I used to work with a colleague who often wore a T-shirt that said “There is no cloud, just someone else’s data centre.”
Whether you think that’s funny or not (he thought it was hilarious), there’s no denying that the shirt stated a basic fact.
Cloud computing is not a new phenomenon; in fact, cloud computing and cloud service providers have been around since 1983 when CompuServe offered its consumer users a small amount of disk space to store files. These were the early adopters, but it illustrated the basic concept of compute and storage resources as a service.
So, why has it taken so long to become mainstream? If the technology was developed to respond to business needs, why did we not see a wave of demand in the late 80s and throughout the 90s?
The beginning of the Cloud
There are a number of different reasons, but I’ll just focus on what I think are the key ones. For starters, when CompuServe launched in 1983, their service disk drives were expensive, limited in size and the machines they were in were not easily upgradable. In fact, we were still using 5¼” floppy disks (!) so there were some clear practical and economic obstacles. Another key reason was that the connection to remote servers was via a dialup service, operating at between 2400bps to 9600bps (I know because I used to set them up). As a result, they were painfully slow, unreliable, and suitable only for the smallest of files, one after the other.
The growth of data centres
You can see why businesses started to build their own data centres. Compute and storage resources were following Moore’s law, becoming more powerful and cheaper every couple of years and virtual machine software was making efficient use of resources. However, fast and reliable communication links were still expensive and were only affordable for the biggest enterprises with multiple sites where the need to centrally store files and to access databases was critical.
Small to medium sized businesses generally didn’t have the same challenge because most SMBs had a single location or one main location with remote access to the data centre from satellite offices. What’s more, because they also had a smaller user population, data centres proved to be sufficient for their needs.
Let’s face it – building a data centre, even a small one (and by that I mean a rack in the corner of the office) is a major capital expense. Once a business has taken a decision to make this investment, it wants to get the most out of this valuable asset and keep it in place for as long as possible, which makes complete sense from an ROI perspective. Essentially, once you have servers in place and you need to expand, you can simply add another one.
The rise of cloud computing
However, whilst this organic growth of data centre infrastructure was happening, public and private cloud companies and cloud service providers were starting to gather momentum. Vast data centres in remote locations were being constructed, broadband speeds began to increase, and costs started to come down as deregulation enabled a competitive market. What’s more, financial managers started to look at the wisdom of funding IT services from their Opex budget rather than their Capex budget, and IT staff who would usually spend a lot of their time maintaining the DC infrastructure were free to focus on IT strategy, applications and data.
Why now is the right time to move to the Cloud
As a result of all of these changes, growing SMBs no longer need to be concerned about scalability. The major buying decision of new hardware and software has been replaced by a seamless scaling of compute, storage and networking based on a consumption model. SMBs that have a summer close-down, for example, no longer have to pay for what they are not using, and the burgeoning of the Software as a Service (SaaS) market has given businesses the ability to consume service via their web browsers.
Plus, we shouldn’t overlook another key factor here: security. Ageing, badly maintained on-premises infrastructure is a target for malicious attacks, whilst at the same time in contravention of data protection regulations. With this in mind, you can see why the cloud is becoming increasingly popular. In fact, the global cloud market is expected to reach $488.5 billion by 2026, rising at a 16% CAGR during the forecast period.
Cloud solutions at Clovertec
As one of the UK’s leading cloud service providers, at Clovertec we have developed cloud services that are currently being enjoyed by several of our customers. We own and operate a private managed cloud infrastructure in a hosted data centre, providing backup, storage, RDS and disaster recovery services. What’s more, we are also a Microsoft partner and can help businesses move to the public cloud, either wholly or in a hybrid model.
The hybrid model is extremely popular, because it allows the customer to maintain their assets for selected applications and workloads whilst migrating other services to the cloud with a view to a long term, cloud-only model in the future. This takes planning and careful consideration, with detailed conversations with customers in order to build a strategic migration plan that follows Microsoft’s assessment process.
There are still around half of small to medium sized businesses that have not yet made the move to cloud, but the tide has definitely begun to turn and we expect to see an acceleration of migration in the next two to three years. As experts in all things cloud computing, at Clovertec we are here to support you in your journey – simply contact our dedicated team today to find out how we can help!