Why 2015 will be the year that the cloud comes of age

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It has been reported that by 2018, the global market for cloud equipment will reach $79.1 billion. Having burst onto the tech scene in 2006, the “cloud” — as IT leaders, programmers, and marketers know it today — is almost a decade old. From Google Docs to Dropbox, Web-connected humans are glued to the cloud every minute, of every day.

Take a step back, however, to ask yourself what the cloud is, where it is, and what it does. Now, try to condense those thoughts into a short sentence.  The closest that you might come to a definition is the following explanation from TechTarget:

“Cloud computing enables companies to consume competing resources as a utility — just like electricity — rather than having to build and maintain computing infrastructures in-house.”

As TechTarget elaborates, cloud computing touches upon the following three areas:

  • Self-service provisioning, in which end users can control and customize workloads on demand.
  • Elasticity, which means that users can scale their computing needs to demand.
  • Pay per use, in which users measure and pay for the resources that they’re using.

The short story? The cloud is a lot of things to a lot of different types of companies and consumers. What 2015 means is that the tech community has exceeded a decade of research, development, and innovation. Here are three important ways that the cloud is helping companies evolve.

1 – The cloud levels the playing field between enterprise giants and small ventures

mobile security laptop fingerprint 520x315 Why 2015 will be the year that the cloud comes of age

Not so long ago, the highest performing technology assets were limited to large, complex organizations. With the level of risk and investment involved in adopting new hardware, few organizations could boast access to fast and infinitely scalable computing power.

“Before the cloud, companies implemented new software and technology in a relatively traditional way through structured, company-wide deployments,” explains John Brennan, head of business development at international communications firm BT.

What the cloud brings to the table is versatility that allows end users to invest in the exact resources that they need — no more and no less. Companies can switch over to lightweight, cloud-based deployments that require little in the way of on-premise configuration and management.

“There’s much less investment and risk required to adopt and use new technology, and service agreements can be adapted to a company’s size through flexible pricing models, which has given all companies equal access to the latest and tools and capabilities,” says Brennan.

One of the most basic examples of this idea is cloud hosting provider Amazon Web Services (AWS) — a resource used by companies ranging from bootstrapped solopreneur ventures to fast growing startups and the largest organizations in the world. It’s cost effective for every type of user to access the same basic technology.

2 – The cloud simplifies information exchanges

rain cloud gloomy 520x316 Why 2015 will be the year that the cloud comes of age

Today’s top technologies — and human-to-human communications protocols — are dependent on APIs. Thanks to very simple programming, applications can connect to support the swift and efficient flow of information ranging from product SKUs to media buys, CRM data, and credit card transaction details.

“Cloud based APIs and microservices simplify information exchange,” says Chris Hoover, global vice president of product and marketing strategy at Perforce Software. “It lowers the barrier for new vendors to enter the market.”

The result, according to Hoover, is a trend in which enterprise companies are moving away from a ‘top down’ approach to software and information exchanges. More than ever before, individual departments, teams, and employees have the ability to choose their own software. This versatility will place increased pressure on organizations to become more innovative — and exchange information faster.

“A lower barrier to entry for enterprise software means increased competitive pressure,” says Hoover. “Expectations for faster release cycles mean that development within enterprise software vendors must accelerate, which leads to implications for new processes and automation.”

3 – The cloud allows higher levels of support

CloudDrive 520x199 Why 2015 will be the year that the cloud comes of age

Applications of the cloud are seemingly limitless. Companies have ultimate flexibility to add and remove resources as needed.

“Previously when you bought a server, you were trapped within that box,” explains Dustin Bolander, vice president of technology at IT firm Technology Pointe.

“If the company needed less resources long term, you still had to commit to that capital cost. If you needed more long term solutions, you were stuck making large purchases for more servers. Cloud lets you right size things on a monthly — or shorter — basis.”

This flexibility yields higher demands for customization — which will, in turn, create a need for higher end support packages.

“We are seeing a lot of companies dissatisfied with the level of support offered by many infrastructure as a service (IaaS) providers,” says Bolander.

What’s important to keep in mind, according to Bolander, is that the tech community isn’t looking at the cloud from a cost-savings perspective anymore. Rather, the cloud has evolved into a tactical advantage for businesses looking to scale strategically.

Managed system operations (SysOps) services will include areas of performance monitoring, security audits, system backups, and resource optimization. Rather than managing these initiatives in-house, business of all sizes will be better positioned to focus on their core strengths instead of distracting maintenance operations.

“Multiple support tiers will become the norm,” says Bolander.

Final thoughts

The cloud has created a story that is ‘to be continued,’ with 2015 being a critical year for technologies to mature.  As companies grow accustomed to flexible, scalable infrastructure — and competition for faster, better services increases — the need for stronger support will grow stronger too. Meanwhile, the tech community will figure it all out together.

(Source The Next Web)

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This is Google’s new Chromebook Pixel

A familiar design comes with even more power and better battery life

After inadvertently teasing the existence of a new Chromebook Pixel last month, Google is today coming clean and announcing the new laptop. The new Chromebook Pixel has asimilar boxy design as its predecessor(including the fancy light-up strip on the lid), but it has upgraded internals, better battery life, and a new price tag. That new price tag is still steep — at $999, it’s by far still the most expensive Chromebook you can buy — but it’s a few hundred dollars less than the Pixel was two years ago. If you really feel the need to splurge, Google is also offering an “LS” (which, yes, stands for Ludicrous Speed) version for $300 more that has even higher-end components.

The standard Chromebook Pixel is no slouch, however. It has a new Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and 32GB of storage. The LS model steps that up to a faster Core i7 chip, 16GB of RAM, and a 64GB SSD. If the LS model didn’t exist, the regular Pixel would easily be the most powerful Chromebook ever made. The original Pixel’s namesake 3:2, 2560 x 1700 pixel touchscreen display remains largely unchanged in the new model, though Google says it has a wider color gamut than before. Oddly, Google doesn’t seem to be offering an LTE version this go around, or at least it’s not talking about it today if it’s planning to.

New Google Chromebook Pixel images

The original Pixel was a fantastic machine save for its middling battery life, but Google says the new model will last for up to 12 hours between charges. Google also says you can get two hours of use from just 15 minutes of charging. The other major new feature is the inclusion of two USB-C ports, which can be used to charge the laptop, transfer data, or connect to an external monitor or TV. You can even recharge the Pixel’s battery with a USB battery through the new ports. Unlike Apple’s new MacBook, however, the two traditional USB ports are still present (now they are USB 3.0), as is a full-size SD card reader and standard headphone jacks. The only thing omitted is a full-size HDMI port, though Google says you can just use an adapter with one of the new USB-C ports to accomplish the same purpose.

Other improvements include a stiffer hinge for less “bounce” when you use the touchscreen, an improved trackpad and keyboard, and a wider-angle camera. Google also says it’s cleaned up the design of the Pixel to hide any visible speaker grilles, fan vents, or screws. If you’re paying nearly a thousand dollars for a machine that does little more than browse the web, that extra attention to detail is appreciated.

TWO USB-C PORTS HANDLE CHARGING, VIDEO OUT, AND MOREBoth versions of the new Chromebook Pixel are available to purchase starting today from Google’s new web store, store.google.com. For more thoughts, impressions, and overall feels on the new Pixel, be sure to check out our full review.