middleware. IaaS users are mainly System Administrators (i.e., SysAdmins). DigitalOcean, Linode, Rackspace, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Cisco Metapod, Microsoft Azure, Google Compute Engine (GCE), Joyent, etc.
Some basic pros of IaaS are as follows:
- The cloud service vendor provides the infrastructure (i.e., servers and virtual machines, data storage, networks, and operating systems).
- IaaS offers the option of enhanced scalability—dynamic workloads are supported by this cloud service.
- IaaS is very flexible.
The cons of IaaS are as follows:
- There are security issues.
- There may be network and service delays.
The second cloud computing type or model is Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS). It is mainly a development environment with the following constituting parts: a programming language environment, an operating system (OS), a web server, and a database. The aforementioned encapsulates the ground or platform where users can build, compile, and deploy their programs without worrying about the underlying infrastructure. In this cloud computing model, you are responsible for managing the data and the application resources—making you more efficient and focused on innovation without any distractions. All other resources are governed by the cloud service provider or vendor. Users of PaaS are mainly developers of web applications. Some examples of PaaS products and services are AWS Elastic Beanstalk, Windows Azure, Heroku, Force.com, Google App Engine, Apache Stratos, OpenShift, IBM Cloud Foundry, Pivotal Cloud Foundry, etc.
Some basic pros of PaaS are as follows:
- It makes for cost-effective and rapid development of applications—it is very scalable;
- It creates a faster market for web developers; it makes for easy deployment of web applications;
- Private or public deployment is possible.
Some of the cons are as follows:
- Developers in this sphere of cloud service are limited to the Providers’ languages and tools,
- Some migration issues arise, such as—the risk of vendor lock-in.
The third cloud computing type or model is Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). It is a service that offers an on-demand pay-per-use of application software to users by cloud provider hosts. It is different from license-bought programs because it is platform-independent. There is no need to purchase and download the software. The cloud providers deploy and run a solo example of that software and make it available to several end users. This simplifies the process as it makes the software available on the cloud, making it possible to access it on any system. These computing resources are hence vendor-managed, making cloud computing in this instance more affordable. SaaS is available for use as a web-based application or via the lightweight client application. The users of SaaS is usually end-users. Some examples of SaaS products and services are Google Ecosystem (e.g., Gmail, Google Doc, Google Drive, G-Suite, etc.); Microsoft Office 365; Concur travel and expense management solution; DocuSign, etc.
Some basic pros are as follows:
- It is globally accessible from any platform.
- Telecommuting is possible via its use.
- It is perfect for collaborative work.
- Cloud providers create access to modest software tools.
- Multi-tenancy is possible while using SaaS.
Some of the cons are as follows:
- There could be portability and browser issues.
- End-users Internet performance may spell the overall performance of the software.
- There may be some compliance restrictions to software use.
The Future of Cloud Computing
At this juncture of writing, I hit a research block—it was as if I got starved of reliable data online about cloud computing’s future trends. The closest data that I found that forecasts the future of the cloud is Google’s White Paper dossier titled “Future of cloud computing: A view of the future of cloud computing, through the eyes of the luminaries who helped build it.” The facts and extrapolations that the dossier presents make sense and an excellent read. We should keep an eye on their statistical projections, as it guides their future predictions.
The power of the cloud is quite immense. Once again, as aforementioned above, the benefits of networking speeds, computer power, or storage capability are only the core minimums that cloud computing delivers. We have also seen that it will make computing more efficient and reliable. These factors are critical in providing new computing technologies that are both revolutionary and value-adding. Cloud computing is cost-effective, drives innovation, standardizes, and simplifies security management.1
In the future, cloud computing will evolve as part of a stack that consists of the Internet of Things (IoT) and edge computing (i.e., processing at the source of data ingestion).1 (NB. According to Oracle, IoT is “the network of physical objects—“things”—that are embedded with sensors, software, and other technologies to connect and exchange data with other devices and systems over the internet”). Concerning IoT, in the future, these “things” generate big data. The cloud will become a grand virtual autobahn for the migration of the future generated data of IoT.2
Google posits some of the following facts and future extrapolations about the future of cloud computing:
- Many corporations utilize a multi-platform cloud computing strategy (e.g., on-prem, off-prem, public, and private cloud options). This is projected to grow by 90 percent by 2024.1
- Between 2018 and 2021, global cloud spending is forecasted to grow 73 percent from $160 billion to $277 billion and more.1
- By 2022, greater than 40 percent of organizations’ cloud deployment will include edge computing, and 25 percent of endpoint devices will execute AI algorithms.1
Google establishes that cloud computing is already changing how we work and will continue to do so in the future. Decision-makers (i.e., IT and business decision-makers at global-midmarket and large companies) have several forecasts that span from now to the year 2029.1 By 2029:
- 77 percent of decision-makers will use the cloud for most of their needs.1
- 64 percent believe that everyone (i.e., even remote dwellers) will have access to computing.1
- 87 percent expect that the cloud will be a significant driver of revenue.1
- 66 percent more companies will adopt edge computing for the lion’s share of their cloud computing operations.1
- 83 percent of corporations believe that edge computing or IoT will impact all industries.1
- 94 percent of companies plan to use Open Source Software (OSS).1
- 41 percent of companies intend to use OSS for much of their software platform.1
- 70 percent of decision-makers expect many security operations to be automated.1
- 72 percent of decision-makers expect to see more security implementations pre-development.1
“In 2030, because of cloud computing, the number one job will be for developers.” — CEO / Co-founder @observablehq, ex-VP of Eng @google.
The above is just some of the facts stipulated in the Google document. However, a terse summary of this document states that “the future of the cloud will be transformative— “technology models will become more flexible, and open; office cultures will shift toward transparency, collaboration, and constant learning.” 1 Because of all this, there will be more innovation, growth, and team building in the future.
Cloud computing spells the word—efficiency—in technological business operations. The more efficient organizations can run their operations, the more profitable they become. The cloud can offer this level of efficiency; hence, the cloud makes enterprises to stay profitable. The cloud is an autobahn that delivers flexibility, capacity, and speed to cloud service consumers at an affordable rate. The merits of the cloud are what makes it robust and a draw for enterprises. These merits also contribute to the astronomical growth and relevance of cloud computing.
Cloud computing allows enterprises to rise or scale elastically. Cloud computing vendors go the extra mile to offer a secure ambiance of operation, which will continue to grow in the future. The three main models provided by various cloud computing vendors— Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). This gives the end-users versatility of options in the effective execution of their operations.
The cloud computing future is robust and will continue to transcend and thrive. The cloud is a software developer’s heaven—we are yet to see the full span of software development that cloud computing will ginger in the future. In the future, multi-cloud platforms will increase. Spending on the cloud will increase. Edge computing will fast become the go-to solution to organizations. Artificial Intelligence (AI) will play a Herculean role in cloud computing. In the future, the cloud will become part of the stringed mesh of society’s fabric.
“Software is eating the world.” — Marc Andreesen, Netscape Co-Founder and Venture Capitalist.
The cloud computing future is bright. In the future, many enterprises will continue to outsource their IT units to the cloud. There will be “Cloud Wars” as cloud providers duke it out for cloud supremacy in the future. Quantum computing meeting cloud computing will become a norm. Cloud computing will continue to evolve the work landscape. There is so much more to come, so much more to unveil. We are yet to scratch the surface of the future possibilities of the cloud. For more on the future of the cloud, check out “The Power and Future of Cloud Computing Part II.”
- Google. (2019). Future of cloud computing: A view of the future of cloud computing, through the eyes of the luminaries who helped build it. Retrieved from https://services.google.com/fh/files/misc/futurecloudcomputing.pdf
- Kaur, C. (2020). The cloud computing and Internet of Things (IoT). International Journal of Scientific Research in Science, Engineering and Technology (IJSRSET), 7(7), 19-22. doi: https://doi.org/10.32628/IJSRSET196657
Cloud computing concept over ladder leading upwards
Cloud computing with abstract high speed technology POV motion blur
Protect cloud information data concept. Security and safety of cloud computing.
Types of Cloud Computing
Infrastructure as a service concept in the digital world
PAAS digital concept - platform as a service
Software as a service - SaaS IT concept
Cloud computing technology concept with 3d rendering cyborg work with cloud