2014 Future of the Cloud Survey has Surprises - Nice Ones for a Change

View from the Cloud

2014 Future of the Cloud Survey has Surprises - Nice Ones for a Change

By Peter Bernstein, Senior Editor  |  December 09, 2014

Did you know that 90 percent of the world’s data has been created in the last two years? Do you realize that 80 percent of it is unstructured? Why is this important? After Gigaom Research and North Bridge Venture Partners released their fourth 2014 Future of Cloud Computing survey, I had a chance to pick the brain of Michael Skok at Gigaom’s Structure event. Skok is founder of the Future of Cloud program and General Partner at North Bridge Venture Partners. He believes that, within three years, more data will live in the cloud than anywhere else.

Skok noted that, “With four years of data, we’re now really beginning to see some interesting trends, such as the five-fold increase in SaaS (News - Alert) adoption to 74 percent, and the nearly six-fold increase in PaaS adoption to 41 percent.”

Mike Schutz, GM, Cloud Platform Marketing at Microsoft (News - Alert) commented that: What comes across to me loud and clear is that even more businesses are no longer asking, ‘why cloud?’ but will focus on figuring out how to execute a long-term cloud strategy.” Here are some additional thoughts from that survey that help explain not only current trends, but the future of cloud computing.

IaaS and PaaS Adoption Reaching a Tipping Point: While the adoption of SaaS is not that surprising given the popularity of cloud-based apps, what is going to be something to watch is that 56 percent of businesses are using IaaS technologies to harness elastic computing resources, while 41 percent of businesses are using PaaS to prototype and develop new applications.

These two findings, Skok said, validate what the value of the cloud: “It only makes sense that if it is going to run in the cloud, or be integrated with the cloud, that it also be developed and tested in the cloud. Plus, the cloud enables development and testing to be much faster and less costly, and in many ways allows for developers to do things that would be otherwise impossible.”

Transition to cloud – The First Cloud Front: “This wave of cloud computing that’s revenue- and new business-driven is good news for long-suffering IT execs,” said David Card, Vice President of Gigaom Research. “If they can offload tedious but necessary cost-center functions, and refocus resources on cloud-driven new business, they might be able to retake their seat at the C-table.”

“Even though it’s largely just a transition of existing apps, the first cloud front has rolled in confidently each year as existing applications transition to the cloud and are adopted as SaaS solutions. Cloud is now integral to business,” added Skok.

Transformation in the cloud – The Second Cloud Front: This is where things get interesting. Skok and others have observed that, thanks to the explosion of personal devices and the IoT tsunami of connected devices, sensors and embedded capabilities, the second phase of the growth of the cloud is going to dwarf what we have already witnessed. “With over 11,000 Cloud Services/APIs, and developer adoption of IaaS at 56 percent and PaaS at 46 percent respectively, we are going to begin seeing the birth of new, re-imagined, cloud-native applications,” said Skok. “These applications, which are only possible in the cloud, will result in an order of magnitude greater value creation than the first cloud front. This second cloud front will be transformative." Cloud Inhibitors: On the inhibitor front, security continues to be a strong barrier to adoption. In fact, 49 percent of respondents are concerned about how secure their data is in the cloud. Ironically, one of the big messages coming out of Gigaom’s Structure event is that the cloud, particularly public cloud, despite its multi-tenancy, is seen as being more secure over time than private clouds and premises-based traditional approaches. As an inhibitor, this may melt into the background as the industry does a better job of educating IT and C-levels that giving up ownership is not giving up control.

Interoperability as an inhibitor saw a significant decrease from 27 percent last year to 17 percent in 2014, with greater attention being paid to issues like data portability. However, fear of vendor lock-in was still 29 percent, which put focus on open source cloud projects, like OpenStack, that have grown significantly. This is not trivial. Indeed, the realities are that all clouds are not created equal and don’t necessarily play well with each other on purpose – end users are going to have to exert themselves to make everyone play nicely in the sandbox.

Mike Reigel, Vice President, Cloud Marketing, Cisco (News - Alert) observes that: “The customers who are enjoying the greatest success with cloud are taking a hybrid approach to IT. Instead of building internally or sourcing externally, these customers view cloud as a continuous set of interconnected and interdependent options.”

The bottom line, regardless of specific cloud strategy, is that there is widespread acknowledgement that we must make change our friend and not something to fear. After all, people remain the most important ingredient to success, and somebody needs to turn all of the masses of data into actions that can create differentiated and sustainable value.

Edited by Maurice Nagle
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