UK Cloud Awards – the future is now | Cloud industry forum

UK Cloud Awards – the future is now

By Max Cooter, for the Cloud Industry Forum

The publication of the shortlist for the UK Cloud Awards is a timely demonstration of how far we’ve come in the world of cloud.  We’ve come a long way 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, look at the range of user organisations who 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 pervasive presence with the UK’s IT departments.

There’s certainly been an overwhelming change. It’s hard to think now that when the Cloud Industry Forum was formed, 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 that there was not enough mileage in the technology to justify specialised awards. The last half a dozen years and the hundreds of entries have shown how misguided that was.

The plain fact is that cloud usage is growing and growing significantly. According to Right Scale’s annual State of the Cloud report, there’s been particular growth in expenditure on public cloud services: enterprises plan to spend 24 percent more on public cloud in 2019 than they did in 2018 and the gap between public and private is ever-growing (expenditure on the latter is set to grow by just eight percent this year)

The other major change is the way that competitors, particularly Microsoft, are chipping away at Amazon Web Services’ massive lead 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’s situation is changing all the time. According to Right Scale, Azure adoption has now reached 85 percent of AWS adoption, up from 70 percent 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.

One thing is absolutely clear is that this cloud take-up is set to grow even more.  A just-published survey from Gartner suggests that the public cloud market will grow 17.5 percent in 2019, reaching a quite staggering $214 billion – an enormous market for something that was thought to be a bit of a fad 10 years ago.

And the growth isn’t going to stop there. According to Sid Nag, research vice president at Gartner, we’re going to see ever-increasing growth. “At Gartner, we know of no vendor or service provider today whose business model offerings and revenue growth are not influenced by the increasing adoption of cloud-first strategies in organizations. What we see now is only the beginning, though. Through 2022, Gartner projects the market size and growth of the cloud services industry at nearly three time the growth of overall IT services.”

As an indication of this shake-up, look at the employment prospects of IT professionals – here we might be seeing the biggest change of them all. In the early days of cloud, there was much talk of how the onset of cloud would throw technical staff out of work. The computing press talked doom and gloom about the long-term job prospects of IT professionals as companies moved workloads to the cloud. Such fears have been unfounded, however, the signs are that knowledge of cloud is the portal to a lucrative career. According to a recent survey by Global Knowledge, the certifications that lead to the biggest incomes are nearly all cloud ones – three of the top five big bucks qualifications are for cloud professionals.  It’s almost certain that that will grow in years to come.

Perhaps the biggest indicator of how big the cloud market is now is with the news of the US Department of Defense’s Jedi contract – a whopping $10 billion’s worth of cloud expertise. Reports indicate that AWS and Microsoft are scrapping for this one; a nice little earner for one of the big cloud  players. It’s not just the size of the contract that will raise eyebrows, it’s the nature of it. Security used to be the big fear about cloud; for the DoD to shrug off those concerns so publicly is a big indication that those fears were exaggerated.  Who knows, maybe next year, the British government will have its own major project to put forward for the Cloud Awards.

Certainly, the signs are that this progress will continue for some time and that we can expect to see more organisations turn to cloud. That’s not to say that the UK Cloud Awards are unchanging: there are several recent trends that haven’t been reflected in the awards.

We’re certainly not seeing much evidence of the growth in multi-cloud implementations (and the rise of cloud brokers who put these together). As businesses get more used to the demands of cloud, we can expect to see much more experimentation with different services and the use of specialised providers.

Nor are we seeing much in the way of cloud native software and providers. The rise in products like Docker and Kubernetes has changed the landscape considerably and we’re starting to see many more enterprises build cloud deployments from the bottom up, using these types of technology – expecting to see much more.

And, while we’re at the start of the journey, we’re going to see more artificial intelligence in the future – we’re already starting to see the first vendors talk of AIAAS and this is going to be a trend that will surely continue.

These are exciting times for the cloud industry: for users and providers alike. The UK Cloud Awards continue to reflect this excitement – may it long continue.

UK Cloud Awards 2019