Where does the future of Cloud Computing lie?

Now in its second year, iMM Group's annual “Cloud Computing and Virtualization” conference, will be identifying key trends, opportunities and challenges for senior decision-makers in the public and private sector.

“Cloud” computing is being touted as one of the tech buzzwords of the decade, yet the idea is almost as old as the computer itself. The concept of the “cloud” was first introduced in the 1960s by J.C.R. Licklider, one of the pioneers of the ARPANET, who described his vision for an “intergalactic computer network”.

It has since come a long way with the debut of Salesforce.com in 1999, the introduction of Amazon Web Services in 2002 and later the development of browser based enterprise applications by Google. Cloud services now differ in depth, breadth, style and fine print.

Most of us use cloud services for personal use through services like Hotmail, Flickr and Facebook. But the delivery of infrastructure – including but not limited to servers, platforms and software – via the internet has been met with caution by UK enterprises. A study by Cloud Industry Forum last year found that only 53 per cent of organisations in the UK have adopted cloud services, indicating that many still prefer to build their own IT infrastructure to host databases and software. The same study however posits that cloud adoption is yet to increase by another 20 per cent, adding that the public sector in particular is set for rapid growth as it attempts to catch up with the private sector.

Small organisations have just as much to gain from cloud as large enterprises, and sometimes even more. A recent survey carried out by the Manchester Business School, in partnership with Rackspace, found that, of the 1,300 companies surveyed, 88 per cent identified cost savings with using cloud services while 60 per cent said that cloud computing gave their IT departments more time to focus on strategy and innovation.

What is perhaps most significant is that 90 per cent of new start-ups said that cloud offerings made it easier to set up their business, while almost three-quarters of retailers polled said they had significantly reduced IT costs enabling them to invest more money back into their business.

Cloud technology offers organisations flexibility, scalability and collaborative frameworks in order to achieve a true competitive advantage. Yet it also requires large investment in terms of massive data centres and the establishment of a telecommunications infrastructure that is responsive to the ever-changing demands of increased competition in the global marketplace.

While public sector organisations like the Department of Work and Pensions and the Ministry of Justice have already embraced the government’s G-Cloud framework, many government IT departments are still paralysed by critical questions like when and how to adopt cloud services.

This year’s Cloud Computing conference will bring together key industry and public sector insights to round up the most informed thinking on emerging opportunities and threats. With only a select number of exhibitors the all-day conferences will also present breakthrough technology and process innovations. Kicking off iMMGroup’s cloud computing conference, Dr Will Venters, Lecturer at the London School of Economics, will talk about the coming of the “cloud corporation”.

He posits that we need to think about how we can manage a different type of IT led organisation as new systems, like SmartCities and the Urban-Operating-System, challenge conventional ways of working. This session will be followed by insights from John Lewis Partnership’s Information Security Analyst, Sean Pollnais, on why cloud is attractive to large enterprises as well as issues around out of house control and data security.

In the afternoon delegates will hear from primary school teacher David Andrews on how he is integrating cloud computing to facilitate child-centred individualised learning in his classrooms. Andy Burton, Chair of Cloud Industry Forum, will then explore how hybrid IT models are becoming the norm, blending on-premise, public cloud and hybrid cloud.

Based on research conducted by the Cloud Industry Forum, Andy will provide evidence for the trends in the market and advice on how to embrace the cloud opportunity to drive organisational agility and efficiency. The day will also feature a session by Kate Craig-Wood, from BCS, and later a presentation by Dr David Chadwick, Professor at the University of Kent and member of the Cabinet Office's Identity Assurance team, on a federated OpenStack system. You can register for the conference at www.events.skills4gov.co.uk

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