Cloud computing is a fundamental part of most enterprise-level organizations today. And businesses of all sizes are quickly migrating their operations, software and data to the cloud, because it offers precisely what’s needed to compete in today’s fast-moving digital environment:
- Reduced costs
- Increased performance
- And greater security
Cloud technology can drive innovation in any business by providing speed and agility at scale while efficiently dealing with security. But how does cloud technology lead to these benefits? And how will it change and grow in the future?
Let’s get specific. Cloud computing is the delivery of digital services (that were traditionally performed by physical computers) over the internet. These services include data storage, database hosting, networking, servers, analytics, and more.
Today, instead of having to invest in hardware and build and maintain physical servers with all the IT implications that brings (like managing and maintaining infrastructure), cloud computing offers a much more affordable, secure and productive approach to operations, product delivery and data storage.
Some of the core benefits of cloud computing over traditional IT solutions include:
Reduction of costs
To begin with, by leveraging the cloud a business can eliminate the costs of building and maintaining a physical data center, which ultimately leads to lower operating costs. There is no need to buy hardware, or to have a place to put it, or to pay for electricity to maintain it and employ the IT staff to manage it.
A cloud service runs all of this over an internet connection, and businesses only pay for access to the cloud service.
Higher performance goes hand-in-hand with cloud computing. For one, businesses no longer have to maintain physical servers to store their data or power their software. Physical servers require time-consuming administration, including hardware setup, software patching, and other IT obligations.
A cloud computing solution, in contrast, can eliminate the need for many of these hurdles and enable developers and IT teams to focus on what matter most: improving their digital products and streamlining the experience for internal software users and for end-use customers.
Another important boon for performance using cloud computing is the efficiency of its hardware. Computer hardware constantly evolves in order to solve more complex problems, always faster than before. If an enterprise runs its own data center, that business must keep hardware upgraded to the latest generation of technology in order to enjoy the full benefits. This, of course, implicates enormous costs and use of resources.
The latest generation of hardware is always expensive, and implementing and fine-tuning it requires an even greater investment. Today, the biggest cloud computing services are constantly upgrading to the latest generation of computing hardware. This enables businesses of all sizes to leverage next-gen technologies while reducing costs and saving time.
Finally, the majority of cloud computing services are provided on-demand. As a result, a Goldilocks standard of computing resources is always available a click away. This frees businesses from capacity concerns and provides them with power at the same time with flexibility.
It’s natural to wonder if, with data processed over the internet using a cloud computing solution, security might be compromised. However, the truth is the opposite.
Cloud services offer a broad set of policies, controls, technologies and procedures that work together in one place to strengthen security and protect user data and privacy. In fact, because a cloud service represents multiple businesses whose data is stored in one place, it actually reduces the workload of IT teams to enable them to focus more on data security.
Now that we’ve reviewed the basics of how and why cloud computing services are revolutionizing business operations and data security, let’s take a trip down the history of cloud technologies—and then look to the future.
Cloud computing in the past
For some, cloud computing feels like a relatively new technology. But at its roots, the basic concept can be traced back in the 1950s.
In the middle of the 20th century, organizations were using a system of huge and expensive computers to process data. These were always enterprise-level businesses, each of which was required to purchase one or two of these computers and then implement “time-sharing” schedules for the best possible ROI.
Of course, with the investment in those cutting-edge technologies almost 70 years ago, cloud computing was an extremely expensive asset—in contrast with today, where cloud computing actually reduces business costs.
A form of cloud computing more like what we have today emerged in the 1990s, 40 years after its initial appearance. In the ‘90s, it was bandwidth that could be shared. It was also in this generation of the cloud that the invention of the Virtual Machine by IBM and Web 2.0 took hold.
Other milestones that brought their own revolutions in cloud computing history include:
- The arrival of Salesforce in 1999
- And the browser and app-based applications by Google and Microsoft after 2009
These services did something spectacular for the market. They exemplified how to deliver a massive scale of enterprise applications through a simple website. From 1999 onward, cloud computing started to spread, and has kept growing ever since.
Today and tomorrow of cloud computing
Today, cloud computing is a much more approachable solution for businesses of all sizes, and has been in the core of development in most organizations for years. More businesses are migrating away from traditional data centers because of the enormous opportunities cloud computing can offer to their operations and the delivery and security of products and services.
Based on a recent survey by RightScale, 81% of companies with more than 1,000 employees have a multi-platform business strategy. By 2024, that number is expected to increase by more than 90%. Moreover, global spending on cloud services is expected to grow by 73%, from $160 billion to $277 billion in the next five years.
Based on this data and the ever-increasing demand of computing power due to the scale and complexity of today’s digital products, it’s safe to say that, in the next few years, cloud computing will continue to evolve. The cloud will revolutionize the way IT teams operate, and ultimately change the business model “best practices” across all industries.