The changing face of the cloud

by Andy Young, a technical architect and certified AWS solutions architect, Saggezza

The global public cloud services market is expected to grow 21.4% to £139bn this year, up from £114.5bn in 2017, according to the latest research by Gartner.

The fastest-growing segment of the market is cloud system infrastructure services (also known as infrastructure as a service or IaaS), which is forecast to grow by 35.9% in 2018.

Gartner also revealed that it expects the top 10 providers to account for nearly 70% of the IaaS market by 2021, a whopping 50% rise when compared to 2016.

So, what is driving this change? Andy Young, a technical architect and certified AWS solutions architect at software development firm Saggezza, points to a number of factors.

He said: “The most recent report by Gartner reduced the number of public cloud vendors from 14 to 6. The team at Gartner are normally very inclusive of vendors so this shows a big shift in their inclusion criteria.

“The criteria for this year seems to have focused more on hyperscale cloud providers, those like AWS and Azure, and this has contributed to some of the smaller, more niche players being forced out of the market.

“This doesn’t mean that cloud adoption is slowing, it’s just becoming more of a monopoly for the larger suppliers. Also, it’s clear to see that the hyperscale IaaS providers are increasing their dominance in the market and this is creating both opportunities and challenges for end users.

“While IaaS presents operational efficiencies and cost benefits, businesses need to be cautious about providers potentially gaining unchecked influence over customers and the market.

“In response to these trends, organisations will increasingly demand a simpler way to move workloads, applications and data across cloud providers’ IaaS offerings without penalties.”

And although public cloud revenue is growing faster than initially forecast, Gartner also stated that it expects growth rates to stabilise from 2018 onwards, reflecting the increasingly mainstream status and maturity that public cloud services will gain within a wider IT spending mix.

Andy adds: “When it comes to IaaS, AWS continue to lead the way, they command around a third of the entire public cloud market and their profits continue to grow rapidly in 2018.

“If you ask me, there are still only two real players, AWS and Azure. The other providers just don’t offer the same range of services and can’t come near the scale of their offering.

“However, for a business deciding between the two, there isn’t a simple comparison guide, it’s a case of understanding what your business needs are now and in the future. Also, businesses must consider the impact of vendor lock-in.

“If you adopt a particular vendor today, what happens when you want to move in the future? How do you transfer your cloud services without impacting your business? It’s all about designing services to fit the cloud model, lift and shift from your existing data centre infrastructure isn’t an option.

“And more and more industries are now adopting public cloud than ever before. The public services sector is a prime example. They were traditionally cautious over data security but are now beginning to realise the benefits the cloud can bring.

“Another example is the financial services sector. Many businesses in the sector, and rightly so, have aired concerns over regulation and security over recent years.

“But now, as cloud computing technology continues to advance and become more mainstream, it is safer than ever and is helping deliver real tangible benefits to businesses of all shapes and sizes.”