The digital universe - just like the physical version - is expanding at a phenomenal rate. According to IDC, worldwide data will grow 61 per cent compounded annually to 175 zettabytes in just six years, with as much of the data residing in the cloud as in data centres.
Where is all the data coming from?
The rise of 5G and the subsequent boom of connected devices is going to play a major role in this data explosion. Self-driving cars is a primary example - this future form of transport will require a huge amount of data throughput, with cameras and sensors relaying all the information through 5G and uploading it to the cloud to build a highly-detailed picture of the road.
Storing all the data collected by sources such as IoT sensors provides the context you need for real business transformation and smart decisions. Now that we’ve entered the zettabyte era, we’re talking about tens or even hundreds of zettabytes of IoT data alone being generated by next year. Just how much data is that?
According to Cisco, if each terabyte in a zettabyte were a kilometre, one zettabyte would be equivalent to 1,300 round trips to the moon and back. Multiply that by ten, and you’ll start to get an idea of the volume of IoT data we’re talking about. Now think about all of the other kinds of data being generated – how are companies managing all of that?
Data belongs in the cloud(s)
These days data isn’t just a byproduct of a business, it is the business. Companies across all industries need to store, manage, and access their data affordably and reliably in order to compete, and this means storing their data in the cloud.
According to LogicMonitor, 83 per cent of enterprise workloads will be in the cloud by 2020, while Gartner predicts that by 2021, over 75 per cent of medium and large organisations will have adopted either a multi-cloud or hybrid IT strategy - which refers to companies using a mixture of on-premise and third-party clouds.
Data is growing at such a frenetic pace that, for the majority of companies, it doesn’t make strategic sense for them to run their own data centres. It makes much more sense for these companies to outsource their data to a specialised cloud storage provider at a fraction of the cost, allowing them to spend their manpower on driving business innovation.
Freedom, flexibility and avoiding vendor lock-in
There are a number of other factors driving the move to multi cloud. Firstly, customers are wary of having all their eggs in one basket. The big three cloud providers (Amazon, Microsoft and Google) would like to have 100 per cent of your cloud infrastructure and their strength lies in offering everything you could want in one integrated service. But by offering dozens of services means you can’t be the best at everything. It’s like going to the supermarket for one-stop shopping with everything you need under one roof. There’s some appeal in this for developers who don’t want to deal with the complexities of multi cloud, however it also subjects them to an oppressive pricing structure and vendor lock-in. It’s free to put data in, but the big firms charge hefty fees to take it out. So it can be prohibitively expensive to leave and go to another provider.
Smaller, specialised cloud companies have sprung up to compete with the tech behemoths, allowing customers to get the best cloud experience for their needs at affordable prices, while avoiding the trappings of vendor lock-in. Today, cloud vendors like Stackpath, Packet, Limelight and others are thriving by competing directly with different aspects of Amazon’s services. Meanwhile, at Wasabi, we offer storage that is Amazon S3-compatible but both faster and more affordable. Dozens of companies with specialties ranging from numerical analytics to facial recognition are offering best-of-breed innovations in their narrow spaces. Everything from compute in the cloud to storage, and from analytics to CDNs, can all work together - this is due to the fact that they have adopted Amazon’s APIs as standard, making it relatively easy for customers to migrate.
We’re also seeing competition between the tech giants and their customers due to them overlapping in sector, notably in retail and entertainment. With these companies growing so large and having their fingers in so many pies, other businesses are wary of handing their data and money over to rivals. As one Hollywood studio executive I recently met at a media trade show said: “[Amazon is] competing with us by making their own movies and TV shows, so why would I want to give [AWS] even one nickel?”
In the coming years, we can look forward to a more diverse marketplace of interconnected clouds, created by a wide range of vendors with different specialties. While it’s more than likely the big three will continue to thrive given the whole ecosystem is growing so rapidly, cloud services will become much more decentralised as customers find the freedom and flexibility they need to effectively master their data. A multi-cloud world awaits, where companies can choose the best individual vendors for the various services they need, all working seamlessly together.
David Friend, co-founder and CEO, Wasabi Technologies