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Cloud computing may not be as talked about as Donald Trump or Brexit, but if you work in the tech world, sometimes it feels like it's all anybody ever talks about. What started off as a buzzword that nobody ever really understood, has finally been followed by real adoption in businesses of all sizes as they start to see the benefits.

Here we run down the top cloud trends for 2017, as well as the vendors to watch in this space.

Enterprise adoption

While there are some applications that businesses may never move to the cloud (data security, regulations, etc), enterprises are increasingly looking at moving more of their systems to the cloud. As data integration and security headaches ease, enterprises will start to move more "cloud-ready" systems such as sales and CRM to the public cloud. Gartner data predicts that the public cloud services market will grow 17.2 percent in 2016, which will total $208.6 billion. This figure is up from $178 billion in 2015.

Switching from one cloud vendor to another

If you've been locked in a lengthy on-premise license, you'll remember what a headache it is to change vendor. Software implementation, migrating data, training staff, and integrations - the list of complex and time-consuming considerations can seem endless. With cloud vendors, the entry barrier is lower as these systems are quicker to get up and running and generally easier and more intuitive to use (especially for the millennial generation who make up an ever-increasing portion of the workforce). For companies not used to switching software vendors, 2017 will mark a watershed, as they start to realize that it's easier with cloud solutions, and that with monthly subscription charges putting an end to expensive, lengthy licenses, cancellation and switching is easier than ever.

Better Management of Cloud Costs

As cloud adoption increases, so costs need to be more closely managed, especially if you are running a hybrid cloud environment with on-premise or private cloud solutions. Deploying cloud services from multiple vendors means that monitoring usage more closely is crucial to keeping costs down. In 2017, businesses will start to implement solutions that can provide one customizable dashboard to track all usage across multiple solutions that can scale as more software is added. These will also be able to report any issues and identify areas where costs savings can be made.

Security and Privacy Worries Continue to Dominate

Security and data privacy are two major reasons why some kinds of software are less suitable for running in the cloud than others. Data breaches in areas such as financial information and healthcare regularly make the news, but threats can also come from hacked interfaces, system vulnerabilities, compromised credentials, and malicious behavior from former employees. These concerns show no sign of abating in 2017, as according to research from IDG from late 2026, companies' top concerns regarding cloud computing are: • Where data is stored (43 percent of survey participants) • Security (41 percent of survey participants).

More Rigorous Selection Process

Because these security and privacy worries will continue to be top of mind, companies will create more strict process for selecting cloud vendors. As there are many more entrants beyond the big names such as Amazon, Salesforce, and Microsoft, getting the right solution for your business is more challenging. While pricing structures for Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) are fairly straightforward with monthly and annual subscription plans available, Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) is more complicated due to differing resource consumption of virtual machines. If these challenges seem overwhelming or threaten to take up to much of your time, Fair Pattern can help by providing you with an independent IT consultant that understands the criteria you should look for in a cloud software provider.

More New Cloud Models

SaaS, IaaS, and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) are already well known as cloud computing business models, but new cloud models will continue to emerge and gain popularity in 2017. According to IDG research, these new models will include Storage-as-a-Service, Disaster Recovery-as-a-Service and Database-as-a-Service.

Top Cloud Technology Vendors

Here we profile some of the top solutions that can help your business move to the cloud with confidence, or can help you switch to their solution if you're already running a cloud offering. These are a mix of SaaS and IaaS offerings from the top five cloud companies in terms of market share.

Salesforce Sales Cloud

As a cloud first software provider, Salesforce was a pioneer in its day, launching a software-as-a-service CRM before many people even knew what that meant. Today the company offers a wide range of cloud products including customer service, BI, marketing, and performance management. However Salesforce Sales Cloud remains its cornerstone offering. In addition to common CRM functions such as lead management, contact database, pipeline management, forecasting, email integration, and quote management, it also provides robust mobile apps, social selling functionality, a chat feature, analytics and reporting, and communities that enable you to connect with your customers, partners, and employees.

Microsoft Dynamics 365

Microsoft may have been slow to start in terms of cloud computing but, according to stats, the company will generate at least 30 percent of its annual revenue via cloud based software services by 2018. Microsoft Dynamics 365 packages up some of the company's Dynamics products (such as their Dynamics CRM and ERP offerings), with other productivity apps such as PowerApps and Flow. The individual apps that Microsoft has included in the cloud solution include Sales, Field Service, Customer Service, Project Service Automation, Marketing, Financials, and Operations.This works in a similar way to their Office 365 suite, which has expanded to include project management and collaboration and chat apps. Dynamics 365 also offers native integration with Office 365.

Google G Suite

Google G Suite is a rival to Microsoft's Office 365 in terms of offering a productivity suite in the cloud. While Microsoft dominated the office applications market for a long time, the user friendliness and price point of G Suite is persuading many users to make the switch. Google's Gmail, Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Drives tools also have the advantage of being the apps of choice for employees outside of work due to the fact that they are free, and less clunky, cumbersome and complicated than the cloud versions of Microsoft's office tools.

IBM SoftLayer

The result of an acquisition, IBM SoftLayer is a IaaS offering that combines networking, storage, application development, compute power, and security all in one package. Targeted at enterprises, it hosts different components of a company's infrastructure depending on needs. This can be both hardware and software. This service competes with the likes of Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure.

Amazon Web Services

Another IaaS offering, Amazon Web Services is the market leader in the cloud computing market. Its ever-evolving portfolio continues to grow, and now includes storage, data warehousing/analytics, cloud services, backup, content delivery and compute power. Amazon Web Services is a scalable solution that is competitively priced and you can cancel at any time, so you're not locked into a contract. You pay per use and it scales to your needs (up and down), rather than offering a fixed usage per month. It also adds extra storage space in minutes, saving you the headache of having to buy a new server for your business.

What Next?

If any of these cloud solutions catch your eye, why not get in contact with us here at Fair Pattern. We have helped some of the world's largest organizations solve their IT and cloud computing problems, with our team of experienced project managers and web developers.

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