Cloud storage is an interesting phenomenon. For anyone who is unsure about what the ‘cloud’ is, put simply it is a means of storing and accessing data and programmes on the Web, freeing up space on computer hard drives. It is easy to understand its advantages, especially for businesses that need to store large amounts of data.
Cloud computing is big for business
And, to date, it is largely businesses and government-based organisations that use cloud computing. For example, over 60% of firms use the cloud for their IT-related operations and it is increasingly chosen by healthcare providers to store images from CT scans, MRIs and the like. Education services, the financial sector and even the construction industry are also using the cloud because it is efficient and it adds a valuable mobile access to information element.
Consumers slower to adopt the cloud
However, it must also be said that whilst corporate entities have adopted the cloud, it has been more difficult to engage the average computer user. There is a reason for this, and it is not because the individual doesn’t understand the cloud; it is because there are fewer ways for them to access cloud computing. For example, business customers can choose from a range of cloud computing systems, whilst the consumer only really has Google Drive, Apple iCloud and Amazon Cloud Drive to choose from, but this might change if they were made more aware of the advantages of the cloud for the personal user. Sometimes we are not even aware that we are using the cloud, but every time you consult a Google Map, or download a coupon, you are accessing cloud storage of information.
Multi-cloud trend expands the industry
Economically the cloud is important. Seagate, a cloud solutions business, estimated in 2013 that the U.S. market for cloud related equipment, i.e. servers, storage, networking hardware and high-speed links, would be worth around $79 billion in 2018. In 2017, Gartner says it will be worth $240 billion in 2018, much of this due to the growth in the use of multi-cloud services. This is a new and growing trend, where a business uses as many as four cloud computing providers. There are good reasons for this; it reduces vulnerability. Organisations prefer a multi-cloud strategy to avoid any “keeping all your eggs in one basket” problems that could leave them vulnerable to a variety of issues, such as cloud data centre outages, bandwidth problems and vendor lock-in.
And a report by Ovum suggest that 25 percent of European “are unhappy with their cloud service provider largely due to poor service performance, weak service-level guarantees and a lack of personalised support.” However, a lot of work is being done on rectifying these issues and streamlining the transference of data storage between multi-cloud systems.
One hint we have that multi-cloud environments are the future comes from Google, which has recently purchased Orbitera, a platform that supplies multi-cloud commerce. Although, Google still faces stiff competition from Amazon Web Services in this arena, but it is clear that ‘cloud wars’ may be coming simply because businesses want to avoid being locked in to one vendor. Increased competition will be good news for the businesses looking for flexibility and cost savings, as well as better cloud computing solutions,
The cloud is growing fast – you only have to look at the revenues for Amazon Web Services, Microsoft and Google in early 2017 to realise that despite cynicism from some analysts, the cloud is an IT sector that is going to shape the future.