Over the last decade or so, the value-added potential of cloud computing helped it change from being a novel idea to becoming a competitive must-have for organizations all around the world.
Yet in more recent years, push factors such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the move toward the user-focused Web3 internet, rising concerns about data privacy and security, and the rise of new technologies such as AI and blockchain have all made businesses more receptive to retooling the siloed nature of the business operations they used in the past.
For many businesses today, from family-owned to multinational corporations, a widespread of native digital options that assist with operations have helped introduce organizations to the rapid digitalization of the modern business world.
On the consumer front, similar digital products now exist on a more commercial scale. As of mid-2022, more than five billion consumers worldwide access and use the internet each day. From running errands, and scheduling meetings, to making business deals and conducting financial transactions; technology has rapidly digitized the way we think, work, and operate on a day-to-day basis.
At the turn of the century, the wide-scale introduction of computers, mobile phones, and the internet - on commercial levels - allowed consumers to be more connected, and businesses expanded their marketplace influence at stratospheric rates.
Cloud-Based Computing At The Forefront Of Modernization
Speaking on the revolutionary expansion of cloud-computing, Tom Keane, a former Microsoft executive, and head of Azure development, Microsoft’s native cloud-based software, shared his industry perspective and how cloud-computing is becoming an industrial gamechanger globally.
“Building a new product that came with a new technology paradigm, a new business model and new challenges meant the industry had to rethink its positioning in terms of long-term adoption. Bringing such advanced software to the market at the time meant that we had new customers using a platform that few have done before. This was all new to us at Microsoft, and the industry as a whole,” he shared with us.
As part of his career at Microsoft, Keane was a leader on the Office 365 team, the first-ever commercial cloud offering by Microsoft. What started as a small project soon exploded, and today Office 365 controls around half of the office productivity, and 70% of organizations utilize Microsoft Azure for native cloud-based services.
Today, the software supports countless corporations and users and hosts and manages data that generates up to 85% of global GDP. The platform operates from over 300 data centers in 65 regions and 34 countries.
During the early stages, the team behind this new found technology worked with numerous governments, regulators, oversight committees, and corporations to make sure that Azure either met or exceeded the data privacy, residency, and compliance expectations and requirements of its customers.
The foundational discoveries of this software led to a shift in cloud-based technology, which was first a challenging concept to sell to businesses, schools, consumers, and corporate powerhouses.
Now it’s possible for companies and individuals to host online meetings and video calls, while schools and universities can now become virtual educational institutions. All of these capabilities now exist within a single domain that has quickly caught on to become a revolutionary tale of the global marketplace.
The end goal is to ensure that the most critical and complex, and regulated workloads can be hosted on a single cloud-based system. This would enable companies to store crucial information, and safeguard customer data against any potential cyber threats.
Regardless of how we interact with this technology, whether it’s through smartphones or via virtual calls; these discoveries have provided individuals with a solution to a near missable problem.
Once developers were able to understand the consumer, the concerns, and the pain points, it was easy for them to have a successful rollout of new and improved cloud-computer products and services that are built on traditional models.
The Foundation Of Ongoing Development
Early cloud-computing software programs were built on a foundation of security and privacy. The team at Microsoft were committed to the highest levels of not just trust and transparency but conformance standards and regulatory compliance while rolling out Azure.
These types of platforms use unique intelligence to detect threats early and extract actionable insights by analyzing vast data sources, which include hundreds and billions of Bing web pages, emails, Windows device updates, and monthly authentications combined.
The need for new software was to be forward-thinking in its application, and provide solitary updates as rollouts continued. The rapid expansion of cloud technology in the developed world and internet services in developing regions provided developers an opportunity to intricate a combination of machine learning, behavioral analytics, and AI to do all of this in real-time to help better understand consumer needs.
Software products and services such as social media, eCommerce, Youtube handles, online trading, and financial technology, that accesses users' private and personal information required enhanced security measures for improved user experience.
Over time, as demand for more advanced systems started growing, built-in security controls became a non-negotiable, and standard practice across the industry. These efforts would make managing personal data, user identity, and networking devices on computers and smartphones more secure.
“When you look at the numbers within the scope of the marketplace, you see that 95% of Fortune 500 companies today make use of Azure,” he said. The popularity of cloud computing has become a staple for multinational firms that operate across several regions and employ thousands of people around the world.
There are few – if any – industrial needs that cloud computing does not or cannot cater to, a long and extensive list of services provided is a testament to the importance and benefits of cloud-based services today.
For example, in the areas of application development and AI, can be used for development and testing, which helps users simplify and accelerate development and testing across any platform. It can also be used for DevOps, which brings people, processes, and products together to deliver value.
For eCommerce, cloud computing can be used to give clients whatever they want with personalized, scalable, and secure shopping experiences, and it also powers low-code application development and microservice applications that can help users create functional and reliable applications at scale and low cost so that they can bring them to market faster.
This software can also power mobile app development, managed server services, data modernization initiatives, AI for mission-critical solutions that can analyze images, understand speech, and make data-backed predictions, as well as data mining, confidential computing, and a wide array of cloud migration testing.
“Companies are required to take a product-led growth approach with this technology, working very closely with their largest customers. You would often see both developers and leaders in the engineering team working directly with customers.”
Back in 2012, Keane was part of the regulatory compliance program which helped launch cloud computing for financial services which only became widespread in the better half of 2014. A few years after that, in 2017, he worked on a project that built a cyst for business lines for gaming, retail, media, entertainment, health, life science, and consumer goods.
From sharing and storing critical information to space flight and low-orbit satellite connectivity, cloud computing is now arching toward new frontiers of industry applications. At the start of 2020, Azure Space was launched which helped parent company Microsoft with satellite communication that can be offered to businesses and users.
With a focus on helping users irrespective of industrial use case, business size, or specific use case, cloud computing has offerings for every industry and line of business.
The financial services can be used to personalize customer experiences, modernize legacy financial systems, and optimize risk management, while government applications can be used to facilitate remote access and cross-agency collaboration while ensuring the safety and privacy of devices, data, and services to client-specified levels of security.
Cloud computing in healthcare helps enhance patient experiences and engagement while empowering provider collaboration and improving operational insights. Moreover, manufacturing, retail, and energy can help clients discover operational efficiencies, lower costs, generate new income streams, personalize user experiences, optimize supply chains, and speed up response rates.
Looking To The Future
Cloud-based technologies change the industries in which they are used is a story yet unwritten. However, as far as things stand today, the efforts of developers have brought cloud computing to the world and have been heralded as a success.
Although he has since left Microsoft after 21 years of service, his interests still lie in technology, AI, and the tools and capabilities needed to bring about positive change for people all around the world.
“I’m incredibly excited about what digital technology is bringing to every industry right now,” he recently said. “This means manufacturing companies can rethink what they can do with a connected car and financial services institutions can rethink what they can do with abundant compute and automated and augmented intelligence.”