As a technology journalist, I've been writing about cloud computing for so long, it feels like it should have been mainstream for years now, but the fact is that most companies take a go-slow approach to any new technology. The cloud has not been spared this effect, but it looks like next year, we could finally see the cloud come of age.I first started hearing about the cloud in 2008 (and the concept has been around much longer than that without that particular label) and at the time it was dominated by discussions about AWS, Google, and Salesforce.com. While those three players are still dominant, they are far from alone. Whole successful enterprise companies have been born in the cloud, from Box to Zendesk and Workday and just about every area of enterprise software, whether we are talking sales, marketing, HR, ERP or any other line of business requirement.
At first, those companies looked like a little bit of a risky bet and this cloud thing was a little tough to wrap your arms around. The idea of handing over control of your content to a third-party vendor and counting on them for security was, well, radical. Some companies saw the benefits, especially those without the burden of legacy hardware and software, but while forward-thinking companies experimented with the cloud, it wasn't exactly the norm inside large companies.
The early years were dominated by FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) as non-cloud vendors could pull out the security card and shake their heads and cluck the tongues and wonder how anyone could trust these guys with their content. Thankfully, we have moved beyond that, mostly at least, and the majority of IT pros understand that cloud computing is not a vast conspiracy to steal your data. It's in fact a viable tool in the arsenal and it makes sense to move some workloads to the cloud as you begin to transition aging software and hardware.
Certainly, one thing we can learn from the Sony Hack is that major corporations do not always have a great handle on basic security, such as leaving your employee's social security numbers in an unprotected Excel file. The next time someone uses the security argument, just point to that.
That's not say that cloud computing isn't vulnerable to similar attacks because all computing systems are vulnerable, but cloud vendors tend to take security a bit more seriously than your average corporation (like ahem Sony). They have to. Their very livelihood depends on it.
Which brings us to the obligatory year-end prediction. As we moved through 2014, we started to see signs that the cloud was mainstreaming. The discussions weren't around security and wondering if cloud vendors were able to handle it. They were around how do we make the cloud services work with our existing ones.
And as we have seen the hybrid approach to cloud computing take center stage, it seems we have finally, at long last, reached a level of cloud maturity where it will be commonplace inside most organizations moving forward.
Each company will have its own level of comfort when it comes to moving their content or workloads to the cloud, but it won't be a question of if, come 2015. It will be a discussion of what and how that will happen. And it's about time.
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