I recently attended Microsoft’s yearly World Partner Conference (WPC) in Houston, TX. Working for a company that uses Microsoft technologies to build web applications means we want to know what they are up to. I gleaned two important things from having attended the conference:
1. Microsoft is a very large company with huge technology influence throughout the world. This shouldn’t have been a major revelation for me but it became very clear as I saw 14,000 people from 150 countries gathered in one place waiting for Microsoft to tell them what to do next.
2. Microsoft is betting big on the Cloud for the future of their business. Their major focus on Office 365 for the online use and licensing of MS Office products, Windows Azure as their web service platform, and Xbox Live for online entertainment are just a few pieces of evidence that Microsoft intends to take up residence in the upper atmosphere.
And why shouldn’t Microsoft and everyone else place similar bets? Cloud-based application and file storage lift a huge burden from companies, consumers, and computers. The ideal cloud experience means that small, medium, and some day even large sized businesses would no longer need to house and maintain expensive servers for applications and file storage. Consumers should be able to stream all their music, videos, and games. Computers and mobile devices lose the need for tons of space to house bulky applications. They become dumb terminals jacked into the cloud via the internet to get whatever is wanted.
It all sounds amazing and beautiful, but why hasn’t the cloud concept caught fire like we all would have expected? Why aren’t large organizations trading in their super-sized servers yet for a loftier experience? In the US our cloud conduit, the Internet, may still be too bogged down to progress cloud technologies the way companies are hoping to.
In a 2013 Q1 report recently released by Akamai entitled “The State of the Internet”, it was revealed that the United States is only 9th in the rankings for average Internet speeds by Country. And how does this stack up to the 2012 report? The United States actually slipped a spot as they were 8th the year prior. For a country that claims to be a super power, the US is not exactly in pole position to advance the latest cloud technologies.
Faster and faster Internet speeds are required to create the performance needed to advance cloud-based technologies. If our United States cannot keep pace, then cloud advancements must necessarily slow. On July 11th, 2013 SADA Systems posted analysts prediction that “by 2015, 90% of large enterprises and government agencies will have moved to the cloud.” Really? I am surprised that there is that much confidence that infrastructure and speed issues with the Internet in our country will be resolved so quickly. And have they taken into account the major reservations large enterprises and organizations have about cloud security?
This humble observer has a different prediction. By 2015, Internet speeds will be faster, cloud technologies will have wider adoption, but it will take many additional years before we see the confidence in performance large organizations need to give up their iron giants and come with us to the cloud. It will take time, and companies betting big on cloud technologies may need to change race strategies to be slow and steady while the internet catches up. When that day arrives I still believe it will have been worth the wait!