Heads in the cloud

Cloud computing has become a dominant buzzword, and yet people ask, “Is it really that special?”

The cloud is nothing new. SaaS companies such as Salesforce.com and NetSuite have been offering software down wires for over a decade.

But a major difference has now developed: finally there is some real confidence in the cloud. In recent weeks, analyst house Gartner predicted that the global cloud market will grow a staggering 20 per cent this year to nearly $110 billion.

Even Oracle chief executive Larry Ellison – also known as the owner of MIG fighter aircraft, and for his cameo in Iron Man 2 – has done a U-turn in his official Oracle line. While in 2009 he described SaaS as a “fad”, he has just been on tour telling everyone how brilliant Oracle’s own cloud offering is. Interestingly, he is also a major founding financier in Netsuite.

Microsoft and SAP have equally been pushing their cloud services.

Meanwhile, the British government’s own CloudStore has just signed its first departmental deal, for HM Revenue & Customs to use G-Cloud services, theoretically saving over £1 million in annual running costs. This is a landmark contract.

The old customer concerns, about cloud computing not being secure or even as cheap as promised, seem a bit old-hat. Nevertheless, risks remain and IT departments are somewhat rightly anxious about managers installing their own cloud services. How businesses adapt will be a deciding factor in their technological success.