There is a very old expression, Fish where the Fish are. The idea suggests searching for things in areas with the highest concentration of what you want. Do you want a job in Cloud Computing? Explore the industries with expanding cloud investment.
Every day, we hear and read about the most recent and cool cloud use cases. As developers and IT people, we understand, practice, and apply the referenced technical implementations and sometimes wonder, “What are the industries doing these kinds of cool implementations?”
If we understand what kind of industries are currently moving into the public cloud (investing in cloud investments), we may be the ones who are, in fact, creating those cool use cases. We could be the ones building cloud business. We could find advancement in our current roles, or upgrade and translate our skill sets to other companies and industries. What should we know, and how shall we gain that information?
At the same time cloud services are bringing more abstraction, by reducing the complexity of such implementations, we, as DevOps professionals, are accumulating more and more high-level roles. This elevation requires good DevOps pros to work more closely with stakeholders and understand business requirements better in order to best solve for them. I suggest that it is fundamentally important for us to understand which industries are currently moving into the cloud, and why.
Startups should be segmented into several different industries. For about the last five years, startups are the companies most commonly pioneering the use of the Public Cloud for businesses (there are some notable others pioneering industries I’ll discuss further down in this post). They are making cloud investments instead of spending on hardware.
Startups jumped into the public cloud for 4 main reasons:
- They are starting from scratch:
- These companies don’t need to worry about any kind of workplace or infrastructure transformations. The pull of legacy thinking and hardware is absent. Many startup founders were born into a different technology generation and paradigm. It’s like the way children seem to just “get” smartphones.
- Low upfront investments:
- No one can say that starting in the cloud is a zero-cost endeavor, because everything costs. Think of initial consulting to know what and how you will use cloud services etc. However, in comparison to on-premises infrastructure, Cloud doesn’t require hardware, physical space, redundancy, power, cooling, or people to take care of the infrastructure. The savings are immediate and substantial.
- Workplace abstraction:
- Startups are known for innovative ideas and agility in execution. For these companies, IT is commonly treated the same as the other vital, but abstracted, services, such as energy, gas, public transportation, heating, water, etc.
- They are often virtual companies:
- Typically, a start up’s greatest assets are their ideas & skills, which don’t require big physical plants like manufacturing industries. Startups can sell services or consumer products, which will likely have their production outsourced. For these reasons, startups have, in theory, nothing to stop them from going to a cloud-first approach.
An IDG study shows exactly this. The main reasons companies are investing in Cloud is the speed of deployment and Lower total cost of ownership:
Startups are, in fact, such a huge market for the main Cloud providers that most of them have specific offerings for this niche:
- Startups and Amazon Web Services
- Google Cloud Platform for Startups
- At Rackspace, a love for startups is part of our DNA
Information Technology / Web Services
Along with Startups, the technology industry is heavily investing in the Public Cloud. The reasons are many in this case. Web and IT companies find transitioning to the cloud easier because they deliver IT services and/or software development themselves. They embrace tech opportunity without fearing change–mostly.
This means these industries understand where computing technology is heading and more informed decisions based on emerging data.
I see two critical reasons why web and IT organizations are moving workloads to the Cloud now:
- In-house knowledge:
- Software and IT services companies have internal resources who can quickly make decisions regarding how and what to use on Cloud for optimal efficiency and cost saving.
- Some web and IT companies deliver content and services to hundreds of thousands of users at simultaneously. Cloud computing makes this possible and effective in performance and cost.
What’s more, distributed teams, home offices, and mobile apps are not the future. They are the present, and these industries rely on the cloud to supply content and service through multi-platforms and devices requiring extremely high reliability.
Engineering / Science / Health
This loose category of companies is mostly moving to the cloud for one reason: computing power. These industries deal with evolving and highly complex challenges that the require ever-increasing computational resources. Building a super, in-house data center to process disease analysis, DNA, weather forecasts or space exploration is not their core competency. Running an expanding (or contracting) datacenter would ultimately distract from solving meaningful problems. They typically possess substantial financial resources, and their go-to solution is greater cloud investment.
The hundreds of data centers deployed in distributed computing offer almost unlimited power to the growing STEM community.
Retail / Manufacturing
Retail companies offer service 24/7, and IaaS is, so far, the best answer for their needs, largely due to scalability. Another reason they appreciate Cloud computing is the high volume of transactions these companies generate. Tracking these exchanges requires fast (almost real-time) reporting and high-level analytics data.
Retail and manufacturing face heavy and constant competition for market-share. Those who can harness near real-time information for analytics have superior business intelligence and a genuine competitive advantage.
Cloud computing offers truly disposable resources. This means that without much effort, entire workspaces for new product/service development may be created in a matter of hours. They may also be disposed of as soon as the critical need, such as research, is completed. Cloud investment is elastic and agile for a consumer-reactive industry.
Industries with knowledge workers
Actually, in a sense, everyone is a knowledge worker. However, if we follow the original meaning, a knowledge worker is someone who manages or uses information to generate results. One great example might be consulting companies.
Most consulting companies don’t deliver concrete products, and often not even a tangible service. Instead, they assist other companies in finding meaningful solutions to a multitude of thorny problems. These companies generate use cases and demands for the public cloud, and now, more specifically, on SaaS.
Social collaboration platforms such as Jive, Mango Apps, Office 365, IBM Cloud, Slack, HipChat, Google Docs, and so many others are growing exponentially.
The above platforms share basic structures. Collaboration platforms are scalable, mobile and abstract all the low-level kind of operational activities.
According to Gartner, this is the industries’ adoption of cloud back in 2012, and it is noticeable that SaaS is a winner. It is possible to see which direction the cloud market started going to 4 years ago. I think we can also see the potential impact this direction will have on I.T. roles.
When companies move workloads to the cloud, be it as SaaS, IaaS or PaaS, the paradigm shifts in the I.T. professionals work.
Internal I.T. departments are investing fewer resources in technology and infrastructure. They are spending more time and money on projects that solve for business needs, such as legal regulations and security. Much of the traditional technical work is being slowly delegated to 3rd parties — who are themselves technical specialists in cloud services.
Another study, made by The Economist, and sponsored by VMWARE, looks at 5 industries adopting cloud: Banking, Retail, Manufacturing, Education and Health Care.
By looking at this picture, you might have 2 different reactions:
- Pessimistic: We are in 2016 and these are the numbers? That’s not good.
- Optimistic: Wow, there are hundreds of thousands of workloads out there just waiting for us to move or adapt them to Cloud. That’s exciting!
After 10 years of proven cloud success for businesses, the question is no longer a matter of “If “moving workloads to the cloud makes sense, but When, How, Where, and most importantly, Who will do it for them. The cloud services industry is growing exponentially and the number of cloud experts in the market is not. Be aware of that. Follow the money and cloud investment.
Cloud computing is growing faster than most people can imagine. Google is planning 12 new cloud data centers in the next 18 months, and it is widely agreed that this is just in the beginning of the cloud revolution. The first adopters are making improvements and finding new methods for further super-charging cloud computing. They have largely written great success stories with a few painful exceptions.
Every new technology and paradigm must have its first adopters (some of them being even sponsored at first), who will entice the second level of adopters, and I contend that the second generation of users are the real adoption drivers because they are typically more cautious. Once this generation of Cloud users is satisfied, the digital transformation momentum will exceed all of our expectations and achieve innovations on par with what the internet and mobile communications have done.
Do yourself a favor and investigate cloud computing. Cloud Academy offers a free 7-day trial. With this trial, you can access a live cloud environment, courses, labs, and quizzes. There are also a variety of learning paths that offer a clear direction to an improved and in-demand skill set. Cloud investment, personal investment, and following the money are my takeaways for you today.