Mega increase in cloud adoption underway

Is your business ready?

business cloud services flowchart
Thinkstock

No matter how you look at it, the cloud is growing fast.

To compare the market’s growth to the rest of IT, cloud computing is expanding seven times faster than non-cloud computing, according to a report from IDC released on February 21.

To gauge the business decision-maker, the State of the cloud Survey gives us a good sense of how adoption decisions are changing, along with other internal insights. The 2017 version of the poll, based on the responses of 1,002 IT executives, found that the concerns related to cloud that have held back a higher degree of adoption are taking a nosedive. While 32% listed lacking expertise and resources as a top challenge last year, that number dropped to 25% this year.

Security worries are also headed south, dropping from 29 to 25% from 2016 to 2017 (understandable given the strong vocal advocacy for cloud security in recent press). The poll also found that the drop in worries was reflected in the choice of cloud for large portions of organizations' IT needs: an incredible 81% of the workloads processed by companies assessed in the poll are handled in cloud, 38% of it private and 41% public (while those figures are 43% and 32% for enterprises, respectively).

Finally, growth of the market as a whole deserves attention. Gartner estimated market growth at $246.8 billion in 2016 and projected it to grow to $246.8 billion in 2017, an 18% CAGR. "Public cloud infrastructure" – cloud Hosting – was predicted by Gartner to grow 36.8% in 2017 as it achieved a $34.6 billion market. An update from Gartner in October showed that the initial figures were actually too conservative. The new forecast projects growth for 2017 instead at 18.5%. Rather than achieving $246.8 billion globally, public cloud services would instead measure in at $260.2 billion.

Why cloud is growing

Two of the chief reasons that cloud is growing so fast are that its architecture is preferable to businesses and that it delivers a strong return on investment (ROI).

Related to the first issue, any cloud system essentially has two components, the front and back ends. These two "ends" can communicate with one another via a network, which can potentially be internal if it’s a private cloud but typically involves the internet.

The software and network of a user's device is the frontend. The frontend serves as an interface to exchange data and requests with the backend. The backend, which is what you will typically hear referenced as "The cloud," is actually the servers and data center storage technologies of a hosting service (except in the case of internally operated private clouds).

This architecture may sound boring and functional, but, importantly, it allows you to access your backend through the internet, from various locations simultaneously as desired. A centralized cloud server (a virtual machine rather than a physical one) is the intersection of the front and back ends. This technology, the centerpiece of the cloud Hosting service, allows you to respond to user requests and monitor traffic seamlessly.

In terms of return on investment, the IT conference Interop ITX’s 2017 State of the cloud report found that lower cost was listed alongside speed, reach, access, and scalability as a top cloud benefit. This cost reduction creates an environment in which powerful ROI is likelier to occur – which it does. According to 2017 figures cited by cloud Academy, when enterprises are at the most mature level of cloud adoption, their costs drop $1 million and their revenues rise $3 million per cloud app.

Preparation key for cloud migration

Getting yourself ready ahead of time will ensure both that your system is properly secured from the start and that you can transition as quickly as possible. Follow these steps for an efficient yet conscientious transition.

Assess the data and application

Make sure that the program you are considering will work best in public cloud. You want to be careful about using the public cloud for highly sensitive workloads such as payment data or for other mission-critical systems. In these cases, you can integrate public and private clouds, and possibly legacy systems as well, through a hybrid model.

It is important to note that cloud technologies are broadly accepted within the compliance community; even the agency that regulates healthcare law, the HHS Department, notes that organizations handling health records "may use cloud-based services of any configuration (public, hybrid, private, etc.)" – as long as appropriate risk analysis, management, and business associate agreement terms are in place.

Prioritize security

Be aware of the security practices and mechanisms of your cloud host or cloud service provider. It is important to understand the extent to which the system is able to keep data private.

As noted in cloud Computing News, security becomes more complex when you consider that you may have cloud and dedicated legacy systems to secure. There is now data in at least two places. cloud software has its own security rules as well.

Having various locations for data and numerous security parameters can be bewildering from an IT perspective, which can result in inefficiency. The security policy you have should be integrated so that you are protecting both traditional and cloud apps with one set of policy and technology management guidelines.

Write a migration game plan

  • Create a cloud migration plan for a step-by-step path. This plan should include the repurposing, sale, or storage of enterprise hardware as applicable.
  • Come up with a calendar for the migration. You can either transition comprehensively or piecemeal, workload by workload.

In the past, many companies were hesitant to transition to cloud due to concerns with control and security. Now that the technologies supporting this powerful model of computing have matured, organizations are realizing greater benefits. The most well-positioned firms take steps to prepare so that their cloud migration is smooth and secure.

This article is published as part of the IDG Contributor Network. Want to Join?

Join the Network World communities on Facebook and LinkedIn to comment on topics that are top of mind.
Related:
Now read: 10 new UI features coming to Windows 10