The Cloud Is Boring: That’s Where Its Value Lies

The Cloud Is Boring: That’s Where Its Value Lies: The cloud will become less exciting as time passes — eventually becoming as uninteresting as the system that brings water to faucets and electricity to outlets.

Cloud resources are becoming commoditized. A vicious price war between leading infrastructure-as-a-service providers is pushing the cost of compute and storage resources ever lower. That’s great news for startups and established enterprises that rely on low-cost cloud infrastructure to build a viable business model, but it may appear that it’s not so great for cloud vendors themselves.

It’s been an exciting time. The cloud sector has been fascinating to follow for the last few years, but it won’t stay that way forever.

Value is moving up the stack from infrastructure providers to app developers and those who use cloud platforms to build functionality that serves specific needs. When we look at where the money is going, we see creators of apps, games, and services reaping huge rewards. Venture capital flows towards the next big idea — by comparison, cloud vendors are beginning to look boring.

They are boring in same way that utility companies are boring. Boring in the way a safe bet is boring, because whatever happens to the online economy in the future, you can be absolutely sure that the cloud will be the foundational layer on which it’s built.

When we think of where technology is headed in the next few years: the Internet of Things, mobile, wearables, biotech, the common thread is that each is going to require flexible, elastic infrastructure. The IoT and wearables will depend on the cloud for the same reason that mobile does, for syncing, storage, processing, and analysis. Modern biotechnology, particularly genomics and bioinformatics, need massive amounts of storage and processing power to analyze huge datasets — the cloud will be an essential component of the flourishing biotech startup industry, which is where the big bucks will flow over the next couple of decades. Big data will become an ever bigger deal with each of these advances — it depends absolutely on the cloud.

If you can think of a growth area in the present and the immediate future, it’s likely that it will be using the cloud.

Although value is moving up the stack towards the applications that run on the cloud, cloud vendors are going to get a slice of every pie — that’s not super interesting, but it is great business.

The foundational infrastructure of modern technology should be boring. It should be predictable. Like electricity, it should flow and it should be cheap and no-one should have to care about how they get their compute and storage.

That’s the essential value of the cloud. After the price war settles down and the market matures, the cloud will become as uninteresting as any utility, but utterly indispensable.

Will Hayles is a technical writer and blogger for Outscale, a leading cloud hosting provider in the USA and France.


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