The Future of Cloud: Everything as a Service

In Cloud by Shelly Kramer2 Comments

Contrary to hype around cloud being the future of the enterprise, cloud computing is here and happening right now. The question businesses must focus on is not when but how to most effectively integrate cloud into their business operations. At the Washington, DC-based Collaborate conference held in early January of this year, Google X co-founder Tom Chi’s keynote address focused on innovation. Chi hypothesized that innovation comes from doing, not thinking (or guessing) and that failing fast isn’t what businesses should aim for—it’s learning fast that matters.

While he wasn’t specifically talking about the cloud industry, his words resonated with me as it relates to cloud computing. Today, 94 percent of businesses have plans to move, or have already moved, to cloud, and by 2017, it is estimated that two-thirds of all business operations will be processed on cloud. In these quickly changing times, enterprises have two options – figure out how to effectively adopt use of the cloud or watch while your competition moves ahead of you. Guesswork when it comes to cloud adoption will no longer suffice.

Businesses Leveraging the Cloud Platform with Everything-as-a-Service

We are almost beyond the era of transition and are gradually stepping into the phase of transforming our businesses with cloud. With the proliferation of cloud computing and mobile tech, more and more businesses are moving to a service model for everything they do. This is why the most popular cloud offering to date—Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)—is quickly giving way to what is being termed “Everything-as-a-Service” (EaaS). While the SaaS model is all about offering vendor-managed software and licensing, EaaS brings cloud-based management and outsourcing not only to software, but to hardware, processing, data management, and information tracking as well. EaaS is a more fully automated process of offering cloud services to businesses and end-users.

The Future of Cloud Computing: 4th Annual Survey 2014 is a collaboration between North Bridge and Gigaom Research, created in partnership with 72 collaborators, and widely regarded in the tech industry. It offers some interesting data about cloud:

  • 90 percent of the world’s data was created in the past two years
  • 80 percent of that data is unstructured
  • Approximately 66 percent of data is in the cloud today
  • That’s expected to grow to 77 perecent in two years
  • 50 percent of enterprise customers will have purchased as much cloud storage in 2014 as they have accumulated in their entire history

Here are three key ideas and findings presented in the report that focus on the EaaS/XaaS, as well as some interesting findings and observations pertaining to the rise of the Everything-as-a-Service (EaaS/XaaS) model driving cloud adoption:

Businesses are moving a significant portion of their business processes to cloud. The survey has found that 65-70 percent of respondents across all business sectors (except manufacturing), are planning to switch their processes to cloud over the next 12-24 months. The trend is witnessing staggering growth despite growing concerns over the expense of transitioning to the cloud. Hardware-based processes have always been expensive to maintain, while cloud maintenance is easier on our pockets. That said, the initial one-time investment in transitioning still has an impact on budgets that requires a commitment. It’s interesting to see businesses taking the cloud leap, and those who do are clearly recognizing the paying comes with the long-term benefits and cost savings associated with migrating to the cloud.

New applications are being developed on cloud. Use of app-based services is at an all-time high among enterprise users. If you’re going to deploy to the cloud, developing in the cloud just makes sense. Deploying to the cloud allows for continuous development/operations, and impacts things like team collaboration, accounting, inventory tracking, client servicing, and more. There’s an app (or you can develop an application internally) for almost anything offered via the cloud. Dev/Ops are absolutely the next level in cloud-based applications and that’s something IT teams are excited about. That’s why it’s more critical than ever for internal teams and IT teams to be connected and collaborating, as this kind of development can’t effectively happen in silos.

Businesses are relying on cloud for functions outside their core competencies. As the service area of cloud is expanding and including more and more capabilities, companies are increasingly seeking cloud services to outsource those processes outside of their core competency. For example, businesses have started outsourcing HR, recruiting, and talent acquisition activities to cloud services. IBM and HCL are two of the major names that offer cloud-based human resource outsourcing (HRO) services, and there are others in the space as well. As such, EaaS can be viewed as an extension of the SaaS model, but with more enhanced capabilities.

The emergence of EaaS as the next-gen model for cloud users is becoming increasingly significant due to the growing enterprise use of technology that’s no longer confined within the closed chambers of the IT department. BYOD and mobility are driving the tech transformations within organizations. Equally significant is the fact that employees aren’t waiting for cloud to happen. They recognize the role cloud plays in both collaboration and increased productivity, and they also are well aware of the value of cloud technology that allows them to be untethered and work from anywhere. They won’t sit around and wait for enterprise-wide adoption of cloud, they’ll use it anyway. That’s yet another reason it’s so important for businesses to get moving on the adoption and integration of cloud into their business operations – and to do more doing and embracing the opportunity to learn rapidly – and less thinking about doing.

The Future of Cloud Computing: 4th Annual Survey 2014 is chock-full of industry insights and interesting data about the current state of cloud adoption within the enterprise. Take a look at the slide share of the full survey for more insights and I’m sure you’ll agree that the future of cloud is now.

So, what about you? How have you implemented cloud-based services to expand or more fully develop your business offerings? Where do you see that going – in 2015 and beyond? What challenges to the integration of cloud within your organization are you experiencing? We would love to hear from you.

Additional resources on this topic:

7 Trends That Can Define the Future of Cloud Computing
Cloud Computing: Not Nearly Hyped Enough
Cloud Computing Adoption Continues Accelerating in the Enterprise

photo credit: Lumina 01 via photopin (license)

This post was brought to you by IBM for Midsize Business and opinions are my own. To read more on this topic, visit  IBM’s Midsize Insider. Dedicated to providing businesses with expertise, solutions and tools that are specific to small and midsized companies, the Midsize Business program provides businesses with the materials and knowledge they need to become engines of a smarter planet.

Shelly Kramer is a Principal Analyst and Founding Partner at Futurum Research. A serial entrepreneur with a technology centric focus, she has worked alongside some of the world’s largest brands to embrace disruption and spur innovation, understand and address the realities of the connected customer, and help navigate the process of digital transformation. She brings 20 years' experience as a brand strategist to her work at Futurum, and has deep experience helping global companies with marketing challenges, GTM strategies, messaging development, and driving strategy and digital transformation for B2B brands across multiple verticals. Shelly's coverage areas include Collaboration/CX/SaaS, platforms, ESG, and Cybersecurity, as well as topics and trends related to the Future of Work, the transformation of the workplace and how people and technology are driving that transformation. A transplanted New Yorker, she has learned to love life in the Midwest, and has firsthand experience that some of the most innovative minds and most successful companies in the world also happen to live in “flyover country.”


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