Every business needs to scale and stay as future-relevant as possible given the dynamic changes in technology and also technology-adoption patterns.
This is why cloud adoption has become a priority for most enterprise, mid-level and even small organisations. This fact reflects in the industry estimates too- the global public cloud services market is projected to grow from $175.8B in 2018 to $206.2B in 2019, a 17.33 percent growth (Source: Gartner).
Cloud computing presents organisations and individuals the ability to store, share and access data across locations and devices, enabling effective scalability in today’s global marketplace.
Cloud and the (immense growing potential) within the B2B Landscape
There are numerous reasons for companies to go the cloud way, but for B2B enterprises, it presents even more relevant benefits, considering their organisational models and needs:
- Agility and Scalability: The subscription-based nature of cloud environments is a boon for B2B companies to scale up or down and to stay agile and flexible and cater to quick changes within the workplace.
- Anytime, anywhere access to data: Today, much of B2B business happens globally. Storing and sharing data across the globe is a necessity for better decision making especially in today’s VUCA times.
- Cost advantage: Turning to the cloud allows businesses to outsource their non-core IT agendas. This eliminates the need to invest in heavy IT infrastructure, security measures etc.-> definitely a cost advantage!
- Disaster Recovery: Professional cloud service providers offer reliable data-backup and disaster recovery services as well, making business continuity much easier for B2B enterprises. Definitely a game-saver.
- Communication and collaboration-friendly: An intangible benefit is that cloud helps promote cross-locational, cross-functional sharing of information and communication, thereby fostering a culture of team work and collaboration- a key success factor for B2B businesses.
How Businesses usually jump onto the Cloud Bandwagon
While cloud computing is clearly beneficial to B2B companies, the point is that the current market is flooded with numerous cloud service providers and subscription package options.
What matters most to businesses is finding an appropriate cloud setup that aligns with their needs and fits their core model.
So, what are the factors that usually matter?
- The cloud location- Public versus Private versus Hybrid: The first question they consider is whether to have their data and applications hosted on a public cloud server, or a private one on-premises, where they can host on their own infrastructure. An optimised solution may be a hybrid network, where critical applications are private and rest are publicly hosted. If they share a common interest or goal with other organisations, a community cloud could be a great idea for them as well. The choice of cloud location has far reaching implications on data security, control and other important elements of organisational operations.
- The service type:
- IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service): Businesses use this when they want to rent the IT infrastructure required for hosting their data.
- PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service): The next level is to rent cloud-environment platforms that allows them to design, develop and deploy cloud applications on a pay-as-you-go basis.
- SaaS (Software-as-a-Service): Businesses use SaaS to subscribe to software application plans that suit their specific tech needs. Several global companies choose this to host and manage the software, as well as get involved in the maintenance.
- NaaS (Network-as-a-Service): Businesses may choose to rent from a range of networking services such as virtual private networks (VPN), wide area networks (WAN), security firewalls, etc., when they want something on a need basis.
- FaaS (Functions-as-a-Service): This is the latest in the league that companies choose to develop, run, and manage application functionalities without the need to pay attention to the underlying infrastructure.
As a cloud provider, when you understand and outline the business purpose for going the cloud way, including the investment assessment and long-term outlook for their techno-business landscape, it is easier to scan the market to meet their real needs.
Top cloud providers: 2017 and 2018
As we’ve reiterated before, the market is flooded with cloud service providers, majority of whom operate in the IaaS, PaaS and SaaS areas.
Here is a roundup of some of the leading large-scale and niche players, based on multiple sources and technographic data:
- Amazon Web Services (AWS): AWS accounted for all of Amazon's 2017 operating income, which indicates its forte and focus on cloud computing. It has a superb SLA for compute-instances i.e. 99.99 percent and is widely known for its on-demand cloud services, allowing you to customise your infrastructure requirements.
- Microsoft Azure: It includes, but is not limited to the popular Office 365 business services modules, Dynamics 365 and the Enterprise Mobility + Security Suite (EMS). With an annual revenue run rate of $21.2 billion, Microsoft Commercial Cloud is the leader. It is in expansion mode- recently Azure added new regions in France and Australia respectively. Technically, Azure’s SLA for compute instances stands at 99.95 percent.
- Google Cloud Platform: G Suite and Google Cloud Platform are the main contributors towards cloud-growth at Google, with cloud now accounting for $1 billion per quarter business (2017). The latest in the Google platform is the launch of a new region in Finland, with three availability zones. Google has also joined the likes of AWS, Azure and IBM Cloud in becoming a FedRAMP-compliant service provider. Another feather in the wing is its new policy-based service called Cloud Armor, which protects against infrastructure and application distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. Google’s SLA for compute instances is now said to have improved to 99.99 percent.
- IBM Cloud: With pre-configured, ready-to-deploy tools as well as customizable options, IBM Cloud Service revenues exceeded $ 10 billion in 2017. One must watch out for its new feature called “Mass Data Migration”, as a direct competition to AWS Snowball, Azure Import/Export Service, and Google Transfer Appliance. IBM has further upped its game by introducing an integrated identity and access management solution, IBM Security Identity in direct response to AWS, Azure, and Google.
- Salesforce: An early pioneer of the SaaS model, Salesforce has continuously evolved in the segment of customer relationship management in the cloud. While it was originally known for its state-of-the-art enterprise applications related to sales, marketing, commerce, services, etc., the ERP provider is going futuristic in its game by partnering with Google. Now, Google’s G Suite productivity apps can be integrated into Salesforce signature ERPs offering B2B players a unique productivity edge.
- SAP: Another company which has evolved from being a standard applications provider to a progressive SaaS player is SAP Cloud Platform. It derives from a host of emerging technologies such as advanced analytics, blockchain and machine learning. The enterprise application is based on SAP HANA database technology and uses open source standards, which allows you the right balance of flexibility and control over your cloud deployments.
- Oracle: Oracle’s PaaS offering i.e. Oracle Cloud Platform allows businesses to develop, extend, connect, and secure cloud applications as per their requirement. The IaaS services extend across compute, storage, network, container services, and much more. Its intuitive migration tools help simplify migrations from on-premise to the cloud.
- Rackspace: For companies whose need includes better personification, a smaller organization such as this may fit the bill. Businesses can choose from any of Rackspace’s associated cloud providers through their platform that offers a range of public cloud, private cloud, hybrid cloud and multi-cloud services, Rackspace now builds its IaaS solution on the open source operating system, OpenStack. Rackspace is known for its excellent customer service.
To make the most of all these options and many more, organisations are looking at incorporating multiple cloud players in their stack, some also running private networks parallelly. For example, VMware running on AWS is a classic example of a futuristic model. The future of cloud seems to be in such partnerships, bringing together the best of both worlds- public and private cloud.
The Way Ahead for Cloud Computing
Making cloud work for any business is as much about understanding its business context as it is about keeping an eye on the latest trends. Here are some of the futuristic practices that technographics and data suggest will take the limelight:
- The rise of microservice solutions rather than monolith applications to increase agility.
- Function-as-a-service is likely to gain traction as organizations look to move away from the hassles of managing infrastructure and backends.
- AI and IoT integrations: As boundaries blur between the physical and virtual worlds, there will be a rise of IoT devices and data management in the cloud, going hand-in-hand.
- Multi-cloud shall dominate: Organizations are demanding plug-and-play solutions which bring together disparate cloud solutions in the best suited way for them. We may expect more VMware cum Google type of associations.
So, how are you planning to keep pace with these cloud adoption trends? Or better still, beat them?With this progressive outlook, there will be a distinct change in the way cloud computing is looked at. Earlier it was considered a mere cost reduction strategy or a good-to-have technological edge, today it seems integral to business success. As per the 2018 IDG Cloud Computing Report, 95% of all organisations will be relying on the SaaS model for application delivery in 18 months, with IaaS increasing to 83% and PaaS, 73%.