The cloud has become a significant part of the IT environment at many organizations, as they adopt public, private and hybrid cloud strategies. Here are some of the interesting developments in the area of cloud services during the past year.

Disruptive technologies such as cloud computing—along with mobile and social media—provide an opportunity for companies to change their business models and transform industries, Deloitte’s 5th Annual Tech Trends Report noted in February.

Cloud adoption across the enterprise is a growing reality, the report said. But much of the usage is in addition to on-premises systems, not in replacement. As cloud services continue to expand, organizations are increasingly connecting cloud-to-cloud and cloud-to-core systems, Deloitte says, cobbling together discrete services for an end-to-end business process.

Cloud services are no longer a “nice-to-have” component of corporate IT, but a strategic imperative, according to research firm Ovum. Organizations that want to make their first cloud services investments will look to build business cases that encompass longer-term IT and business value, said the firm’s report, “2014 Trends to Watch: Cloud Services.” The study says vendors will need to work with customers grappling with issues related to proper management and support of hybrid cloud environments, as well as the continuing effort to leverage the connections between cloud, mobility and data/analytics.

By 2017, Web-scale IT—a pattern of computing that delivers the capabilities of large cloud service providers within an enterprise IT setting—will be an architectural approach found operating in 50% of global enterprises, Gartner Inc. noted in a report in March. That would be up from less than 10% in 2013.

Large cloud services providers such as Amazon, Google, Facebook, etc., are reinventing the way in which IT services can be delivered, said Cameron Haight, research vice president at Gartner. Their capabilities go beyond scale in terms of size to also include scale as it pertains to speed and agility, he said, and if enterprises want to keep pace they need to emulate the architectures, processes and practices of these cloud providers.

Public cloud services spending was on pace to reach $56.6 billion in 2014 and grow to more than $127 billion in 2018, according to a November forecast from International Data Corp. (IDC). That represents a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 22.8%, which is about six times the rate of growth for the overall IT market, IDC said. In 2018, public IT cloud services will account for more than half of worldwide software, server and storage spending growth, it said.

As cloud technologies mature and awareness of their benefits improves, more organizations in the United States and Europe are deploying cloud services to cut IT costs and optimize operations. U.S. companies are ahead of those in Europe in terms of cloud uptake, due to greater technology exposure and better macro-economic conditions, according to research released in June by Frost & Sullivan.

Large enterprises are embracing cloud technologies more quickly than medium and small businesses, the firm said, due to the need to optimize their larger, more complex communications infrastructure.

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