The cloud is putting up some big deployment numbers in recent months, leading many analysts to ponder not whether it will become the dominant form of IT, but when.
According to IDC’s most recent forecast, the total cloud infrastructure spend will top $32.6 billion this year, a 24.1 percent increase over 2014. This includes the server, storage and Ethernet switch markets without even double counting server/storage deployments as additions to both servers and storage. In total, this accounts for about a third of all IT infrastructure spending, up from about 28 percent last year. Even more telling, though, is the 1.6 percent drop in non-cloud spending, which indicates that even money going into legacy data centers is being earmarked for private and hybrid clouds.
Also interesting is that this is happening at a time when there are still some serious roadblocks when it comes to enterprise cloud adoption. As Bracket Computing’s Navneet Singh noted recently, security, control and performance consistency remain the largest drawbacks. Practically every day, however, these issues are becoming less intractable as hybrid infrastructure, unified management stacks, software-defined networking and a host of other advancements make it easier to run multiple cloud deployments as a single data ecosystem.
But getting back to the new question in cloud circles: How quickly will it become the de facto IT? According to Enterprise Innovations’ Carol Ko, this was the subject of a rather heated argument at the Hong Kong Cloud Tech Forum over the summer, with some presenters like Cloud Transformation & Security Solutions CEO Jerry Wertelecky saying it will happen within a decade, and others, like China CITIC Bank International CIO Michael Leung, saying that it will take longer, particularly in highly regulated industries like banking and health care. Others noted that certain workloads are suitable for the cloud while others are not, so there is the question of whether cloud-based apps will truly emerge as the engines of growth going forward.
And according to Forbes’ Joe McKendrick, there are even some signs that critical activity in the cloud has plateaued of late. A recent survey by Deloitte suggests that while the efficacy of the cloud is well-known, there has actually been little gain in pushing critical workloads off of traditional infrastructure. At the moment, top cloud applications include ERP/CRM, finance and accounting, warehousing/analytics and salesforce automation. The meaning of this is still open to interpretation, however: Does this leveling off represent the peak of activity, or just a lull on the way to further growth?
One thing is certain, though: The cloud is here and it’s not going anywhere. And it could very well be that the cloud will emerge as the primary form of IT, not because it will suddenly house all of the traditional applications that make the enterprise hum, but newer, more efficient and more cloud-friendly apps that will push IT into an entirely new direction. Already, initiatives like mobile computing, social networking and collaboration are the preferred tools of the millennial generation, which is just now entering the digital workforce.
In that regard, it won’t be the cloud simply taking over IT, but creating an entirely new data ecosystem.
Arthur Cole writes about infrastructure for IT Business Edge. Cole has been covering the high-tech media and computing industries for more than 20 years, having served as editor of TV Technology, Video Technology News, Internet News and Multimedia Weekly. His contributions have appeared in Communications Today and Enterprise Networking Planet and as web content for numerous high-tech clients like TwinStrata and Carpathia. Follow Art on Twitter @acole602.