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Cloud computing has reached a new stage

Cloud computing has, in just a few short years, evolved from new, cutting-edge technology to a common, widely available and essential solution for organizations of all kinds.

Now, cloud computing has entered a new phase, according to James Staten of Forrester Research. Writing for ZDNet, Staten asserted that the technology is moving from an exploratory to an integral stage, as businesses now see the cloud as a key part of the greater IT landscape.

Cloud evolution
Staten noted that Forrester predicts the public cloud services market to reach $191 billion in 2020, up from $58 billion in 2013. Such an increase suggests a significant shift in terms of what cloud computing can accomplish and how it is viewed by companies around the world.

Among the most significant changes occurring in this area, according to Staten, is that firms are now looking to Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions in order to replace existing systems, rather than to add functionality. Among the software likely to be replaced by SaaS in the near future are human resource management tools, sales force automation, customer relationship management and more.

By 2020, public cloud platforms will effectively match legacy infrastructure solutions in terms of financial feasibility, maturity and capabilities when it comes to enterprise applications, Staten asserted. The same is also true when it comes to traditional middleware for systems of engagement, he added.

"As these services are consumable by-the-drink, they free organizations from the traditional licensing constraints that are misfits with elastic or transient applications," Staten wrote. "They are also managed and enhanced by vendors as often as daily delivering new capabilities that can help a company maintain pace with the changing desires of an empowered customer base."

Time is of the essence
As Staten made clear, the second stage of cloud computing will largely be defined by extreme growth and expansion. While it has not reached universal adoption yet, it is well on its way toward this point. Eventually, cloud computing will be seen as just as integral to businesses as the Internet.

One consequence of this trend is that businesses that do not currently leverage the cloud will face exponentially increasing pressure to deploy the technology. The longer a firm waits to embrace these solutions, the more difficult it will be to keep pace with industrial rivals. Decision-makers at these organizations should therefore see the adoption of cloud computing as a priority.

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