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A cloud of confidence

A cloud of confidence 

Such was one of the main themes discussed at the Toronto stop on the iTech Canadian conference national tour. Several hundred attendees from the Greater Toronto Area flocked to The International Centre in Mississauga to gain new insight into cloud technology and advancements in mobility.

The event opened with a keynote address delivered by Jean Cheng, solutions executive for Microsoft Canada’s Public Sector Cloud Programs. Cheng emphasized the fact that moving to the cloud is a must, especially for the public sector. But in order for that work, there needs to be a shared sense of confidence in the cloud and its abilities. The key to that can be found by examining four megatrends within the industry.

“To get the answer to that, we have to look at the four megatrends that are shaping technology today,” Cheng said. “Those megatrends are cloud, mobility, social and Big Data. Collectively, these megatrends provide the underpinnings of a huge wave of disruption within the marketplace.”

Profound changes are almost a constant within this industry, and “they are often as much about changing economics as they are about technology,” said Cheng. “While each one of these different trends on their own has profound implications on technologies, it’s the recombination and intersection of these megatrends that’s giving rise to even more markets and capabilities.”

Of the four megatrends identified by Cheng, cloud has the potential to make the biggest splash overall because of its interactive abilities.

“Regardless of the scenario, cloud is always the key component. Of all the megatrends that are in action today, cloud is the one that contributes the greatest amount in terms of scale for the market,” he said.

“Cloud, more than all of the others, plays a particularly disruptive role, not just on its own, but also because it interacts with the other megatrends.”

When it was originally introduced in the early 2000s, many people were skeptical about the cloud’s functions, and swiftly rejected it as a result. As it became more comprehensive, the adopters came in droves. But it didn’t happen overnight. It can sometimes take years to build consumer confidence in new forms of technology, and only recently did enterprises start to join the cloud revolution.

“Today’s developers and integrated software vendors have absolute confidence in the cloud platforms that they rely on to create the next generation of applications and monitored services,” said Cheng. “Otherwise, entire markets could have their entire foundations taken out from underneath them.”

Despite widespread adoption, there is still one major issue that cloud computing is dogged by, and it literally starts at the top of the corporate ladder. Cheng revealed that the results of a NorthStar survey of approximately 500 Canadian C-suite executives showed that only one in 10 were familiar with the cloud.

“While we may know what it is, C-suite executives may not be as up to speed as the rest of us,” he said. “In fact, 45 per cent said that they didn’t know what cloud was at all.”

Cheng added that the minority of executives who did understand cloud showed apprehension towards it, and would not consider integrating it into their daily workplace functions.

As startling as those statistics may sound, there is some light at the end of the tunnel. As Cheng explains, since others have managed to figure out how the cloud works and use it to their advantage, there is certainly hope for C-suite executives to be able to replicate that feat. The more they know about it, the more likely they will be to adopt it.

“This is an important starting point or observation because in our experience, it never hurts to have an executive sponsor for a cloud initiative,” said Cheng.

In 15 years, cloud has come a long way from being considered as a fringe technology to breaking through to the mainstream. It’s expected that as confidence grows, the number of adopters will grow alongside the wave of confidence.

“We’re headed into a brave new world, and it’s really important that the underpinnings of all of the technologies that we’re investing in don’t have their legs cut off from underneath them,” Cheng concluded.

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