Cloud computing is exploding and growing faster than a swirling funnel crossing the Oklahoma plains. The next generation of computing lowers information technology costs while increasing corporate profits at the same time. And what's not to like about that?
That one-two punch was revealed in a study obtained by USA TODAY conducted by England's Manchester Business School. The study, which was commissioned by San Antonio-based hosting company Rackspace, is expected to be released Wednesday.
The Manchester study indicates that cloud computing allows U.S. businesses to slash information technology costs by about 26%. What's more, 62% of those same American companies say that deploying in the cloud improved their bottom lines.
"The results are finally showing what we've known all along," says Rackspace Chief Technology Officer John Engates. "It's not just about moving workloads from your data center to our data center."
The rise of cloud computing has much bigger ramifications. It's a tectonic shift in how we work, live and play. ITunes is in the cloud. Ford's cars are connected to the cloud. Google's Gmail is based in the cloud. But those are largely consumer examples; now corporate computing is also shifting to the cloud.
"The move to the cloud can't happen fast enough for some companies," says Engates, who has been on the ground floor of the cloud-computing movement.
Cloud computing has myriad definitions, but in the most general sense it means devices linked to data centers located just about anywhere over a combination of wireless and wired networks. There are "private clouds," where companies own and control the data centers, which are usually centrally located in lower-cost geographies. And then there are "public clouds," in which companies use computing power delivered from servers they don't own, which are usually shared with other corporate customers.
Big companies tend to use a combination of private and public clouds, reserving their high-security functions and digital record keeping for the data centers they control. But the growing acceptance of public clouds foreshadows a trend in which computing power will be delivered similarly to the way electricity is distributed by utility companies. In fact, tech geeks refer to the long-term public cloud concept as "utility computing."
We are a long way from when most companies no longer own servers, or operate so-called on-premise data centers, and rely solely on public clouds. There are a number of reasons, including security concerns, control and reliability. But the Manchester survey suggests that enterprise computer customers are embracing the shift enthusiastically. (continued...)
© 2013 USA TODAY under contract with MarketWatch. All rights reserved.