The following blog comes from an interview with Perficient’s Strategic Advisors Consulting Managing Principal, Michael Porter, and is part of a series on cloud trends with experts from within Perficient.
Cloud usage today has gone from a step pursued by bleeding edge innovators to a normal part of everyday business. Indeed, many companies now follow a “cloud first” policy. With its ability to power innovation, promote collaboration, and streamline processes, more and more enterprises are embracing the cloud’s opportunities. That wasn’t always the case, though.
In 2015, 47% of enterprises were moving to the cloud, according to IDG. As of November 2018, nearly 60% of enterprises were moving processes to the cloud, according to Forrester. The increase in just three years shows the rate of change in the embrace of cloud.
This growth has been stoked by a change in attitudes, the ways cloud is utilized, and the offerings of vendors.
A change in perspective
The questions that businesses have been asking about the cloud have changed. Previously, companies asked infrastructure questions about what should and shouldn’t be moved to the cloud, and what the best practices for development are. In most cases, they wanted to gain pure computing economies of scale by replicating their existing infrastructure wholesale.
Companies now see cloud as a base. They want to utilize as many of the available cloud services as possible and then build on top of it. By doing this, they’re able to make use of the tools that the cloud offers. Those tools have grown from simple storage and authentication to more advanced offerings like AI and predictive analytics.
Significantly, security teams finally accept cloud as a viable option. These teams were previously skeptical but now believe that cloud is largely more secure than on-premises data centers. They know that vendors have large teams dedicated to security – and that these vendors depend on security for their success. Vendors continue to both improve their already substantial security and to offer additional security services. Most of the large cloud vendors and many software-as-a-service (SaaS) vendors now let you manage your own keys separate from their infrastructure.
New ways to embrace cloud
As well as moving to the cloud, more businesses are utilizing the cloud in new and more encompassing ways. Many businesses see platform-as-a-service (PaaS) solutions as the way forward because they meet both their current and future needs. Businesses utilizing PaaS models can essentially build their own future by focusing on development and deployment with speed and agility. These early adopters are looking to get ahead of the game, believing most businesses will be on PaaS models in the future.
The embrace of development and deployment has also seen an increase in DevOps on the cloud. Here, development and operations teams work together, simplifying processes and further speeding up deployment. In most cases, a cloud development project now goes hand in hand with at least some DevOps efforts.
Along with a change in processes has come developments to support them. Companies’ cloud initiatives now realize additional benefits in the almost out-of-the-box support for high availability (HA) and disaster recovery (DR). Cloud providers use of multiple data centers and easy failover makes it easy to almost natively support failover within a data center and to other data centers. For those who remember the days of having to duplicate entire server farms just to get DR, this represents a welcome, and in some cases unlooked for, benefit.
The push for integration most shows in the rise of cloud-based integration tools. These tools connected a wide range of cloud-based SaaS and PaaS platforms, allowing businesses to do more with their cloud setups. There’s a reason why Salesforce bought Mulesoft and why tools like Zapier seem to have popped out of nowhere. These tools are now supported by a large number of SaaS services looking for better integration options.
How vendors are reacting
Cloud vendors of all sizes are coming out with more and more offerings. These offerings have become more granular in some cases, while others encompass a wide range of services.
With the increased focus on security, some vendors are now offering key management solutions to add to security strength. These solutions prevent people from accessing a business’s data when they’re accessing data that lives in the same virtual space. Key management allows you use a cloud service but rest well knowing that data is encrypted and that you, not the cloud provider, hold the keys to decrypt it. No unwanted eyes can view your data through a vendor’s data breach.
Vendors aren’t just adding services to their own offerings. The strength of Microsoft Azure and Amazon has seen vendors offer microservices and API management for these platforms too. These offerings, which work specifically on these platforms, give businesses that already have Azure or Amazon infrastructures new options. Many companies want to monetize their data. Doing so requires that you have absolute controls of how and when third parties access that data. These types of services make it possible to provide data as a service options for your customers in a variety of channels. Some prefer access via a simple site. Many others want to access an API directly to gain access that data.
That these offerings now exist reflects the stage that cloud is at. It is now a mature service and one that businesses know they need to embrace because failure to do so impedes their ability to react quickly and efficiently to ever-changing market forces.
Gartner predicts that 80% of enterprises will eventually migrate entirely away from on-premises data centers. The data indicates that this change is here to stay, and business are now embracing these opportunities.