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30 Jan 2018

The past, present and future of cloud from an industry veteran

Ian Moyse

Given the extent to which the cloud is ingrained in every part of our lives, and every part of the technology we use, there is at times a surprising level of resistance.

However, compared to the early days, Moyse says, there is significantly less resistance at a ‘generic’ level.

Having been involved with cloud platforms for more than a decade, he has seen a change in mindset, from a place where IT professionals were previously utterly opposed to the idea on any level, to where it is accepted as being not just a way forward, but the way forward.

Moyse notes that security, data privacy and lack of control were, and still are, usually cited as the primary reasons for opposition to cloud adoption. He argues, however, that the true motivator was often far more emotive.

There was a fear that cloud would have a detrimental impact on the IT department’s value to an organisation, as concerns rose that if a server was not on-network, their ability to tinker, fix and own would be diminished.

As that has been proven not to be true over the last decade, and we have not witnessed the mass reduction of IT staff, resistance has decreased and attitudes have changed.

The next generation of IT professionals

It’s not just attitudes that have changed. The people who are making these decisions have changed too. Industry reports have shown that approximately one-third of the traditional IT workforce is due to retire in the next decade.

That means that those who have seen IT through the 60s, 70s and 80s, and witnessed the mainframe to LAN evolution, been familiar with PC terminal emulation, Novell Netware, 8-bit ethernet cards for PCs and 5.5 and 3.5? floppy drives are going to start leaving the workforce to be replaced increasingly by those who have grown up in a cloudy world.

We will see new IT staff asking questions like “what’s that box in the corner for?”, “why do we have our own physical server?”, and “why are we buying things instead of subscribing to them?”

There is, of course, still work to be done. Moyse now sees the fundamental concerns being security and data control, with this likely to be heightened by the upcoming GDPR. A Cloud Industry Forum (CIF) 2017 industry study reported that 62% of senior IT and business decision makers were concerned with data privacy, with 44% feeling the same about cloud security.

The upcoming EU regulations are, according to Moyse, starting to ruffle some feathers, both for end users and vendors. Many end users are desperate to ‘unpeel the onion’ and find out where their data is stored, how many copies there are, what retention policies are in place, and how do they best destruct and gain consent for data use.

The importance of GDPR for end users and vendors

For cloud vendors and those involved in the supply chain, becoming GDPR compliant is vitally important as customers will look to engage only with those that can tick the right box. Beyond that, it will be important for vendors to ensure their products enhance a customer’s ability to comply, rather than hindering it.

Other barriers when it comes to cloud adoption, according to the CIF survey, were complexity of migration (43%), internal skills/knowledge (32%) and dependency on internet access (31%).

Change in processes, a new ‘look and feel’, as well as the inherent pain of change itself, often causes a psychological block that can put up barriers. However, when considering the top reasons people choose to move to cloud, such as flexibility of delivery, operational cost savings and scalability, these outweigh and counteract any intangible people-led reasons on most occasions.

This back-and-forth between the natural pull of the status quo and the opposing pull of the benefits of cloud adoption has been going on for some time now, but Moyse believes that we are rapidly approaching the ‘tipping point.’

The future of cloud

This point has already been reached in some areas, such as the CRM market, where around 70% of new deployments are based in the cloud. Moyse argues that the same will soon happen in other application areas, such as in the approach to development (using PaaS and IaaS) and driven by outside technologies leveraging cloud platforms under the covers such as mobile, IoT and big data.

Looking ahead, there are three trends emerging that explain how and why cloud is entering the mainstream. Cloud will disrupt and replace existing applications with a more flexible approach, it will create innovative new business models, and create a new convergent underlying delivery platform for new front-facing technologies.

These trends will change the way people look at the cloud. Somebody might explain that they don’t use the cloud, or aren’t on the cloud. Delve a little deeper, and it will be clear that they use it in a plethora of ways and don’t even realise it – from that mobile app remembering where they parked, the IoT device controlling the heating and lighting through to the telephone call they just made which was routed over a Cloud PBX.

As the industry keeps gaining momentum, it’s vital to keep it healthy. Independent cloud bodies such as Cloud Industry Forum, Eurocloud, Cloud Security Alliance and Compare the Cloud bring value from their independent and agnostic viewpoints and deliver industry balance outside of biased vendor views.

Bodies like these ensure people have access to reliable, accurate and independent information, that means they can make the right decisions, that vendors keep building their offerings to the highest standards, and that the cloud keeps making great strides on its journey.


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