IT Shifts to the Cloud


The IT industry is accustomed to change, but can the monolith of IT server infrastructure keep pace with the increasing demand for “cloud-based solutions?” Around the world, IT companies constantly promote the advantages of cloud-based infrastructure over traditional, clunky, expensive servers.

But how is this happening, and what does it mean for the future of information technology professionals? This article explores the developments in the IT world and examines the changing landscape.

Spending on Data Centers Has Been Overtaken

Overall spending on conventional data center services compared to cloud systems has changed dramatically over the past decade. For comparison:

  • In 2011, around $81 billion was spent on data centers compared to $6.5 billion on cloud services
  • By 2016, spending had dropped to $78.5 billion on data centers, while cloud spending had grown to $32 billion
  • In 2019, cloud spending overtook data center investment for the first time ($96 billion to $93.3 billion)
  • In 2020, conventional data center investment dropped while cloud spending massively increased to $129.5 billion
  • 2021 saw cloud server spending rising to $178 billion while data center investment only slightly increased to $98.05 billion

Investment in cloud-based servers is now nearly double what is spent on data centers. Just 10 years ago, conventional solutions received over 10x more funding.

While nearly $100 billion is still spent on conventional servers annually, investors clearly see cloud-based systems as the future. Armed with the argument that traditional centers are bad for the environment and far less flexible for consumers, cloud advocates are winning the war for IT infrastructure’s future.

Cloud-Based Operations Increase Competitiveness

The companies and startups at the cutting edge of digital commerce are virtually all enthusiastic adopters of cloud-based systems. Emerging companies prioritize scalability and flexible digital architecture highly – the hefty cost of hiring a dedicated data center puts new businesses off.

They don’t need all that firepower all the time. Emerging, disruptive businesses want optimal capacity when it suits their needs. The most competitive businesses embrace new solutions before they hit the mainstream.

Small Businesses Can Now Afford Cloud-Based Systems

Away from the glitzy world of digital disrupters, small businesses are increasingly finding that cloud-based servers are more affordable, useful, and responsive than traditional data center packages. The cloud isn’t as mysterious, expensive, and hard to buy into as it used to be.

Cloud solutions for small businesses often come tied up in an attractive package with other digital services – it’s an easy sell for a business that want to focus on its core product rather than its digital literacy.

Cloud servers offer great scalability, which is incredibly important for small businesses. Paying less during downtime allows valuable savings that could be invested into their next PPC campaign or building site authority. Setting a budget for digital growth is difficult, and companies offering cloud solutions frequently offer audits to help business owners cut costs wherever possible. For a price, of course!

The Dangers of “Cloudwashing”

For all the benefits cloud computing brings, it’s easy to seize on as a marketing term that swiftly becomes meaningless. Even the term “cloud solutions” is nebulous – delve into the actual services a company offers, and it transpires only a small portion has anything to do with cloud computing. The rest is often just general digital marketing services.

Anything sounds fresh and exciting when it’s linked to the cloud. Business owners and non-expert users should be wary of buying into products or services that may have been “cloudwashed” – it’s always worth asking, “Can you put that in plain English, please?” Cut to the chase.

Final Thoughts

IT infrastructure is expanding, but don’t expect to see ghost towns of data centers anytime soon. IT development moves rapidly, but the industry at large is more conservative than many think. The cloud is here to stay, but industry professionals are still testing whether it’s safe to stand on. 

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