By now, many small-business owners might have grown a bit sick and tired of hearing the term "cloud computing," but they have no doubt begun to enjoy some significant performance improvements and financial advantages from the technology. As the years go on, cloud computing appears to get progressively bigger, which might lead many to wonder if the technology can go any higher, become more valuable or have an even more substantial impact on the private and public sectors.
Suffice it to say that all signs point to cloud services spreading further and higher in the coming years. The Internet of Things, unified communications, modern intelligence solutions, mobility, telecommuting, globalization and a range of other trends are pushing more operational processes and functions into the cloud with the passing of each day. In 2015, many of these trends gained significant traction, leading analysts to believe that they will explode into the average organization in the coming months.
The cloud itself has changed as well, especially in terms of the reasons behind corporate investments into the technology. For example, software was by and large the most massive segment of the cloud market going into 2015, but infrastructure caught on significantly throughout the year. Last May, Gartner reported that the Infrastructure-as-a-Service market would reach a total size of $16.5 billion this year, which is a nearly 33 percent gain compared to 2014.
What's more, the analysts predicted that IaaS will see a compound annual growth rate of 29.1 percent between last year and 2019, showing that a growing majority of organizations will run and host their IT in cloud-based environments. If you would like a little rundown of some of the trends that shaped the cloud computing market in 2015, check out this video from Algoworks Technologies on the matter:
Going back to the original question posited in the title of this article, it appears as though every time the world thinks the cloud has reached a proverbial plateau, the technology spreads even further and higher. Chances are this type of evolution will remain hot in the coming months, and the organizations that are quickest to the punch with respect to embracing new opportunities involving cloud services will likely be the best positioned to excel in their marketplaces.
A look back
Talkin' Cloud recently broke down some of the findings of a study from Soliant Consulting on the decisive trends and statistics that shaped the cloud computing market in 2015, affirming that utilization has diversified and expanded immensely. This can be seen everywhere - quite literally - as businesses, governments, nonprofits and consumers are all using cloud computing for a wider variety of purposes than ever before, and there are no signs that this growth is going to slow any time soon.
According to the news provider, the analysts found that nearly two-thirds of companies are using at least one private cloud service, and 88 percent are leveraging a public cloud for one reason or more. Interestingly, hybrid IT seemed to catch fire this year, as the source pointed out that 82 percent of companies have embraced public and private cloud computing services already, and many more are expected to do so in the coming years.
Hybrid clouds have been seen as the foundation of IT for the future given the increased ability to customize every aspect of provisioning, utilization and optimization regardless of what a company needs, including software, platforms and infrastructure. When this ability is wielded, the firm in question will be able to reduce IT waste and inefficiencies to a minimum, aligning every single purchase with a specific need or objective that sits at the core of its corporate mission.
Talkin' Cloud noted that the United States government saved $5.5 billion annually after migrating to the cloud, and that this further cemented the technology's stature as a cost-cutting solution in 2015. What's more, the news provider stated that cloud-based environments will host more than one-third of global data volume by December.
Again, this trend has burst out of the public and private sectors and into the consumer marketplace, especially in 2015. Talkin' Cloud quoted the finding of the Soliant report that revealed 95 percent of Americans are using the cloud today. Perhaps not that surprisingly, 71 percent do not actually know they are using the cloud.
"The cloud has entered the realm of utilities."
The future of cloud services
That final finding is notable when viewed through the perspective of long-standing predictions from analysts regarding the transition of the cloud away from a niche technology into a commonly used utility, similar to electricity or fuel. The fact that more than nine out of every 10 Americans are using cloud computing regularly, but fewer than a third know that they are, shows that the technology really has entered the realm of utility already, beating predictions by about a decade.
The sky will be the limit for the cloud computing market in 2016 and beyond, and this is especially true given the fact that more organizations are beginning to view the services as a tool that can empower innovation efforts. More affordable trial and error procedures, stronger financial and operational efficiency, improved communication and other core advantages of the cloud have direct applications within the realm of innovation, and this will likely tell the story of the market in the new year.
With competition rising and technological evolution accelerating, the cloud will become an even more fundamental requirement for modern operational management and employee enablement. Small-business owners who have not yet started to expand their cloud computing strategies to cover a wider range of needs and objectives should consider doing so in the coming months, as it will better position them to embrace other, valuable trends hitting the market such as the IoT, analytics and mobility.
By the end of 2016, chances are those companies with the most comprehensive and intelligent cloud strategies in place will enjoy strong profit margins and operational continuity.