Sizing-up Cloud Predictions of the Past—Plus 3 for the Future

Revisiting cloud predictions and making new ones

When the cloud first entered the general public’s consciousness, everyone in the industry was offering up their predictions. Some were on the wild side, while others were more grounded in reality. Of course, everyone expected a pretty rapid adoption, and no one was wrong about that; the global cloud computing market reached an astounding $260 billion in 2017 (so if anything, most predictions underestimated cloud market growth). Here are three more predictions that were floated around in the earlier days of cloud—and three that could become reality in 2018 and beyond.

1. The Cloud Will Kill the IT Department

As one of the biggest industry disruptors in years, the cloud had this question lingering on the minds of many back in the late aughts and early twenty-tens. The consensus seemed to be that yes, the cloud would be a job-taker. And while it’s likely that cloud adoption has eliminated some jobs, it’s also created new ones.

Perhaps one of the more reasoned responses to these fears in those earlier days of cloud adoption came from ComputerWeekly’s Karl Flinders in early 2014. “Clouding won’t be the death knell for modern IT professionals,” he wrote. “It won’t necessarily eliminate jobs but rather, it’s likely to combine multiple roles together while opening up new job opportunities for others.”

Today, that’s what we’re seeing; while the cloud has changed the structure of the IT department and the tasks they perform, it hasn’t killed the IT department altogether. There’s now less focus on the physical nuts-and-bolts of IT and more emphasis on managing the applications. “It’s a shift from blue-collar IT to white-collar IT,” says Ted Schadler of Forrester Research.

2. Big Box Retailers Will Begin Selling Cloud Services

In 2011, Best Buy doubled-down on it’s Geek Squad IT services and threw its hat into the cloud computing ring, announcing acquisition of mindSHIFT technologies, a $167 million deal. This prompted speculation that Big Box Retailers were the future of cloud computing; or at the very least, serious contenders. But in 2014, Best Buy sold mindSHIFT to tech company Ricoh, and this prediction has pretty much fizzled out.

Today, large technology companies continue to dominate the public cloud market, with Microsoft leading the way at $18.6 billion and Amazon and IBM taking the silver and bronze with $17.5 and $17 billion, respectively. In addition, a variety of other more specialized providers offering as-a-service models, private clouds, virtual private clouds, and hybrid clouds.

3. PCs Will Become Obsolete

Well, maybe not obsolete, but the rapid adoption of cloud computing, smartphones, and tablets certainly had people thinking they were going to be on their way out. And while the purchase of PCs has cooled off a bit (from a high in Q311 of 95 million unit to just over 72 million unit in Q317), the numbers are certainly nothing to sneeze at—and certainly much higher than experts would’ve guessed just seven years ago. And how about those tablets? My how the mighty have fallen. Once touted as the latest and greatest, more affordable PCs and larger-screened smartphones are giving them a run for their money, and tablets are on a downward spiral, dropping nearly 3.5 percent year over year.

What’s Next? Predictions for 2018 and Beyond

A story about predictions wouldn’t be complete without making some new forecasts; it’ll be interesting to revisit these in a few years to see just how on—or off—they are.

1. Rapid Adoption of Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS)

2017 saw its share of natural disasters, from the California wildfires to the magnitude 7.1 earthquake that rocked Mexico City. And in Florida alone, four hurricanes made landfall: Cindy, Emily, Phillipe, and of course Irma, a category 4 storm that caused $50 billion in damage to residences and businesses in the Sunshine State.

In the wake of this, and understanding the need for a disaster recovery plan, small and medium-sized businesses will be the main catalyst moving the DRaaS needle. In fact, Gartner predicts the DRaaS market will grow from just over $2 billion last year to nearly $4 billion in 2021.

2. Artificial Intelligence (AI) Becomes More Readily Available 

AI is no longer the stuff of science fiction; it’s a form of machine learning (ML) with spending expected to reach almost $60 billion in 2021, up from just over $10 billion last year. Today, AI and ML are everywhere—you’re probably using a form of it each day. Siri recognizes your voice and pulls up your playlist; retailers use predictive analytics to send you coupons when you enter their store; and self-driving cars are learning to drive through experience.

But AI requires immense data storage capacity and massive processing speeds that a traditional infrastructure doesn’t offer, making it accessible to only the largest of tech companies. With the cloud as an underlying platform, however, small and medium-sized companies will also be able to integrate a variety of AI-driven technologies across voice, vision, language, and machine learning in order to transform their organization and better compete with the big players in their space.

3. Adoption of Cloud Service by Non-Business Organizations

It’s already happening. While the security of cloud computing was once a major roadblock to cloud adoption from healthcare organizations and government entities, General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) showed organizations that there was a lot they needed to do in order to comply with regulations. With a short deadline for compliance, many looked to the cloud. Reputable cloud providers offer the compliance they need, along with IT support they need. Check out how the Florida Department of Agriculture utilized DRaaS to support one of their recent data initiatives by viewing this case study.

The past shows us how IT continues to evolve at lightning fast speeds. The organizations that learn to adapt and profit from these advancements will be those leading the future. To learn more about cloud computing services in Florida and beyond, contact a DSM professional today.

Florida Southern College Disaster Recovery Case Study

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