Digital Planet: Top 3 Trends of the New Year

Cloud computing has completely transformed the way companies operate and professionals access technology resources. In less than a decade, the move to the cloud has reshaped the technology asset provision business model, leading to fewer hardware and licensed software purchases and more software- and infrastructure-as-a-service (SaaS and IaaS) activity.

It’s easy to understand why businesses are moving to the cloud. Cloud-based operations are more agile since users can scale up and down instantly to handle demand fluctuations. Costs are typically lower since users don’t have to invest in infrastructure assets. Users can access systems and services across a variety of devices. And since cloud service providers take on maintenance tasks, cloud users don’t have to worry about performing systems upgrades.

These are some of the main factors that have driven cloud adoption over the past several years. But will this major shift in business technology strategy continue into 2016 and beyond? Here are the top three cloud computing trends to watch in 2016:

More companies will adopt a cloud strategy, and cloud spending will increase. A couple of years ago, industry analyst Gartner predicted that spending on cloud computing would make up the lion’s share of overall IT spending by 2016. That prediction is looking more prescient every day. A recent Forbes article that compiled insights from respected analysts such as International Data Corporation, Forrester, Gartner, Ovum, Wikibon, and others projected that the global SaaS marketing would grow from $49B in 2015 to $67B in 2018. The article also estimated that spending on IaaS would reach $16.5B in 2015, a growth rate of nearly 33 percent from 2014.

Hybrid cloud computing will continue to be a popular option and grow at a faster pace. As enterprises move to the cloud, IT teams and operations personnel are evaluating their options. Public clouds offer cost savings and convenience, but some companies require the ability to add layers of security and customization, so they opt for a private cloud. Increasingly, purchasers are choosing the best of both worlds: a hybrid cloud that can house non-sensitive data on a public cloud while storing crucial systems and sensitive data on a private cloud. As of last year, private and hybrid cloud adoption rates were slightly behind public cloud growth. In 2016 and beyond, hybrid options will grow at a faster rate as more companies choose the convenience of the public cloud and the security of the private cloud.

More staff will be involved in the cloud adoption decision process. One of the hallmarks of the cloud is convenience: Armed only with a credit card, business unit leaders can instantly acquire the computing power they need to support expanded operations and scale up to handle major projects. That’s one of the key advantages of the cloud

An IDG Enterprise Cloud Computing Study found that 23 percent of cloud spending takes place outside of IT, and that number is expected to rise. It makes sense because users are closer to the business drivers that prompt cloud adoption. However, it’s also important to bring IT into the decision-making process to ensure that the cloud resources brought on board comply with security standards, cost-efficiency guidelines and other business imperatives.

Virtually all analysts and industry experts agree that cloud adoption will continue to grow in the coming years. The opportunities for efficiency, convenience, and cost savings are too great to resist. Security was the one concern that kept some enterprises from moving to the cloud, but cloud security has improved to such an extent that many businesses are safer with their data and systems in the cloud than they are storing information and core operating assets in-house.

Hybrid options will hasten the move to the cloud, and the decisions about adding cloud assets will increasingly involve non-IT personnel, but it’s vitally important for IT experts to provide guidance. These concepts are the key currents driving enterprise cloud strategy now. All were factors in 2015, but they will accelerate in 2016 and beyond.

By Bill Carey

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