Why 2015 was the year of the cloud, and 2016 will be too

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Cloud computing has amassed unstoppable momentum, but it’s just getting started.

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2015 was the year that cloud computing went mainstream, becoming a preferred option for everyone from individuals to giant, conservative enterprises. In 2016, the cloud—and I'm talking the public cloud, not the un-cloud that's often called the "private cloud"—will increasingly become the default option for everything from storage to computing to apps to analytics. In fact, I'm convinced we're going to see more and more instances where companies rip and replace functioning on-premise solutions to move to the cloud.

Let's take a look at some of the cloud news I covered over 2015:

April: Earnings reports from Amazon and Microsoft conclusively confirm what we should have already known: cloud computing is on a rampage.

May: Game giant Zynga abandons its hugely expensive move to its own data centers and returns to the Amazon cloud. Basically, the company ripped and replaced a $100 million data center investment in favor of the cloud. That's pretty darn dramatic.

July: IDC says nearly one-third of all IT infrastructure spending is now devoted to cloud computing. Companies are voting cloud with their wallets.

July: Cloud to consume almost half of IT infrastructure sales by 2019. If that's not evidence that the cloud is winning, I don't know what is.

October: Amazon and Microsoft post big cloud computing earnings. Again. The big cloud providers are growing so fast they don't know what to do with all the money they're making.

October: AWS re:Invent draws huge crowds and introduces products and services designed to make moving to the cloud safe for even the most conservative enterprises. 

October: In a $67 billion reaction to the cloud's growth, Dell buys EMC in the largest tech deal ever. Analysts are split whether Dell is either trying to move deeper into the cloud or fight the cloud's dominance.

That's far from a complete picture, of course. As a blogger, I pick and choose what I want to cover during the year. But even the 2015 cloud computing stories I didn't cover point up the technology's increasing dominance.

Sure, HP said it would quit the public cloud business, but that's mainly because it couldn't keep up with the runaway success of Amazon and a few others. In November, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said the cloud—including the public cloud—was "acceptable" for fintech firms to use.

Even as analyst firms are busy upping their projections of public cloud growth, I'm not sure that they understand the magnitude of what's happening here.

It won't be long—maybe not in 2016, but soon—before any computing project that doesn't happen in the cloud will have to spend many cycles justifying what will be seen as an old-fashioned and inefficient approach. 

A few companies still generate their own electricity, but they're rare and special cases. That's the kind of market dominance cloud computing is headed for. And we're likely to get there faster than we think.

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