Gartner estimates that the global market for cloud services is currently totalled at $46-billion, and is projected to reach $150-billion by 2013.
Cloud is the biggest buzzword in the industry at present, which inevitably means that the market is rife with conflicting and misleading perceptions. It is important not to use the term loosely, as many online applications are incorrectly labelled as "cloud", says Dominic Oettl, CEO of Think iT, an EOH company.
“It is not so much about the services and applications that can be utilised through cloud computing as it is about the method by which it is provisioned and consumed by the end-user. The truth is, however, that most opinions at this point are exactly that, an opinion, and given time the hype will level out.”
Oettl says that many Internet based technologies are misconstrued for being cloud computing.
“The differentiating factor that sets cloud computing apart is the model that it presents. Cloud computing redefines the way in which we deliver technology and applications to our customers. A true cloud platform should be multi-tenanted and provide a service that is paid for on a consumption or subscription basis that only requires a device and connectivity from the user to interface with the infrastructure provided.
"It is a definite departure from the methods we have used over the last few years,” says Oettl.
Cloud computing is shaping up to be the information technology sector’s biggest development this decade. Even though it is a relatively new business offering in South Africa and Africa at large, statistics are emerging that support customer confidence growing in the offering. The potential to bring country government operations into the cloud does, however, remain a challenge.
Security remains cloud computing’s Achilles heel, says Stephen de Witt from BT Cape, a division of EOH.
“Complex data protection regulations currently render the cloud unsuitable for governmental use, yet the significant long-term cost reductions cannot be ignored. Once legislation is amended and the cloud tightened for governmental use, opportunities will increase exponentially.”
Analysts are conservatively pegging the timeframe for cloud to become a viable option to governmental operations at five years. The innovative low-cost service offered by cloud computing does however offer a significant business opportunity for small and medium enterprise (SME) businesses in the medium to long term.
“The low barrier to entry that cloud computing presents is particularly attractive to cost-driven SMEs reluctant to spend on IT infrastructure. The basic structure of a cloud computing model only requires payment for resources utilised on a subscription business model, which effectively turns capital expenditure into operational expenditure where the cost is relative to the services utilised,” explains De Witt.