Cloud spending increases as more services are migrated

A report from Cowen & Company has found that even with the cloud market maturing over time, there are an ever increasing number of businesses which are keen to shift a greater portion of their IT services over to the cloud, according to Forbes.

Around half of the enterprises questioned in the survey said that they are intending to embrace IaaS (infrastructure as a service) in some form over the coming 12 months, while 77 per cent of respondents said that they are already using a significant number of cloud solutions at this point in time.

A similar proportion said that they are looking at ways to move crucial IT solutions to the cloud, so leading to an ongoing increase in investment and adoption, even compared with the results of the same study conducted in 2014.

Another thing analysts noted from the most recent survey is that there is growing trust in third party providers, meaning that businesses are more confident in allowing services to be hosted remotely, rather than insisting on managing mission-critical infrastructural elements in-house.

Forty per cent of those questioned said that they are looking to shift up to half of their entire IT workloads to public cloud platforms between now and 2020, with SaaS (software as a service) accounting for almost a third of all apps used.

Businesses are also keen to invest in the development of bespoke cloud apps that will help them take advantage of existing software ecosystems or harness industry-specific benefits, that are only available as a result of migration.

2015 has seen the cloud’s surge to eclipse other forms of IT continue, although it does seem that there will still be some solutions which businesses will prefer to host internally, for the foreseeable future.

New Cloud Data Centres Confirmed for Australia

Australian businesses will be able to take advantage of two new data centres for a variety of cloud-based services after Microsoft recently announced the development of these facilities earlier this month.
One of them is being built in New South Wales while the other is based in Victoria, with the separate nature of the two facilities being touted as a major advantage. Domestic cloud customers will be able to store data across both sites so that if one is compromised, there will still be a full backup available at a remote location. This means that natural disasters will be less likely to render both centres inoperable and should allow Australian companies to access improved business continuity tools.

This is the type of cloud setup available in most countries and disaster recovery is just one of the benefits that cloud customers can enjoy if they migrate from a reliance on in-house systems. For many businesses the act of storing and backing up data locally is effectively the same as putting all of your eggs in one basket. Should something go wrong, there is no backup available at a remote location and no quick way to get the business back up to speed.

Conversely, with cloud computing it is much easier to recover quickly and protect mission-critical apps and data without facing significant upfront costs for hardware.

Some businesses are large enough to operate their own remote data centres, but for the majority of firms it will be easier to rent storage space and processing capacity from a third party cloud provider.
Whether your company is based in the Australian outback or the urban sprawl of London, it makes sense to consider cloud adoption when addressing the issue of business continuity and disaster recovery.

Cloud bandwidth demands met through 100Gbps connectivity

The demand for bandwidth has steadily increased, thanks to the rise in the use of cloud computing services, although the UK is still quite a way down international league tables when it comes to average connection speeds.

The latest figures from Ofcom show that the typical broadband connection is now just over 11Mbps, but a new service being offered to cloud computing providers is going to be a little bit more generous with the bandwidth, according to V3.co.uk.

The 100Gbps (gigabits per second) solution being offered by Virgin Media Business (VMB), is rolling out to various data centres that provide cloud services.

With businesses becoming ravenous for data access, this type of digital pipeline will make it easier for cloud providers to actually live up to expectations and deal with ever-increasing demands.

This superfast connectivity will be able to link data centres to one another, so that the flow of information is not stifled and some potential customers for this type of solution are expecting to push speeds even further.

This is obviously a very specialised type of connectivity, designed to appeal to cloud firms that run their own data centres. However, it also indicates the direction which is being taken by the wider broadband market in the UK, as it adapts to a shape dictated by the cloud.

Businesses and domestic users are now used to being able to access remotely hosted information and software services whenever it is required. As data volumes increase along with the number of simultaneous users, there are concerns that the current infrastructure will not be comprehensive enough to keep up with demand.

Hopefully, the major investments being made in bringing fibre optic connectivity to most areas of the UK will help alleviate the pressure which is being put on bandwidth.

Cloud spending to increase by a quarter

The latest figures from IDC suggest that businesses will spend $21 billion (£13.5 billion) on public cloud solutions over the course of 2015, which represents a year on year increase of 25 per cent, according to V3.co.uk.

The expansion of private cloud spending will be a little more muted at 16 per cent this year, but still shows that across the private sector, more organisations than ever are shifting their IT infrastructures towards the cloud.

Across the entire cloud sector, the increase in spending will be 28 per cent, making the market work $32 billion (£20.7 billion). And there are regional differences anticipated in the growth rate, with Western Europe’s cloud market leading the way, as analysts estimate that spending will rise by almost a third.

In the US, where the cloud market is a little more mature, there will still be a marked 22 per cent increase in spending, while internationally, it is estimated that about 33 per cent of the entire enterprise IT market will be made up of cloud services.

The rapid growth of the cloud is worthy of note, but it is also important to recognise that it still accounts for a minority share of the whole IT market. As such, it has yet to attain the ubiquity and level of influence that many advocates believe it to possess already.

By 2019, it is predicted that around 45 per cent of the IT market will be caught up with cloud spending, meaning that the 50 per cent mark may be reached within the next half decade.

Report spokesperson, Kuba Stolarski, said that there is no sign of a slowdown in the growth of cloud spending. And with the next generation of public cloud services in development, businesses will have even more reason to shift the focus away from on-site infrastructures.

Cloud computing price war intensifies

Although the cloud market is typically thought of as existing in a state of flux, with no defined dominant force, it seems that a small cabal of bigger firms are stepping up the pressure on small competitors, with a price war that might reshape the industry entirely.

In a recent Gartner report, cloud analyst, Lydia Leong, argued that only a handful of larger vendors have the spending power to invest in the cloud, cut prices and secure growth going forwards.

The problem this poses to businesses that are looking to adopt cloud solutions is that some vendors may be altering their business models and service offers in the future. This could complicate things if firms sign up to specific solutions today, only to see the provider change tact and alter its focus as a result of market pressures.

In particular, IaaS (infrastructure as a service) is being identified as an area targeted by the largest firms, including Amazon, Google and Microsoft, with significant price cuts being introduced by these providers on a regular basis.

Vendors are also altering pricing structures to allow affordable packages to be made available, by harnessing the power of cloud instances that are otherwise idle to handle workloads. This does mean that services may become unavailable to certain customers with only a brief warning, but for businesses looking for the cheapest possible route to cloud adoption, this may be an acceptable compromise.

Whether the price war will have a negative impact on the market as a whole is up for debate, since while cloud customers will be getting a better deal, it is also likely that smaller vendors will be forced out by the sheer spending power of the biggest players, potentially leading to a lack of diversity across the industry.

Big data proposed as solution to cloud security threats

Chinese firm, Huawei, this month unveiled its plans to leverage big data in order to boost security in cloud computing environments and beyond. This encompasses not only data centres but also the remote devices which rely on them to provide a range of software and storage services.

APT (advanced persistent threat) attacks that might otherwise compromise an entire cloud solution are targeted by the firm’s solution, with end to end protection ensuring that this type of operating environment is much safer for businesses and consumers alike.

This solution is being developed in response to the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT), which spokesperson, Liu Lizhu, said not only creates many opportunities but brings with it a range of previously unforeseen security risks that have to be addressed.

Without encryption in place, almost three quarters of IoT devices remain vulnerable to exploitation. And since these devices intrinsically rely on the cloud to bolster their capabilities, a big data solution to the threats is seen as being the most efficient and powerful one available.

Orchestrated DDoS attacks, powered by malicious botnets that are often available to cybercriminals to hire for whatever actions they have planned, can also be counteracted through the power of big data, according to Huawei researchers. And since more businesses are migrating mission-critical apps and data to the public cloud, being able to ensure that everything remains accessible, even when an assault is being levelled against a particular data centre, is of paramount importance.

Most importantly, it is possible for attacks to be detected and deflected in real time. And there is little doubt that improved cloud security like this will act as a deterrent to individuals or groups, who would otherwise seek to breach systems and take advantage of any weaknesses.

Key cloud facts unpacked

A new infographic from Mashable has assessed the state of the cloud market as it exists in 2015, while also considering the future trajectory of the industry as it grows internationally.

One of the key findings reported is that half of all IT services could be based in the cloud within the next five years, with almost two thirds of businesses already having migrated at least one solution to the cloud.

Another important analytical point to consider is that the hybrid approach to the cloud is increasingly common and, in fact, preferred by many businesses as opposed to adopting either public or private platforms on a mutually exclusive basis.

Hybrid cloud computing involves combining internal resources with third party products which are hosted remotely in order to get the best of both worlds when it comes to security, privacy, functionality and cost effectiveness.

The report points out that the public cloud remains the most appealing platform for organisations which are facing the prospect of having to deal with ever mounting piles of data and would be well served by the scalability and on demand approach to payment available via this type of IT service.

Meanwhile the private cloud is preferred for those operating in industries where privacy is a major concern and the need to keep sensitive information at domestic data centres rather than outsourcing it for overseas storage will be a necessity.

As a result of this dichotomy, it is no surprise that hybrid cloud strategies are being rolled out by many organisations, not only to combine the aforementioned benefits but also to make sure that workloads can be better balanced.

With ongoing cloud growth anticipated in 2015 and revenues set to rise by a fifth, the market is still shifting as businesses alter their priorities.

Security threat posed by cloud exploit

Security is an issue which dogs the cloud industry and causes sceptics to argue that mission-critical solutions should not be hosted on public platforms. And in most instances, the threats are over exaggerated or entirely fabricated.

However, this month a new vulnerability in the way virtual machines operate has been uncovered and there are concerns that this weakness could be exploited, causing major problems for providers and users alike.

The so called Venom vulnerability contravenes the idea that virtual machines hosted in the cloud are distinct from one another and so do not allow users to leap from one virtualised operating environment to another.

So while the promise of keeping ecosystems separate in the cloud is regularly made by vendors, Venom reveals that it is possible to leapfrog from one virtual machine to another. And this might mean that hackers could compromise the systems of more than one cloud customer, according to researchers at CrowdStrike.

A number of affected cloud platforms have been identified and the exploit is founded on a bug that is triggered by a buffer overflow in a virtual machine’s floppy disk controller, according to Ars Technia.

Although some have argued that Venom may ultimately have ramifications that are as far-reaching as the Heartbleed bug, that reared its head back in 2014, others are certain that the extent of the impact of this new fault will not be nearly as significant.

The good news in this instance, as well as in any scenario involving security vulnerabilities unearthed in the cloud industry, is that vendors have a competitive incentive to find solutions and patch any issues out of existence.

This innate need to make the cloud as safe as possible, so that customer confidence is restored, is what makes the market so responsive to threats.

DRaaS is recognised as new cloud trend

The cloud market is littered with acronyms used to describe key solutions available to businesses in a succinct way. Although, with more IT services migrating to the cloud all the time, it can still be a confusing area to navigate for newcomers.

SaaS (software as a service) represents the biggest chunk of cloud spending at the moment, with IaaS (infrastructure as a service) and PaaS (platform as a service) also playing an important part in generating revenues for vendors.

The latest cloud solution to be recognised by analyst firm, Gartner, as an emerging global trend within this market is DRaaS, or disaster recovery as a service. And as the name suggests, this is made up of platforms which are intended to act as a failsafe in the event of on-site or cloud-based IT services being taken out of action for whatever reason.

Interestingly, analysts see DRaaS as distinct from the use of IaaS to facilitate recovery, while also separating it from BaaS (backup as a service) as a means of preserving data. In addition, the research found that companies with 100 employees or fewer are more likely to have embraced DRaaS when compared with their larger counterparts. Perhaps this is as a result of smaller companies being in a better position to adopt, since their IT infrastructures will be less complex and thus easier to recover.

Gartner identifies a group of 14 key vendors in the DRaaS market, as well as pointing out that there are some issues impacting growth in this market. These include the cost and time span involved in opening adequate data centre facilities to make true cloud continuity a viable option for larger providers and their clients.

Keeping on top of emerging cloud trends is important, particularly as, in this instance, the market segment in question is aimed at helping businesses survive disasters that might otherwise put them out of action permanently.

Survey reveals lack of public understanding of cloud computing

The results of a survey conducted by Wakefield Research have found that in spite of the growing public profile of cloud computing, many people are still confused about how the technology operates and what it can accomplish, according to The Inquirer.

Just over a thousand respondents were questioned in the study, with almost a third claiming to believe that the cloud is somehow related to meteorology. Meanwhile, 51 per cent said that they were convinced the current weather conditions can have an impact on how cloud services operate, with storms causing disruption.

Further to the confusion over the terms used to describe this technology, the report also found that many people who use the cloud do so without being aware of it.

More than half said that using the cloud was not something they do as part of their work or personal life, although on further examination, it was revealed that 95 per cent of this group were in fact customers of some kind of cloud service.

Even with people still having trouble with defining the cloud or even working out when they are using it, respondents did show that they are well aware of the potential that this type of technology has to change the way businesses operate.

Fifty six per cent said that over the coming years the cloud will reshape the workplace, while over two thirds said that the economic benefits of the cloud were significant. So in spite of certain misconceptions about the cloud existing at the moment, most people are buying into the idea that it is making a mark on businesses and society as a whole.

As with any new technology, many people admitted to claiming that they understood it, without actually having a decent grasp of the systems involved.