Cloud computing has undoubtedly been a disruptive and transformative revolution in corporate and consumer IT, as the services continue to become more robust and functional with the passing of each day. In many cases, businesses have already started to move away from rudimentary or one-dimensional uses of the technology, and toward far more complex and comprehensive leveraging of the tools for myriad needs and objectives.
Although it might seem as though the cloud's evolution has almost reached the point at which it will begin to flatten out, hitting a peak and then never truly going through the same level of advancement again, there is very little chance that this type of halt would ever happen. In fact, the market has become so competitive and complex that many of the major players are becoming more disruptive in their own right, releasing products and cloud services that were not even imaginable only two or three years ago.
One of the important trends of note in this area is the convergence of cloud computing with other aspects of corporate operations, specifically unified communications. Rather than having a sparse array of service management and delivery strategies for various communications and IT needs, the average organization appears to be honing in on the benefits and best practices of unification and integration.
After all, one of the primary reasons why businesses switch to cloud computing is the almighty dollar. They work to drive down the total cost of IT expenditures over time through more novel contracts and service agreements. The cloud market continues to be an exciting one, fueling the popularity and acceptance of other breakthrough trends such as mobility and big data, all the while revolutionizing the ways in which businesses operate.
What it takes to excel in the market
Cisco, one of the world's most powerful providers of networking equipment and solutions, recently featured Chris Gatch, Cbeyond's Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, among others from the firm in a video piece regarding the transformation of cloud services that has taken shape. Cbeyond has been at the forefront of the cloud revolution for years, working with exceptional partners such as Cisco to change the game and improve outcomes for its clientele.
"We're really just coming to the end of the beginning, which is really exciting because there is so far to go in terms of cloud," Gatch affirmed.
Cbeyond first focused on the communications aspects of business operations, releasing a Voice over Internet Protocol phone system.
"We had a fundamental belief that network was synergistic to cloud, and what we realized was that we could differentiate cloud services by bringing a high-quality portfolio of network product to the table, and that's what we really set out to do," Gatch explained. "Our style was to always choose a limited number of partners, partner over the long-term and partner deeply, and it never occurred to us to even think about entering the space without Cisco being on our side."
Paul Gies, Vice President of Business Development at Cbeyond, explained that the firm saw the ways in which communications technology was being commoditized, and decided to take a risk in tackling the convergence between higher bandwidth speeds and cloud services.
He went on to note that the firm has solidified its position as a technology ally rather than a service provider or vendor, and this has been driven by the combination of cloud and communications, as well as the partnerships that are in place. Cbeyond's leadership noted that the Cisco partnership has been invaluable in expanding the breadth, reliability and competitiveness of services offered to its clientele.
At the end of the day, the diversity and speed of new communications and IT solutions has made it clear that strong, mutually beneficial partnerships are critical to ensure long-term success in the cloud market, as well as other relevant industries. From small businesses to larger enterprises and public sector organizations, Cbeyond's services have helped to power operational performance improvements through the utilization of exceptional partners such as Cisco.
A look ahead
As leaders in the cloud computing market continue to show, the growing wave within the industry is pushing toward more robust and comprehensive utilization of the various technologies for a range of purposes and functions. In many ways, Infrastructure-as-a-Service has represented the major catalyst for change in this arena, working to improve the efficiency, power and comprehension of communications and IT frameworks through a single unified stack of solutions.
In 2013, research firm Gartner stated that the public cloud services market alone hit $111 billion in annual revenues globally in 2012, reached $131 billion last year and will continue to grow amid increased demand for IaaS. In fact, the analysts noted that IaaS is the fastest segment of the market, expanding in revenues by roughly 43.2 percent in 2012 to a $6.1 billion stature globally. What's more, Gartner predicted that IaaS will continue to undergo rapid growth, estimated as high as nearly 50 percent annually.
Notably, this ties back into the argument of integration and comprehension among IT and communications frameworks through the use of cloud computing as a foundation.
"The continued growth of the cloud services market will result from the adoption of cloud services for production systems and workloads, in addition to the development and testing scenarios that have led as the most prominent use case for public cloud services to date," Ed Anderson, research director at Gartner, affirmed. "Evidence of this growth is found in the increasing demand for cloud services from end-user organizations, met by an increased supply of cloud services from suppliers."
It is important to remember that while IT and UC become more integrated, the various services within the cloud are likewise shifting toward one another into more holistic and comprehensive frameworks.
Partnerships, convergence of IT and UC, more user-centric services and a fundamental shift in corporate IT management will likely continue to shape the cloud services market for years to come. Additionally, small businesses are expected to drive demand even more in the near future, while specialized providers including Cbeyond will be at the center of the cloud's evolution.