Cloud eight years on: From inflated expectations to enterprise adoption

It is 2018 and nearly every consumer has heard of, come into contact with or purchased cloud services in one form or another. Many of us are now dependent on cloud benefits as many of the most common life experiences such as listening to music, watching television and learning in a classroom have all been improved by the ability to access, manage and purchase IT resources online.

Businesses are no different. Enterprises are now leveraging the efficiency and on-demand access of cloud more than ever to speed innovation, cut costs and improve productivity. But like many other revolutionary solutions before it, cloud faced many obstacles in early adoption.

A look back at marketing hype: Cloud “everything”

As soon as cloud hit its stride in 2010, IT analysts, vendors and customers began asking if cloud was ‘here to stay or is it one of these hyped subjects that inevitably will be forgotten in a couple of years’ time?’ Sure enough, no more than a year later in 2011 (according to Gartner’s 2011 Hype Cycle for Cloud Computing), cloud had taken the first step in answering this question by moving beyond the ’Peak of Inflated Expectations’ and straight into the ’Trough of Disillusionment’.

At the time, critics cited ‘cloud washing’ as evidence that cloud could never live up to our expectations. Cloud was everywhere. Eventually, this cloud washing helped accelerate its complete dislocation from reality. Fast forward to 2018 and we could reasonably ask if anything but cloud is here to stay. In fact, not only has cloud met our “inflated expectations” of 2011, but also it has arguably surpassed what we imagined to be possible. Turns out that we weren’t wrong about the potential of cloud, we were just early.

No longer just for non-critical data

One of the more surprising realities of cloud as we move into 2018 has been the rate of business adoption of public cloud services for mission critical applications. Just a few years ago, many of us were convinced that public cloud was great – but was most appropriate for archive, backup and other business “non-critical” data. Non-critical was seen as the “appetiser” of data; the “main course” (mission critical data) would always remain on-premises.

What a difference a few years make. Today, SAP, Oracle and other mission critical, traditionally “on-premises” applications are being efficiently run in public clouds. In fact, a recent survey from the 451 Group suggests that three in five (60%) enterprise workloads will run in the cloud by mid-2018, up from around two in five (41%) today.

Remembering the past and planning for the future

While it is true that cloud has become as pervasive as the on-premises hardware it is replacing, it’s important to remember that there is no “one size fits all” cloud. In fact, if there exists any hype in cloud today, it is that any one cloud can be a panacea for all our IT challenges. As a result, smart enterprises are focusing on cloud vendors that lead with attributes that directly contribute to running applications and, therefore, a business.

Looking back seven years, we certainly did a great job of hyping cloud beyond all reasonable expectations. But as the cloud momentum continues to press onward, enterprises are developing a plan for the future of their IT landscape with cloud providers in mind. Businesses are requiring their cloud provider to have industry leading performance, efficiency and flexibility across a plethora of integrated cloud platforms, software and managed services.

Additionally, as cloud technologies become more intricate and pervasive, companies will rely on the cloud provider’s ability to meet their most demanding enterprise requirements for complex, mission critical applications and data requiring enterprise-class object storage. And lastly, in the future, enterprises will need a cloud provider who can quickly and efficiently build hyper scale cloud environments that provide customers with significant economies of scale, resource flexibility and enterprise control.

In 2018 we see no signs of cloud adoption slowing. In fact, according to the RightScale 2017 State of the Cloud Report, in the UK 95% of respondents are using cloud with 85% of enterprises reporting that they have a multi-cloud strategy – so we predict that this trajectory will just continue to grow.