Cloud computing has enabled businesses to focus on their core competencies and scale up their operations without worrying about the IT infrastructure. That’s pretty much the same take we had many years ago. Now that cloud computing is already more than 20 years old (depending on who you ask), will interest remain in this technology “trend”?
I’m not talking about cloud computing’s ability to provide value to businesses or being a sound and viable technology—that should always drive attention. But will the industry continue to talk about cloud computing as an interesting concept? Is it still something that most enterprises, the tech press, and analysts should continue to follow closely?
This is a fair question considering other technology trends in the IT industry, such as client/server, enterprise application integration, business-to-business, distributed objects, service-oriented architecture, and then cloud computing. I gladly rode most of these waves.
All these concepts still exist, perhaps in larger scale than when public interest was hot. However, they are not discussed as much these days since other technology trends grab more headlines, such as cloud computing and artificial intelligence.
So, should the future hold more interest in cloud computing, less interest, or about the same?
On one hand, cloud computing is becoming more standardized, and, dare I say, commoditized, with most cloud providers offering similar services and capabilities as their competitors. This means businesses no longer need to spend as much time and resources evaluating different providers.
Back in the day, I spent a good deal of time talking about the advantages of cloud storage on one provider over another. Same for databases, AI, and security. These days, pretty much all public cloud services do the same things well, albeit in slightly different ways and at slightly different price points.
Today, pitting one cloud provider against another, which was a common way to drive interest in the past, is not as compelling as it was just a few years ago. If all cloud computing providers do a relatively good job at providing core IT services such as storage, compute, AI, databases, etc., what is there to talk about now?
On the other hand, cloud computing could become more exciting, thanks to the emergence of new technologies and capabilities. Cloud providers are now offering more advanced AI and machine learning services, such as generative AI. Indeed, the excitement around generative AI could not have happened were it not for cloud computing platforms. Much of the rise of generative AI follows the rise of cloud as well. This may create another wave of excitement and hype about cloud computing.
Similarly, cloud providers are increasingly offering edge computing capabilities, allowing businesses to process data closer to the source, reducing latency and improving performance. Although many predicted a few years ago that edge computing would replace cloud computing, it’s more of a symbiotic relationship. Like generative AI, edge computing is driving renewed interest in cloud computing.
Sustainability has also driven more interest in cloud computing lately. Cloud providers are investing heavily in renewable energy and carbon offset programs, enabling businesses to reduce their carbon footprint and meet their sustainability goals. Also, the cloud is simply greener than more traditional, DIY, on-premises approaches.
I suspect that the concept of “cloud computing” will eventually bake itself into the IT zeitgeist, and we’ll discuss it as an isolated idea less and less. The fact that this hasn’t already happened amazes me, considering how ADD the IT industry is. Perhaps it’s because enterprises are taking so long to get this technology right. The multitude of mistakes made over the past several years is well documented, and current interest in cloud computing could be more about understanding technology that was first used improperly.
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