Cloud computing refers to storing and accessing data and programs over the Internet instead of on your own computers. The “cloud” is a metaphor for the Internet. When you hear the term “cloud,” you can translate that to “someone else’s computer.”
However, things are not quite as uncloudy as that in terms of grasping what cloud means. Sometimes, when folks refer to cloud they are talking about a type of development using APIs and microservices. And for private cloud (or local cloud) implementations there may be no Internet access involved. It can get confusing.
The clear direction these days is that many components of the IT infrastructure are moving from on premises to the cloud. Enterprises are choosing which applications, and how much of the infrastructure supporting those applications, should be moved into the cloud.
There are several options that can be chosen. The Public Cloud refers to an infrastructure that is provisioned by a cloud provider for open use by the general public. The Private Cloud is where the infrastructure is typically provisioned solely for a single organization, whether managed internally or by a third-party and hosted internally or externally. Finally, a Hybrid Cloud solution is a combination of two or more clouds bound together, delivering the benefits of multiple deployment models.
Another type of hybrid development is where an organization combines components on premises and in the cloud to deliver services and applications. Many organizations are taking this approach as they try cloud computing options.
Facts and Figures
There is a pervasive belief, especially among industry analysts, that the cloud is going to take over everything and on premises computing will wither away. Gartner estimates that the cloud computing market will reach $411 billion by 2020 (and that is just next year)!
Organizations’ confidence in the cloud, including the ability to protect and secure data and applications is rising. And this increased confidence should correlate with growing cloud adoption. According to a 2017 study, cloud usage increased from 24 percent of workloads in 2015 to 44 percent at the time of the study. Furthermore, they predicted that by 2019 65% of workloads would be in the cloud.
Clearly, there are benefits to cloud computing including economies of scale and the ability to scale up and down as needed. But there are deteriments, too, including less control of your data and latency issues. What happens to all of those applications built on the cloud if your Internet service is disrupted?
Contrary to the current popular belief, on-premises computing is not going to disappear any time soon… think of all those mainframes still humming away out there. And according to various sources (compiled by Syncsort):
- Mainframes handle 68 percent of the world’s production IT workloads
- 71 Percent of Fortune 500 Companies Use Mainframes
- Mainframes handle 87 percent of all credit card transactions
So mainframes alone, which are not going away, will still handle a large amount of enterprise computing workload.
That said, I believe that public cloud adoption will most likely be much lower than most predictions through 2022, and probably even beyond that. Even if demand is high, Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) cannot possibly build out their infrastructure fast enough to support all the existing data center capacity “out there.” Mark Thiele shared a concise, insightful article on LinkedIn that is worth reading summarizing these thoughts quite well.
The Bottom Line
At any rate, cloud computing is a viable method for building enterprise applications. It can be used to reduce the cost of managing and maintaining your IT systems. At the same time, the cloud can enhance flexibility, deliver quick scalability, and ensure that you are running with current, up-to-date system software.