Brian Bloom is a staff writer at ComputerWorld Canada. You can find him on Google+. He covers enterprise hardware and software, information architecture and security topics.
Cloud computing will create almost 14 million jobs around the world — including more than 70,000 in Canada — by 2015, according to an IDC report commissioned by Microsoft Corp.
The research company reported that IT departments are spending around three-quarters of their budgets just keeping their infrastructure up and running. But John Weigelt, national technology officer at Microsoft Canada Inc., says the move to the cloud will give Canadian companies, from startups to large enterprises, the business “agility” they need to focus on their mandate with less strain on their IT budgets.
“I don’t have to wait to buy hardware. I don’t have to wait to provision my applications. I can simply, almost at the flip of a switch, turn that capacity on and make use of that service,” he says.
Like almost all IT suppliers, Microsoft has a cloud strategy for its products.
The technology behind cloud computing is becoming increasingly sophisticated, Weigelt said in a briefing for IT World Canada reporters on the report, but cloud services should be seen more as freeing people from the burdens technology places on them rather than as adding more complexity into our lives.
“A lot of times, we focus only on the technology,” he says, “but really it transforms how we see business as happening … how business manages their compute resources.”
Many people aren’t even particularly familiar with what “cloud” truly means, yet they constantly enjoy the benefits it provides, adds Weigelt. “We use the cloud all the time and we don’t see it in our day-to-day lives. It’s become really transparent to us.”
On a global scale, the move to the cloud is a major economic transformation, he says, which goes “much beyond just technology, across industries and across businesses.”
Some businesses, like new startups, are often inclined to jump right in. By contrast, larger, more established enterprises such as financial institutions and government departments, are more cautious about migrating their legacy systems to a cloud platform.
But Weigelt says this one of the great opportunities cloud computing provides: using only the right tools for the right job.
“It’s not an all-or-nothing conversation,” he says. Banks, for example, could keep their backend workhorses — mainframes — while incorporating other parts of their infrastructure into a private cloud, he says.
Innovation in cloud computing also makes Canada more competitive, he adds, giving Canadian companies “not only that reach across Canada but also, I would argue, that global reach.”