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Cloud computing: What's next?

HP Cloud
by Antony Savvas, 27 May 2014
Cloud computing: What's next?

The number of people using cloud services will increase to 3.6 billion by 2018, according to Juniper Research. The firm says that 2.4 billion people currently use cloud-based services in one form or another, with cloud-based data storage, social media, music and games helping to drive the trend upwards.

But what are the new cloud technology developments that cloud service providers will be delivering? This HP whitepaper takes a closer look and aims to help organisations get ready to make the most of them.

Research firm Gartner says that organisations should not block the personal cloud services open to individuals that enable them to do their jobs more efficiently. As analyst Jeffrey Mann says, "Because we have access to very good tools in our private lives we expect the same level of functionality and performance in business."

Read more: The top five trends in cloud computing

Enterprise collaboration is being transformed by mobile, bring your own device (BYOD), social media and big data, and these are driving new cloud developments.

Personal cloud storage services

There is growing use of personal cloud storage and sharing tools at work. Although these services make it easier for staff to access and share content, they potentially make it easier for corporate data to end up in the wrong hands. Gartner says that many organisations either ignore how many of their staff are using personal cloud storage services or actively discourage them from using them.

Gartner also says that this is the wrong approach and that personal cloud data storage services should be actively encouraged, as they aid greater collaboration across the business. "Don't try to block these services, try and exploit this phenomenon," said Monica Basso, an analyst. Gartner reckons that by 2016, every mobile device will be connected to at least five different cloud data storage or sharing apps.

Disaster-recovery-as-a-service

Disaster-recovery-as-a-service (DRaaS) is set to become a useful cloud service for those organisations who want a scalable and flexible solution to back up their data and applications, without having to establish their own dedicated remote data centre facility. Particularly useful for smaller companies, DRaaS eliminates the costs of offsite data centre replication and can still deliver near-instant data recovery times.

DRaaS sees an onsite disaster recovery (DR) appliance being located on the premises of the cloud customer, and then integrated and automatically backed-up to a remote cloud-based DR platform located at the DRaaS provider's facilities. This allows companies to recover their critical applications and data in the cloud after any storage, systems or site failure. With data volumes being generated by organisations continuing to spiral, companies considering a DRaaS package should look for a DRaaS per appliance cost model, rather than a per gigabyte price service, as this may potentially work out much cheaper.

The Internet of Things

Internet of Things (IoT) components are smart and programmable devices that can be remotely controlled and linked to other devices, ranging from utility smart meters and kitchen fridges to vehicle telematics. The IoT connectivity drive will create a market worth up to $8.9 trillion (£5.3 trillion) by 2020, according to analyst IDC, and the cloud will play centre-stage in supporting it. IDC expects the installed base of the IoT will be around 212 billion "things" globally by the end of 2020.

"There is no doubt that business and consumer demand exists and will continue to expand for IoT solutions," said analyst Vernon Turner. IDC says that market enablers for the rise of IoT include the ongoing development of smart cities, cars and houses and a growing culture of personal connectivity. The Internet of Things will require a major rethinking of data centre capacity management to deal with huge data growth, according to Gartner.

Read more: 10 major cloud computing terms you need to know

"IoT deployments will generate large quantities of data that need to be processed and analysed in real time," said Fabrizio Biscotti, a Gartner analyst. According to Gartner, the amount of network connections and data organisations will need to deal with as part of the IoT, will drive them towards distributed data centre management, with cloud-based hosted services playing a big part in enabling organisations to cope with data processing, data analytics and data storage.

Cloud-based home management systems

Cloud-based home management systems, that allow users to remotely control household features like lighting and air conditioning, are set for rapid growth in the coming years, with the installed base set to rise by a factor of eight from 2013 to 2018. The global installed base for such services is projected to grow to 44.6 million at the end of 2018, up from 5.6 million at the end of 2013, according to research firm IHS Technology. As part of the IoT phenomenon, the installed base for such systems is expected to surge 63 per cent to 9.1 million this year, the organisation reckons. 

"Imagine using your smartphone or tablet to detect an intruder in your home or to adjust the temperature in your living room, no matter where you are," said Lisa Arrowsmith, associate director for connectivity, smart homes and smart cities at IHS. "Cloud-based home management makes all this possible, and much more. With a wide range of companies offering such solutions, the cloud-based home management system business will expand dramatically in the coming years."

Security, telecoms and utility firms have already jumped into the cloud-based home management market, seeking to offer new services in addition to their much more established ones, in an attempt to reduce customer churn and increase average revenue per user (ARPU). In Europe, the drive towards smart metering in the home for utility services has aided the market, with the likes of British Gas, Essent, Eneco, Nuon, RWE, EnBW and Eon all involved.

Transforming the retail sector

Retail chains are increasingly turning to the cloud to aid their national and international expansion. Single platform cloud-based business suites can offer services such as financial consolidation, tax compliance support, multi-currency and multi-language support, inventory management, order management and warehouse management. Cloud platforms in this market can streamline core business processes, improve operational efficiency and help retailers gain the agility and speed they need to grow.

Such solutions are even more important, as retailers seek to establish an "omnichannel" existence by offering their goods and services through their own physical stores, concessions in other retailers' stores, over the phone, and through various online channels. At the moment, their efforts can be stifled through a lack of integration and scalability across existing systems, which include dedicated financial suites, ordering systems, warehouse platforms and numerous disparate spreadsheets.

Read more: Public, private, hybrid: Which cloud is best for your business?

The lack of centralised information management between these systems can lead to data inconsistencies and inaccuracies, which can cause problems in the delivery of products to both consumers and global retail partners. One-stop cloud-based retail platforms make it easier for companies to add extra currencies and country support to their omnichannel presence, allowing them to scale more easily and continue their global expansion.

Consolidating all systems within one centralised platform can free up retail managers and their financial departments from having to devote significant time to running reports and data analysis. And because such systems are based in the cloud, entire teams can access and analyse data quickly wherever they are.

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