Head in the Cloud: Where Data Lives

By 2020, global cloud computing is expected to be a $270 billion industry, and 90 percent of companies in the U.S. say they either plan to maintain or increase their cloud computing budgets.

Cloud computing, which refers to storing and accessing data over the internet versus a local hard drive like Dropbox, Google Drive, or Apple’s iCloud, has risen to new heights, and the percentage of consumers and businesses utilizing cloud-based solutions continues to grow.

Using data combined over the last five decades, we examined the cost of hard drive storage over the years, as well as the growth of cloud-based solutions today and into the future. We also studied how cloud storage works for small businesses, how professionals prioritize their cloud-based needs, and which solutions professionals are willing to pay for.

Want to know more about how the cloud is evolving for small business needs? Check out our blog below.

More Money, Less Space

While computers in the early days might have been big enough to fill entire rooms – today, we can carry computers in our pockets. It isn’t just the size (or cost) of computers that has changed over the years. Hard drive capacities have more than doubled a few times over, in part because the cost of hard drive storage has decreased significantly since the ’80s.

Between 1985 and 1989, the cost of a gigabyte of hard drive capacity (quantified as 1,000 megabytes) cost more than $30,000. It’s hard to imagine, but in 1985, the storage capacity alone of an 8-gigabyte MP3 player would have cost over $240,000. Thankfully, that cost decreased to just under $4,500 in 1990 and is now virtually free in the 2000s. Pretty wild, right?

The Evolution of the Cloud

Cloud computing continues to rise in both functionality and popularity. While the concept may have been introduced in the ’60s, its application didn’t take full form until the late ’90s with the introduction of a business-oriented CRM solution: Salesforce.

In 2014, almost 66 percent of computing services were hosted by cloud data centers. This work can be as simple as consumer-based services like Google Docs (which was launched in 2006) or as complex as small-business solutions like Citrix services. In 2015, cloud-based computing services grew to over 71 percent of all computing services, and over 76 percent in 2016.

Based on current growth and market trends, cloud-based computing services are expected to grow beyond 80 percent and should account for roughly 87 percent of all computer processes by 2019.

Cloud Hosting: Not in the Sky After All

Want to know exactly where “the cloud” is? Use our interactive guide by entering your location and the service you use, and we’ll show you where your cloud data is likely physically hosted. From North Carolina to Quincy, Washington, the answer might surprise you.

Curious about what these data centers look like? Take the Google Data Center 360° Tour below to see for yourself.

Global Cloud Applications

Across the world, countries everywhere are using cloud-based data centers for today’s computer services. While Latin American and Asian regions have gone back and forth over the last two years over who’s using the most cloud-based data hosting, Latin American regions are projected to surge ahead over the next three years to almost 90 percent of all their computing applications.

The Middle East, as well as Central and Eastern European countries, have also maintained higher cloud-based computer usage that is expected to climb between 2016 and 2019, with peaks in the Middle East and Africa that should bring their usage up to almost 88 percent, nearly matching Asian regions.

Western regions, including North America and Western Europe, lag behind the rest of the world in their application of cloud-based technologies. North America currently has the lowest overall percentage of cloud-based computer processes, with just over 72 percent in 2016 (which is expected to reach roughly 84 percent by 2019). Despite these projections, North America is expected to have the largest population of individual internet users utilizing cloud services by 2019.

Small and Medium Sized Businesses Using the Cloud

When it comes to business, cloud-based computing, like QuickBooks cloud hosting, can expand smaller operations into global forces. By multiplying a company’s resources with minimal hands-on effort, cloud hosting services can help small businesses reach new customer demographics and increase their offerings regardless of their size.

Business owners may have different priorities than consumers when it comes to cloud services. Security is the primary concern for most small businesses. While solutions like CRMs and technology deployment services can help streamline or even evolve standard processes for business customers, these solutions may end up housing very sensitive customer or vendor data that makes security a top priority. Performance and available data space outranked ease of use and cost, suggesting that where business is concerned, the potential for productivity and functionality of cloud solutions outweighs the effects of cost. Mobility and brand reputation were also key concerns for small businesses

So, it’s important to keep these factors in mind when you’re choosing a new cloud hosting provider – what extra security measures are they taking? Do they offer a secure sign-on solution, such as 2 factor authentication? Do their services allow you to safely access your software from anywhere?

The Need for Computer Speed

The number of transistors on a microprocessor, which helps influence how quickly a computer can execute commands by creating logical gates for data to pass between, has changed dramatically since 1971. In fact, in the mid-1960s, Intel co-founder Gordon Moore theorized that processing speeds would double every two years as technology became more affordable and thus more accessible. Moore’s Law, as it became known around 1970, actually refers to the number of transistors on an affordable CPU, which, in turn, increases the computer’s processing capacity.

Source: http://www.intel.com/pressroom/kits/events/moores_law_40th/ index.htm?iid=tech_mooreslaw+body_presskit

In 1971, the Intel 4004 microprocessor had 2,300 transistors on it. In 1972, the Intel 8008 increased its number of transistors to 3,300. In 1991, the average processor had more than 1.3 million transistors embedded in it, and by 2001, that number increased to 45 million. In 2016, the Apple A10 processor (found inside its new iPhone 7 and 7 Plus) has over 3.3 billion transistors carrying data to execute commands.

The Cost of Moving to the Cloud

When it comes to cloud small business solutions, not every product on the market has a price tag on it – but that hasn’t kept business professionals from opting to pay. In regards to backup or archived files, 57 percent of respondents said they were utilizing free services. From first-party solutions, like Apple’s iCloud or Google Drive, to third-party products, business users and consumers alike have the opportunity to take advantage of free cloud storage solutions. However, 66 percent of respondents acknowledged they prefer a backup system they paid for because it’s more trustworthy.

In fact, for every business solution we inquired about, businesses acknowledged using paid solutions over free ones. From financial records to medical data, amenities like increased functionality and customer support make paying for cloud service solutions worth the money for these business owners.

The Cloud and You

From simple solutions, like backup and data synchronization, to complex offers, like CRM solutions to server and application hosting, the cloud is changing the way we use computers. Today, anywhere from 60 to 70 percent of all computer functions are hosted by cloud-based solutions. Over the next few years, that number could rise in some regions to nearly 90 percent or more.

Understanding what the cloud can do for your business can mean reducing IT costs and increasing productivity. At Summit Hosting, we’re changing the way small- and medium-sized businesses access data all around the world. As industry leaders in QuickBooks cloud hosting, Sage cloud hosting and Citrix virtualization, you and your company can trust Summit Hosting with your virtual business data and application delivery 24/7/365 – regardless of when you need us, our U.S.-based support team members are there for you. Contact us today to learn how Summit Hosting can help manage your business through cloud-based software solutions.

Methodology

We collected survey results from Clutch.co, transistor and computing costs data from ourworldindata.org, intel, mkomo.com, and jcmit.com. All cloud computing locations were found at datacenters.com. Additional data compiled from sources listed below.

Sources