It’s 2019, and the Cloud is everywhere—from the apps we use every day to the infrastructure of global tech giants.
According to researchers at Gartner,
revenue generated from public cloud services is projected to grow 17.5 percent
in 2019. This amounts to a total of $214.3 billion, up from $182.4 billion in
More than a third of organizations surveyed by Gartner saw cloud investments as a top three investment priority. With this kind of growth, tech organizations are racing to get onboard with cloud-only software and platforms. Here are some of the trends to look out for this year:
Cloud, Multi-Cloud and Mergers
IBM announced its purchase of Red Hat last October, calling it the “most significant tech acquisition of 2018.” This combined Red Hat’s extensive network of open-source clouds with IBM’s Hybrid Cloud team.
Mergers like these are likely to become a trend this year, as companies see the vast benefit of using multiple clouds across all sectors of their organization. Furthermore, this system will dominate in the future, as businesses find public clouds inadequate to meet every one of their requirements.
As a more flexible and functional solution,
many organizations will shift to a network of multiple private, public and
hybrid clouds in the coming years.
Serverless computing is a young market in technology, but it will continue growing in 2019. Serverless computing isn’t actually “serverless.” Instead, it is a cloud-computing model in which the cloud provider itself runs the server on a dynamic, as-used basis (FaaS).
Rather than buying server space, developers
can simply use a back-end cloud service to code, only paying for the server
space they actually use.
As this relatively new technology develops,
we can expect to see more companies providing and expanding their “serverless”
Although cloud technologies are growing exponentially, artificial intelligence (AI) could prove an even greater economic driving force. This is because according to Accenture, the impact of AI could double economic growth rates by 2035 in developed countries.
Amazon, Twilio and Nvidia, to name a few, are thus, incorporating AI with cloud computing, next-gen GPUs and the Internet of Things (IoT). This has led to the developing of applications with “smart assistants,” and voice-to-text technologies.
Such a combination of AI and the cloud provides an extremely powerful and unconstrained computing network.
Digital transformation is already underway, with Gartner also projecting that 83 percent of all workloads will shift to the cloud by 2020. However, this movement presents issues of cybersecurity.
Many businesses have not properly secured their cloud-stored data. For example, marketing and data aggregation firm Exactis left around 340 million records exposed on its cloud servers. This was uncovered in a data breach last year.
The implementation of the General Data Practice Regulations (GDPR) makes this even trickier. The GDPR affects cloud security, and IT companies will likely struggle to comply with these new laws while protecting sensitive information.
Cloud computing services are progressing exponentially, as are their new developments. As a result, 2019 will surely be filled with businesses pouring investment into enterprise solutions. This while expanding, securing and implementing cloud technologies to their fullest extent.
Bridget is a freelance writer and editor, and the founder of Lost Bridge Blog, where she writes about traveling as a Millennial woman on a budget. When not writing, you can find her traveling, drinking inhuman amounts of caffeine and scrolling through the latest tech & political news.
The term “storage wars” has taken on a new meaning. It has shifted literally from the ability to keep one’s belongings in physical containers to having one’s data stored and managed in the digital realm.
A question often asked is whether the (Internet) cloud is infinite. The answer is both a yes and no.
The top four cloud tech companies are endlessly engaged in a silent market share war. It is a tough choice as they all offer millions of gigabytes in storage. It is therefore fair to interrogate to what extent is there an abundance of storage after which storage space will run out.
Other factors to consider is the actual server location, ability to sync any folders and perform selective Synchronization.
There are also key offerings such as offering the ability to edit files on mobile devices. For businesses, the ability to remotely wipe mobile devices, perform file-versioning, and other useful features for data management.
As a business, if the above-mentioned features are not in your cloud solution, you better look into switching away.
While you can technically run your own cloud, it would require a full-on IT team. That or a very good support system to assist in its maintenance and administration.
It is for this very reason that a SaaS(and Hybrid)-approach to storage is preferred by many medium to large enterprises.
Here are 4 of the most popular CSPs
A standard (personal)GoogleDrive starts from 15 GB in size and comes when you open a Google email account. This is a standard with most Android-powered mobile phones which require a Gmail account to register the phone. It is a convenient way to store and access your pics, videos, and files across multiple devices or back them up in case of a hard drive crash.
If you do not mind the inconvenience of having several logins, you could get away with multiple drives giving you 15 GBs each.
There is, however, a drawback as there is no such a thing as a free lunch – the level of security and compliance features naturally are little to almost none. Additional storage can also be purchased with different upgrade plans, which may come with more add=ons such as extra file encryption.
When it comes to their business offering, their Team Drive is available with the G-Suite bundle. One can upload 750 GB of data per day and up to a total 5 TB in size. Team Drive can contain a maximum of 100,000 files and folders, however, this limit can be increased upon request.
The basic package including the more advanced security costs $5 per user per month and gives you 30 GB for storage and collaboration.
The ease of accessing and using the drives via strategic partnerships such as the one with Android provides them with growing market share. As it is cloud-based and not linked to physical devices, you can access your GoogleDrive using a Mac computer as well.
There are growing talks of incorporating Artificial Intelligence <AI> into the data management systems and currently building a full AI Center in Accra, Ghana. This will help bigger companies manage, access and organize their stored information faster and with more purpose.
This comes with revised pricing and storage options: 15 GB: remains Free; 100 GB costs $1.99/month; 200 GB $2.99/month and 2 TB $9.99/month.
Google is a latecomer when it comes to offering business solutions and still battles with the stigma of being a free service and thus associated with inferior quality.
The integration with Office applications is still something they struggle to get right. Not many are fans of their free word processing software included in Googlesheets.
Most non-Microsoft platforms will have this compatibility problem.
They also run into a few data syncing problems ever so often, especially with the free storage. They offer full 24/7 customer and technical support with their products. More aggressive advertising and pricing of their business offerings now serves to hopefully alleviate this issue for them.
How Google bounces back from a hefty EUR 4,34 billion fine for the mentioned collusion with Android will determine if they survive the storage war. This especially if they will be now forced to allow other CSPs to offer services on mobile devices.
They are actually seen as a formal threat and direct (more superior) competitor to Microsoft’s cloud (equivalent) offering – which we touch on next.
Most of this comes from a robust and apparently the world’s largest global cloud infrastructure.
Based on this, its cloud storage, dubbed Amazon S3, works on a “pay as you use” basis while its free tier starts you off on 5GB of storage. Thereafter you pay in increments based on the storage class you fall under.
So the first 50 TB will cost $0.023 per GB per month and then the next 450 TB will cost $0.022 per GB per month and so on.
This is practical for businesses that do not have a limit to storage space but scale up and down very quickly based on their operations.
Amazon’s storage platform gives users and businesses alike the ability to geographically store and move data with the highest levels of encryption. In addition, one can use data analytics on your data without moving the data into a separate analytics system.
Amazon Athena additionally provides anyone who knows SQL on-demand query access to vast amounts of unstructured data. As with Google, AI incorporation along with Alexa would facilitate this even further.
Other notable benefits offered include open workflows, Hybrid-cloud storage capability, powerful APIs and easy and reliable access to many Third-Party vendors & Partners.
Naturally, you get access to its AWS Marketplaces. It also has a strong compliance adherence including HIPAA/HITECH, EU Data Protection Directive, and FISMA.
Storage users need to have a .Net Framework and SQL installed to use the storage. For those looking for quick storing solutions without building heavy infrastructure, they can adopt the cloud completely.
With the launch of its online services (Microsoft 365,), it has had to repackage a portion of its Azure platform to cater for small to mid-sized businesses.
These include functional/specific bundles such as OneDrive (personal), OneDrive for Business and Sharepoint (a powerful storage and content management tool).
The online version of the Sharepoint starts at $5.00 per user per monthfor a rather limited 1 TB per organization. Thereafter, users can purchase more in 1 GB increments of 12 to 16 (US) centsdepending on the total (storage space) size ordered.
Lastly, they offer storage to help perform computations and process events (Functions).
These bundles are all provided free for the first 12 months and then range from $0.002 per GB to about US 0.20c per million executions.
They have a good Partner system to help distinguish and provide support for the best storage package based on one’s immediate needs.
To bolster their growing Marketplace, they recently also purchased the business that deals with OpenSource (GitHub). This enables more freedom for developers to manipulate software on its platform.
For a comparison of the storage types via Azure and pricing for each, click here.
People have found its pricing a little to steep on the storage side and so keeping market share will be tough. Many new smaller CSPs offering cheaper per GB rates.
They can only counter this by offering more products that require their storage (compatibility-wise).
Some other cumbersome restrictions like users being only able to upload 20 000 files at once or the actual file-size limit might not bode too well with heavy cloud data users.
They also don’t have as many APIs as Google or Amazon does, but these are growing by the day.
Probably the first of the CSP batch that provided cloud computing. It therefore has had the experience of honing ways of storing and retrieving data for larger businesses. International Business Machines (or IBM) can be considered as the grandfather of data storage.
As with the other CSPs, there is a free offering called the “Lite plan” consisting of a single IBM Cloud service instance with storage up to 25 GB/month.
Paid storage is staggered, per consumption and based on complex costing tiers based on location, storage class, and resiliency choice.
Storage charges start from $0.09 for up to 50 GB down to $0.014 for 500+ TB on what they call the Cross Region Flex plan.
Their security is their biggest pride and strength and makes them a firm favourite for large companies and potentially governmental institutions.
The fact that they do not actively advertise as much as Google or Microsoft is telling. They clearly need to provide high secrecy and protection for their existing clients.
One such feature unique to the way data is stored on their cloud servers is using Information Dispersal Algorithms (IDAs). This helps to separate data in unrecognizable “slices” that are distributed across datacenters.
So basically the complete copy of the data resides in any single storage node, and only a subset of nodes are available in order to fully retrieve the data on the network. This is similar to how peer-to-peer sharing or data encryption works.
IBM relies too much on its reputation as a forerunner for tech and cloud-based computing. It has earned that title for several decades before the likes of Google and Amazon barged in.
They might lose out on market share once the newer CSPs start to offer more robust products and compliance services like theirs.
Their high security and complex system come at a premium so designed for or rather restricted to wealthy companies essentially. The hosting option (main server locations) looks limited and restricted to geographical areas primarily within the US and EU.
Be wary of clandestine terminology such as ‘unlimited archiving/storage’ even with a paid subscription. This usually refers to storing data at rest and not the ability to constantly and unlimitedly sync files.
Another salient factor to compare would be the number of files that you can upload or sync at the same time.
This will be relevant for larger companies that need to upload large files and by large, we mean 10 GB files (2 and a half HD DVDs’ worth of content) and upwards.
Making a choice
At the end of the day, your decision to take on a faction in the storage war should be based on your priorities. You simply match it to what each of the companies is offering taking your budget into consideration of course.
You may need to consider running a combination of two or more of them.
Some larger companies offer storage as a “must have” with hosted email or along with something as basic as purchasing a new smartphone.
You will, however, have to ask yourself a few more pressing questions around functionality, data security and compliance before taking it up.
Or you can simply not accept the offer or disable it in cases where it is presented as a freebie!
Are you running your business like you did in the eighties, nineties? If so, you are probably working like a donkey and probably for the same kind of income – if you are even making any!
Business automation is something that has developed albeit quite slowly, over decades and accelerated significantly via the “www “. And now even more so the with the Internet of Things (IoT).
Ways of doing business
Let’s begin looking communication – a key pillar in running any successful venture. Getting in touch with clients can now occur in numerous ways.
We have come a long way from shouting “extra, extra read all about it” on street corners, to invading places of comfort and abode with door-to-door sales visits.
We can now get in touch physically (though rarely unless required such as in a shop setting), via phone, Skype, Emails, online chatting, video-conferencing, and social media.
And though it may sound like overkill, using these tools can actually help save time and target your product offerings and marketing campaigns.
This makes them efficient and worth every penny/cent spent on them.
Hosting email nowadays does not require the expertise of IT professionals.
Likewise, IT pros are now discovering they have more time to perform administrative work (much needed productivity reports). This rather than the mundane tasks of backing up servers, or grudgingly coming out of their dark holes to walk from PC to PC installing software.
Such ‘exercises’ can consume hours during the day and, probably gets on the nerves of people trying to get work done.
As an IT pro, you can now administer and carry out IT-related tasks from the comfort of your office. You can even do it remotely (at home or while attending a conference) via your PC, laptop and even on your smartphone!
Emails can now be hosted with a few clicks and run smoothly on desktops, mobile phone, and tablets with a simple syncing feature. This is made possible by a newer mail protocol known as Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP).
You can now synchronize your emails, calendars, and events as well as your contacts on all your devices, for instance, using Microsoft Exchange Online services.
This are strenuous tasks that an IT professional would have had to manually create using special scripted rules via PowerShell, patches, domain routers to a normal physical server to enable such functionality.
The cloud has made this all possible and while we will not get into the intricacies and workings of the cloud, we have in our working experience, seen a massive uptake of it.
Companies of all sizes, countries, and industries (including healthcare, education, financial and governmental institutions) are moving to the cloud.
This uptake of cloud services is happening on a regular basis as old servers are being made redundant and getting subjected to creative destruction in the IT industry.
Software for hire
Software as a Service (SaaS), which is what it is called, is basically the hiring of software rather than owning it and leaving the (usually costly) maintenance to the software provider.
The tech giants will then take care of the back-end operations such as backups, updates, and upgrades, maintenance, security and compliance for an annual or monthly fee.
You can liken this to hire-purchase or the car leasing services that the automobile industry offers its clients.
The car servicing and maintenance is performed timeously by the manufacturer. You just drive it and pay for your own fuel on top of the monthly leasing fees. Such a service can even be monetized using Cryptos such as IOTA.
Great collaboration tools
Another daunting yet integral task in running a business is the act of hosting meetings. Business meetings are often rescheduled as easily as procrastinating a spring cleaning exercise in the middle of summer whilst on holiday. This is mainly because of the availability of participants or lack of the material required to make a presentation to participants.
Tools that foster online meetings such as Skype for Business or G-Suite’s Hangouts for example, allow you to schedule meetings from a calendar entry. That is, set up in your email application e.g. Outlook.
This will send you and your meeting participants a reminder. Then, with a click of a button you can join, host or participate in a full-on HD video or audio conference type call.
This can be done from wherever you are on the globe as long as you have a good enough broadband connection.
The kicker with this tool is the ability to present your full (hopefully clean and avoid any embarrassing items) desktop, to all participants.
So, you can present an Excel spreadsheet of financial data, discuss the design of a brochure or flyer for marketing, or run a PowerPoint presentation. The apps come even complete with an infrared pointer!
Good broadband is key
Again, these services obviously require great Internet connectivity. This might also be the only stumbling block deterring many smaller companies and some big data-sensitive firms from taking on the cloud.
But as Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and now local governments are now actively getting involved in making broadband (Wi-Fi and fibre cable networks) a necessity for all.
The problem of adequate broadband connectivity will, therefore, not be an issue in the near future.
So, you see, just from this highly compressed explanation and examples of two tasks carried out by businesses. There are endless possibilities that the cloud and good software, in general, can offer a business.
For more solutions, have a look at the previous blog on sales software and CRM systems. to understand a bit more about how SaaS can help grow revenue for the business.
This is also in no way advocating for substituting human personal interactions with technology. It will, nevertheless, help you to find ways to bridge the gap when you find that personal contact is not possible.
No one wants to spend hours in traffic leading to stress at work or home. You also wouldn’t want to spend large budgets on unnecessary travel, marketing and communication tools that are not effective.