The International Data Corporation (IDC) released figures on Tuesday detailing a monumental forecast for cloud computing’s value through the end of 2015, and its growth through the next four or five years.
While cloud computing’s relevance and overall adoption has grown significantly over the last 10 years, the IDC says that it is nowhere near done penetrating the enterprise and enjoying broader use. The group says that public cloud computing will reach nearly $70 billion in 2015 on a global scale, and that the number of new cloud-based solutions will triple in the next four to five years.
Much of cloud’s importance lies in how it is changing the landscape of the information technology world, which necessarily integrates with all end-user technologies such as mobile. The IDC says that cloud is impacting all areas of IT “supply, composition, and consumption” and is now providing the basis for many other burgeoning services and technologies like big data, mobile, and social applications.
Part of this shift for businesses is a product of the sheer number of cloud solutions now available for the enterprise. The number and diversity of services available in the cloud market means that businesses are shifting steadily toward cloud-based operations, looking at cloud-based strategies, and peering ahead towards the digital transformation of their companies using what cloud has to offer.
The firm quotes Eileen Smith, program manager for IDC Global Technology and Research Group:
The technological innovations and enabling capabilities unleashed by cloud have fostered new opportunities across the industries. As a result, it is necessary for both technology vendors and buyers to recognize the industry drivers and barriers of cloud deployment, to understand the business transformation brought by cloud, and to act upon the changes that will shape business and technology strategy in the coming years.
In 2012, research firm Gartner reported that cloud computing and its subsets were at a peak on its hype cycle. (Gartner’s hype cycle is one that measures how inflated terms in technology have become versus their actual use.) But the cycle shows that terms involving cloud such as “hybrid cloud computing” and “platform as a service” were at the peak of “inflated expectations” as Gartner puts it, set on a trajectory to then plummet to the “trough of disillusionment” followed by the “slope of enlightenment” and finally the “plateau of productivity”. So, while many terms over the course of a few years experience these fluctuations in hype, they usually end in that plateau of actual, productive use. (Back in August 2014, the internet of things was at its most-hyped peak, set to reach the plateau of productivity within 5-10 years. Big data had already been on the downward slope towards disillusionment with a similar time frame for productive adoption and use.) It appears as though cloud is now well on its way to this level of productivity, and — if the IDC is right — will further generate massive value over the next five years.
The healthcare and medical industries are also drivers in the movement forward for cloud computing. Research and Markets reported recently that the global healthcare cloud computing market is expected to reach $9.48 billion in 2020 — up from $3.73 billion in 2015. Health services are slower to onboard new technologies because of security issues — indeed, security and privacy are still barriers to broader cloud adoption — but healthcare industries worldwide seem to be gradually adopting cloud-based tech.
Some questions still lie in the balance between the adoption of cloud services and the general understanding of the cloud. Late last year, CompTIA reported that there has been mass adoption of cloud-based technologies despite pervasive confusion over what the cloud really does, based on a survey of business decision makers that showed incomprehension surrounding the cloud computing services their companies currently use. Perhaps, as time goes by, and these numbers from the IDC flesh out, a greater understanding of the specifics of cloud’s benefits and usage will permeate the enterprise landscape.