Where the Cloud Is & Where It’s Heading

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When we think about what exactly “the cloud” is, often times people think of it as a space designed strictly for backups of your data. This may have been the initial advertising pitch of cloud service providers; however, in today’s world it has become the norm for businesses to not only use the cloud for storage but also for active workloads, running applications, and project development. This shift continues to accelerate as cloud service providers offer ever more affordable, flexible, and reliable service plans that can free up funds and avoid potential pitfall spending for companies. With this massive and rapid growth, IT teams have never been more challenged to adapt and grow within their roles. Regardless of their formal education, cloud architecture and technologies continue to develop each day. From a data management, accessibility, and cybersecurity standpoint this means that your IT department needs to continuously be trained and research best practices as your company adapts with these cloud platform changes. For example, businesses need to determine which cloud server model makes the most sense (both cost wise and usage wise) for their companies. This might mean using public cloud, private cloud, multi-cloud, or a hybrid cloud model. In addition to this, with more applications running in cloud computing environments, security needs to be customized to ensure these newly found applications aren’t vulnerable to data breaches – as often times applications offer less out of the box security than some storage methods.

When thinking about cloud infrastructure itself, this is a concept that businesses need to have a clear understanding of before building out their plans. In general terms, cloud infrastructure refers to the hardware and software components that are needing to support the requirements for a given cloud computing model. These are things such as servers, storage capacity, network capabilities, and additional virtualization software. These make up the “framework” for the abstraction layer, which encompasses the software programs that enable logical presentation of data and findings through the application interfaces used to analyze your businesses data. Depending on your business’s needs these aspects of the overall cloud infrastructure may vary. For example, you may need more flexibility in your storage capacity since your sales data varies greatly by season and you don’t want to avoid excessively high costs year-round. Other things may remain constant, such as dedicated virtualization and applications focused on providing specific analytics and predictions.

So, now that we know where the cloud currently stands this begs the question of what can we expect next? The cloud-based environment we see today has grown rapidly as the needs of business in the era of big data have continued to grow exponentially. With the advancement in fields like computing, data science and predictive analytics, the need for cloud adaptation and adoption to a cloud first mentality will continue as well. IT teams will need to constantly be on the look-out for ways to enhance their company’s usage of the cloud with a growing number of applications that are built solely for usage in the cloud platform. The days of adapting legacy style software for cloud usage will likely be coming to an end. Thus, companies will need to consider which legacy software will need to be replaced and ensure their companies train employees across the board, bottom up, so that these transitions can be as smooth as possible.

While cloud-based environments and cloud applications have experienced incredibly rapid growth within the last decade, we are near to realizing the full peak or potential of their capabilities. There is no doubt that within the next five to ten years there will be additional massive innovations that change the ways businesses perceive and utilize cloud-based environments, applications, data storage, and system backups. Thus, regardless of where your company is at in terms of a fresh startup or a long standing business, you’ll need to carefully evaluate the ways in which you utilize the cloud as it is – to determine where optimizations, adoptions, and adaptations can happen so that you’ll always be prepared for what’s to come.

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