The Global Rise of Cloud Computing
Despite the rapid growth of cloud computing, the cloud still commands a small portion of overall enterprise IT spending. Estimates I've seen put the percentage between 5% and 10% of the slightly more than $2 trillion (not including telco) spent worldwide in 2014 on enterprise IT.
Yet growth projections for cloud remain healthy, and there is optimism in the air. A recent roundup of projections in Forbes paints the picture.
The Global Picture
From our studies at the Tau Institute for Global ICT studies, we believe it's a good time to be optimistic not just in North America, but throughout the world as a whole. There are bright spots in every region, with countries such as Jordan, Latvia, Morocco, and the Philippines joining better-known places where IT is playing an increasing role in economic development.
Research we've been conducting for the past several years has produced a picture of how more than 100 nations throughout the world are progressing with their overall IT infrastructure, on a relative basis. We seek to find the nations that are doing the most with the economic resources they have, and we issue several specific groups of rankings. Given robust underlying infrastructure, and reasonable socio-economic conditions, a nation should be set to benefit from the continuing growth of cloud computing.
Training & Education Are Key
An emphasis on operating expenses instead of capital expenditure, the ability to scale (and de-scale) quickly, and provisioning in almost real-time are aspects of cloud computing that can benefit entire nations as well as single organizations.
There are significant issues of data sovereignty and security entangled in distributed cloud infrastructures that cross international borders, to be sure. But inter-governmental organizations from the European Union (EU) to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to the East African Community (EAC) and many more are stocked with serious-minded people working to address and solve the political issues so that the technology may flow and improve the lives of their people.
There will be no flow without proper, specific education and training. Although SaaS and PaaS can insulate end-users as well as developers from the tricky particulars of dealing with the underlying infrastructure, there is tremendous complexity—and opportunity—involved in designing, deploying, and provisioning that infrastructure.
The opportunity lies in training the people of the world in the languages, frameworks, platforms, and architectures that form cloud computing in the whole. Training programs from as little as a couple of days to as much as several weeks must and can be implemented anywhere in the world where people seek jobs in the developing 21st-century global economy.
Governments, corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives within large technology providers, and large organizations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Clinton Global Initiative all espouse a renewed focus on education and technology. We encourage them also to support the cause of developing cloud computing equitably throughout the world. The distributed and increasingly granulated nature of cloud resources should, in theory, enable smaller, less developed nations benefit from the cloud in the same manner that smaller businesses can.
One exercise we've recently been modeling seeks to determine the ideal number of enterprise IT professionals in each of these countries. It's not enough simply to note the paucity or plethora of IT jobs in a developing nation; a better question, is how many jobs are there relative to the nation's current wealth? More important, how are these jobs growing, and how quickly is the rate of change growing?
How much opportunity is there? How many existing IT jobs are there worldwide, and how many will there be in the future?
We've studied the big picture, looking at academic research, research-company reports, and conducting our own surveys. We estimate there is one IT job for every $4 million of gross domestic product (GDP) in the US. By applying that figure to each of the nations we survey, then adjusting it for relative wealth, cost of living, and socioeconomic factors (such as income disparity, perceived corruption, and human development), we derive a benchmark figure for each of these nations. The benchmark as you can see, is based on a US benchmark.
Our research shows that the US is not as highly developed on a relative basis as we think it should be, so its middling results can thus serve as a goal for developing nations, most of which fall below the US benchmark today. We would expect most of the world's highly developed nations to exceed this ideal, as would perhaps some of the most aggressive developing nations.
Although the IT job mosaic is a complex one, a simple calculation can provide benchmarks for the number of people involved in any particular technology—whether programming languages, scripting languages, frameworks, PaaS environments, or cloud computing infrastructure.
Please Share Your Thoughts
It would be a shame if the cloud computing revolution only serves to widen the digital divide among nations. Economies and societies that are significantly driven by IT in general and cloud computing in particular will be the ones that benefit over the long term. By establishing employment benchmarks across nations, we can work to deliver the benefits of cloud computing in a global fashion.
I encourage anyone who's interested to contact me about our efforts, and to contribute their thoughts and opinions on the topics I've covered here.
(Image Source: Shutterstock)
By Roger Strukhoff