The journey to the cloud – where next? | Cloud industry forum

The journey to the cloud – where next?

By Alex Hilton, CEO Cloud Industry Forum

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In 2009, the Cloud Industry Forum was founded with the goal of helping to educate and inform businesses about the possibilities and potential of cloud technology. Ten years later, with cloud adoption (according to our research) at 90 per cent, our work is surely done!

In truth, it is barely the end of the beginning. The nascent Cloud Industry Forum initiated an annual survey of cloud uptake as a guide to its member companies on key aspects of the development of their markets. Ten years on, these markets are maturing fast.

The recent publication of the shortlist for the UK Cloud Awards is a timely demonstration of how far we’ve come from the days of the early adopters, when devotees could be numbered on the fingers of one hand. Just look at the companies who are now competing for the Cloud Awards. In particular, the range of user organisations that have completed cloud projects – Manchester Utd, Lloyds TSB, Sky and the Financial Conduct Authority – represent an interesting cross-section of British commercial life. When you throw in a range of public sector bodies, it’s clear that cloud has become a widespread presence with the UK’s IT departments



There’s certainly been an overwhelming change. In 2009 there was still a feeling that cloud computing was some sort of fad. There were plenty of dissenting voices who said that the security implications of cloud were so grave, it would be a technology reserved for crackpots. And, even in 2013, when the UK Cloud Awards came into being, there were still some people within the industry who thought there was not enough mileage in the technology to justify specialised awards. The last six years and the hundreds of entries have shown how misguided that was.

The availability of the raw computing power provided by cloud has now triggered the onset of the next generation of technologies, that are set to really make a difference to our lives and our business capabilities – notably artificial intelligence and the internet of things.

Our cloud journey really is only starting. The target is moving, and the goal is continual evolution and improvement of business services that enable us to continue to innovate and improve for the benefit of our customers and ultimately the bottom line. With cloud technology we have a toolset that will change the way businesses think and act, ensuring a competitive landscape for years to come.

These new technological and business capabilities present very real opportunities for both businesses and vendors, but vendors need to hone their offerings and capabilities for this to happen. They need to provide real insight into how AI can impact in specific verticals, demonstrating how to reshape channels to go to market, and how to accelerate innovation in the exploitation of IoT. How will these new capabilities impact cyber-security, and can regulatory compliance be assured? These are issues that will need to be resolved before these next generation technologies can truly disrupt the UK business landscape. 



The other major change is the way that competitors, particularly Microsoft, are chipping away at the massive lead Amazon Web Services has in the public cloud market. When the UK Cloud Awards were first instigated, AWS was really the only public cloud provider with a significant presence. That situation is changing all the time. According to Right Scale, Azure adoption has now reached 85 per cent of AWS adoption, up from 70 per cent last year: still a long way to go, but a sign that AWS’s ownership of the market is coming to an end. And with Google and Oracle being more aggressive in this space, the scene is set for a fascinating battle in the months ahead which will continue to deliver benefits to the businesses that use the technology.

One thing is absolutely clear: cloud take-up is set to grow even more. A new survey from Gartner suggests that the public cloud market will grow by 17.5 per cent in 2019, reaching a staggering $214billion – an enormous market for something dismissed as a gimmick 10 years ago.