How is cloud computing evolving?

Cloud computing has become one of the more exciting and ubiquitous technologies in the public and private sectors throughout the past several years, driven by organizations' need for agile, affordable and modernized IT frameworks. Not so long ago, researchers and analysts were asserting that the cloud would be more akin to a utility than a novel set of services, meaning that companies, government agencies and households would use the solutions as the foundation of their technological investments.

In many ways, the technology has met and exceeded expectations with respect to the speed of its spread, as organizations in a wealth of industries and regions have already deployed at least one service, and a growing majority are moving forward with even more progressive plans to expand the investments. It should not be all that surprising that cloud computing is being positioned so highly on the priority list, as it has been found to better enable the deployment of other key strategies such as big data, telecommuting, mobility and beyond.

Although the market has come such a long way in a relatively short period of time, innovation and advancement have not come close slowing quite yet, and there are no signs that this would begin any time soon. Rather, competition is heating up among vendors, while businesses build comfort with the technology and apply it to a greater range of operational needs and objectives with the passing of each year.

First, a look at demand and use
In case decision-makers are wondering how investments are performing in the cloud computing arena, it might be helpful to take a look at recent research regarding these matters. IDG Enterprise released its 2014 Cloud Computing Study earlier this month, affirming the core advantages being enjoyed among service adopters including enhanced ability to innovate, speedier response to market fluctuations and overall strengthening of agility in the IT department.

According to the report, small and medium-sized businesses have fallen behind the pace of larger enterprises when it comes to the amount of budget directed toward the cloud, though this might not be the best comparison given the much higher revenues of bigger companies. Interestingly, internal research and evaluations have been some of the more common focuses of decision-makers across industries and size classifications, with 38 percent having identified the full breadth of IT objectives that could be attained through the use of the cloud.

A little more than half of respondents to the incorporated survey said they are still in the process of researching their IT operations and objectives to see what other types of functions could be hosted in the cloud. IDG Enterprise also pointed out that organizations appear to be changing gears with respect to the reasoning behind cloud investments, working to become better innovators and more agile competitors rather than simply trying to reduce costs.

At the end of the day, each company should have its own reasons for deploying cloud services, but these core advantages will likely drive adoption higher for years to come.

What is to come?
As the end of the year rapidly approaches, it has become clear that the market for cloud computing solutions will remain in a category of its own going into 2015. With greater understanding and comfort has come a whole range of novel applications that align cloud service offerings with core business functions, especially given the depleted sense of fear surrounding the technology that was once among its greatest hindrances.

Firms that have not yet implemented cloud services might fall behind the competition in a variety of fashions, as economic analysts have urged the importance of maintaining fast and agile operations across the business to be successful in the modern market landscape. Without the cloud, other major trends that come with significant strategic advantages such as the intelligence garnered from big data and productivity-driving power of mobility will be far more difficult to field.

By taking a structured, aggressive approach to hosting applications and other tools in cloud computing environments, businesses can better prepare themselves to compete in today's markets, as well as those of the future, with more fluidity and financial opportunity.