Only a few years ago IT professionals were hotly debating whether or not to employ cloud technology. But today companies are creating “cloud first” strategies and enterprise adoption of public cloud services is on the rise. International Data Corporation (IDC) predicts the public cloud will account for more than half of software, server, and storage spending growth in 2018. As the technology evolves to address needs for security, mobility, and access across devices, businesses are adopting these technologies in record numbers to lower costs and manage vast sums of data.

From the data center to the cloud

The Cisco Global Cloud Index (2014) predicts 31% of all cloud workloads will be in public cloud data centers by 2018. Data centers are also being asked to manage large volumes of data. Cisco estimates the data collected by machines and other devices will total more than 400 ZB. This is nearly 50 times higher than all data center traffic, so not all of this data will reach the data center, but it is fueling the need for storage and advanced analytics for processing data in more efficient ways. In any event, cloud traffic is expected to increase significantly, accounting for nearly three-fourths of all data center traffic by 2018.

Enterprises go public

The public cloud is increasingly being seen as a viable solution for organizations of all sizes. According to the State of The Cloud Report by RightScale (2015), 88% of organizations surveyed are using public clouds while 63% are using private clouds. The report was based on empirical evidence from a cross section of enterprise and SMBs users, but if you look at just enterprise respondents, 82% reported using multiple cloud services, which is up from 74% in 2014.

GE, for example, is going "all-in" with the public cloud. In an interview with InfoWorld, COO of IT Chris Drumgoole estimated that more than 90% of apps deployed by GE in 2014 were in the public cloud. GE plans to reduce the number of its own data centers in favor of public cloud services. Big data projects are included in the migration to the public cloud. Drumgoole also said GE is working through the challenges of scaling and maintaining large amounts of big data in the cloud. The opening of GE’s Industrial Internet platform Predix will enable other companies to build on the technology GE has developed to manage its own data.

Public sector stepping up, too

The U.S. federal government is also adopting public cloud solutions. The Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMPstreamlines the process of public cloud adoption across governmental agencies. The program, which is required for government agencies deploying cloud services, reviews and approves cloud service providers and then helps agencies to determine which certified provider best meets their needs.

Cloud service providers are carving away the traditional data center to reveal a faster, more reliable, and highly cost effective alternative. Cloud adoption is on the rise in all markets and the trend is expected to continue through 2018. If these trends continue, the preferred data center in 2020 may well be in the public cloud.

About the author

GE Digital

Driving Digital Transformation

GE Digital connects streams of machine data to powerful analytics and people, providing industrial companies with valuable insights to manage assets and operations more efficiently. World-class talent and software capabilities help drive digital industrial transformation for big gains in productivity, availability and longevity. We do this by leveraging Predix, our cloud-based operating system, purpose built for the unique needs of industry.