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Industries Go to the Cloud

Digital technology is shaping the future. The dramatic convergence of the cloud, mobile, networks, and Big Data is a catalyst that’s empowering business owners, consumers, and creative partners to drive a new connectivity that can enrich all humanity.

Right now, the world is seeing how a new style of elastically scalable computing — the cloud — is impacting business, productivity, and lifestyles. Cloud platforms are already vital to enterprise application strategies, with Forrester Research, an independent technology and market research firm, estimating that one-quarter of developers globally are using cloud services.

“Over the next four to five years, we expect a ten-fold increase in the number of new cloud-based solutions,” says Frank Gens, Senior Vice President and Chief Analyst at the global market intelligence firm IDC. “Many of these solutions will become more strategic than traditional IT has ever been. At the same time, there will be unprecedented competition and consolidation among the leading cloud providers. This combination of explosive innovation and intense competition will make the next several years a pivotal period for current and aspiring IT market leaders.”

As this technology continues to evolve, the connectivity it enables will drive economic transformation worldwide, as well as cause even more massive changes for individuals, businesses, and governments. In short, the cloud revolution will not tolerate standing still.

Quantifying the Cloud

Cloud computing has become the platform of choice to power the applications necessary to manage national economies, industrial infrastructure, and consumer services. And, since it offers utility-scale computational power to support the burgeoning Internet of Things (IoT) and Big Data applications, the cloud’s continued growth is a foregone conclusion.

According to the research firm Saugatuck Technology, more than 60 percent of enterprises will have at least half of their infrastructure on cloud-based platforms by 2018. IDC forecasts, in that same timeframe, public cloud spending will more than double to USD 127.5 billion. According to a Goldman Sachs study, spending on cloud computing infrastructure and platforms will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 30 percent through 2018 — much higher than the five percent of growth forecast for overall enterprise IT.

“Cloud users are realizing benefits that impact business directly via agility, simplicity, collaboration, and innovation,” says Robert Mahowald, Program Vice President at IDC, and leader of IDC’s SaaS & Cloud Services practice.

However, fully embracing digitalization and transforming into a digital enterprise that doesn’t only use the cloud in an ad hoc way — a trend known as ‘shadow IT’ — is an effort that’s beyond the capabilities of many organizations’ IT departments. For that reason, while some companies are on the way to becoming adept at leveraging the cloud, many have been slow to move ahead — even if they understand that being inactive risks a competitive disadvantage.

The Power of Partnership

CIOs, technology vendors, and consultants all agree that a serious shortage of cloud computing skills and a lack of understanding of cloud-centric business processes across the IT industry threaten to impede adoption and deployments.

An IDC survey shows just how naïve many IT departments are about their level of cloud adoption: They typically believe themselves to be one to two stages beyond where they actually are. “For these companies, it’s a wakeup call that they need partners with skills to route them to the destination,” notes IDC’s Mahowald.

In the future, businesses seem likely to bypass their in-house IT and look to experienced Information and Communications Providers (ICPs) to handle the end-to-end workflows of mission-critical applications. Doing so will allow them to more readily take advantage of the new digital world.

“It will be the experienced cloud providers who can offer innovative cloud solutions to their customers, whether they’re in the financial, urban government, media production, enterprise campus, or software development markets,” adds Yan Lida, President of the Enterprise Business Group at Huawei Technologies, Inc., a leading global Information and Communications Technology (ICT) solutions provider. However, as they enable digital transformation for their partners, ICT providers will also face challenges.

Building a Better Connected World

In a world that, by 2025, may have 100 billion digital devices connected to the IoT — an estimated USD 2 trillion global market — ICT providers will need to engineer a digital ecosystem with a connected infrastructure and mobile broadband technology to the highest standard, faster than ever, for everyone, everywhere.

Given how vast this ecosystem needs to be, it’s clear that no single company can serve every customer across the entire industry. Instead, enterprises will need to maintain close collaborations with hundreds of technology partners in order to build a solid cloud ecosystem — one that’s based on cooperation, openness, and mutual benefit.

To deliver the best user experience, organizations not only need to construct future-oriented infrastructure that ensures agile innovation but also need to focus on the creation of a healthy and open industry ecosystem where all players along the value chain collaborate and contribute.

In the digital economy, no one company can serve all customers, making it that much more important to create new solutions with the help of a partner. For that reason, leading global companies have chosen Huawei to help them offer innovative cloud solutions. This has happened across all sectors.

In finance, adopting a cloud solution means satisfying an Internet generation that demands promptness, reliability, and precision, as well as building IT systems able to dynamically allocate resources to keep pace with real-time changes in business volume. In the Smart City of the future, keeping pace with digitalization means supporting a culture of innovation that allows government agencies to collect and share information that will achieve greater convenience and security for its citizens by simplifying complicated bureaucracies.

Likewise, virtually every other industry has been touched by these advances, from healthcare (where a patient’s information can be stored in the cloud so they can receive expert service even at distant facilities) and manufacturing (reducing the production cycle of cars to six hours) to education (where more students can share high-quality educational resources) and media (allowing reporters to share breaking news in real time with audiences using their laptop or mobile device).

“There’s a need to develop ICT infrastructure with an open structure through joint innovation that provides enterprises with more cutting-edge products to drive business transformations and add value,” Lida concludes. “We believe that the impact of ICT should be measured by how many people can benefit from it. Our aim is to act as a responsible corporate citizen, an innovative enabler for the information society, and a collaborative contributor to the industry.”

As long as companies and governments continue to adopt this outlook and recognize the power of technology to create new opportunities, the cloud holds unrivaled potential to enrich lives and improve efficiency through a better connected world.

By David Gould

Bloomberg News