I noticed a change this year when I went to Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. In the deluge of pitches I received in the weeks prior to the event, there was very little mention of the cloud. Internet of Things seems to have replaced it as the buzzword du jour.
And you know what? That's OK. It's high time to let the cloud just be, instead of talking about it like it's a special way of computing. I remember wondering back in 2009 when people would accept the cloud like we have accepted other forms of computing such as client-server.
It took some time, but I think we've finally reached a level of maturity where the cloud is a given, not something you really have to think about. Surveys have shown that even highly conservative organizations are exploring the cloud and have moved some jobs there.
Heck, even the CIA is using AWS, albeit with a special set of dedicated resources that won't be exposed to the unwashed masses of the public cloud. Companies are being built on the cloud. Whether it's Salesforce (the grandaddy of them all), Box, or ZenDesk on the enterprise side or SnapChat, Instagram, Uber, and Airbnb on the consumer side—to name but a few—these companies would probably not exist today if weren't for cloud resources.
Enterprise companies moving to the cloud
Large companies—from IBM to Microsoft to Oracle and SAP—are all embracing the cloud and trying to find ways to move their customer base there. Microsoft in particular has made a big push with its Azure and Office 365 platforms, recognizing that its desktop/server business is lucrative today but won't be that way forever.
From a pure development perspective, it means instead of taking three years to build the next version of SharePoint, Office, or Windows, Microsoft can instead deliver on a rolling basis, giving customers the benefit of new features much faster and eliminating the headache of managing huge rolling projects forever.
But it's not just about Software as a Service. There is also the matter of creating a platform for developing applications and offering infrastructure on which to run the applications. These large companies along with Google and AWS are doing that for people and offering it at a price that's too good to refuse.
What makes the cloud attractive
Companies looking for more efficient ways to operate realize that the cloud offers a level of flexibility that's impossible in the onsite data center. When you need additional resources, you can order them. When you don't, you can cancel them. With fixed servers, even with the benefit of virtual machines to help make better use of your resources, it's still hard to meet fluctuating demand in a fixed environment short of continually buying new equipment, something that's probably not going to happen for short-term requirements.
The cloud also frees IT personnel from racking and stacking so they can get involved more in the day-to-day needs of the lines of business, coming up with solutions to help them run more efficiently.
This wasn't possible with an onsite data center that required constant care and feeding.
If my experience is any indication, it seems we have finally reached the tipping point, that place where the cloud is the way we do business. Of course, it might not be the only way, but it is a viable option, and the industry seems to recognize that. It's not even worthy of buzzword status anymore.