Archive for IT Infrastructure

Featured Article – Microsoft Teams User Numbers Up By 12 Million In A Week

Microsoft’s collaborative working platform ‘Teams’ is reported to have seen a massive 12 million user boost in one week as a result of remote-working through the coronavirus outbreak, and through Microsoft making the platform generally available through Office 365 from March 14.

What Is Teams?

Teams, announced in November 2016 and launched by Microsoft in 2017, is a platform designed to help collaborative working and combines features such as workplace chat, meetings, notes, and attachments. Described by Microsoft as a “complete chat and online meetings solution”, it normally integrates with the company’s Office 365 subscription office productivity suite. In July 2018, Microsoft introduced a free, basic features version of Teams which did not require an Office 365 account, in order to increase user numbers and tempt users away from competitor ‘Slack’.

Microsoft Teams is also the replacement for Skype for Business Online, the support for which will end on 31 July 2021, and all-new Microsoft 365 customers have been getting Microsoft Teams by default from 1 September 2019.

March 14

Microsoft Corp. announced on March 14 that Microsoft Teams would be generally available in Office 365 for business customers in 181 markets and 19 languages.

Increased To 44 Million Users

The move to make Teams generally available to businesses with Office 365, coupled with a mass move to remote working as a result of COVID-19 has resulted in 12 million new users joining the platform in a week, bringing users up from 32 million on 11 March to 44 million users a week later.  The number is likely to have increased significantly again since 18 March.

What Does Teams Offer?

Microsoft Teams offers threaded chat capabilities which Microsoft describes as “a modern conversations experience”, and built-in Office 365 apps like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, SharePoint and Power BI.  Also, Teams offers users ad-hoc (and scheduled) voice and video meetings and has security and compliance capabilities built-in as it supports global standards, including SOC 1, SOC 2, EU Model Clauses, ISO27001 and HIPAA. Users are also able to benefit from the fact that workspaces can be customised for each team using tabs, connectors and bots from third-party partners and Microsoft tools e.g. Microsoft Planner and Visual Studio Team Services. Microsoft says that more than 150 integrations are available or coming soon to Teams.

New Features

Microsoft reports that it has added more than 100 new features to Teams since November 2019.  These include an enhanced meeting experience (with scheduling), mobile audio calling, video calling on Android (coming soon to iOS), and email integration.  Teams has also benefited from improvements to accessibility with support for screen readers, high contrast and keyboard-only navigation.

Walkie-Talkie Phone

In January, Microsoft announced that it was adding a “push-to-talk experience” to Teams that turns employee or company-owned smartphones and tablets into walkie-talkies.  The Walkie Talkie feature, which can be accessed in private preview in the first half of this year and will be available in the Teams mobile app, offers clear, instant and secure voice communication over the cloud.

Competition

There are, of course, other services in competition with Microsoft Teams. Slack, for example, is a cloud-based set of proprietary team collaboration tools and services.  Slack enables users (communities, groups, or teams) to join through a URL or invitation sent by a team admin or owner.  Although Slack was intended to be an organisational communication tool, it has morphed into a community platform i.e. it is a business technology that has crossed over into personal use.

That said, Slack reported in October last year that it had 12 million daily active users, which was a 2 million increase since January 2019.

Slack has stickiness and strong user engagement which help to attract businesses that want to get into using workstream collaboration software but, it faces challenges such as convincing big businesses that it is not just a chat app and that it is a worthy, paid-for alternative to its more well-known competitors like Microsoft’s Teams.

Like Teams, Slack has just introduced new features and has experienced a surge of growth in just over a month.

Another competitor to Microsoft’s Teams is Zoom, which is a platform for video and audio conferencing, chat, and webinars that is often used alongside Google’s G Suite and Slack.  It has been reported that Zoom is now top of the free downloaded apps in Apple’s app store, and Learnbonds.com reports that downloads for Zoom increased by 1,270 per cent between February 22 and March 22.

Real-Life Example – Teams

A real-life example from Microsoft of how Teams is being put to good use is by bicycle and cycling gear company Trek Bicycle.  Microsoft reports how Teams has become the project hub for the company where all staff know where to find the latest documents, notes, tasks relating to team conversations thereby making Teams a central part of the company’s “get-things-done-fast culture.”

Looking Forward

Many businesses are already using and gaining advantages from the speed and scope of communication, project context, and convenience of a cloud-based, accessible hub offered by collaborative working platforms like Teams.  The decision to make Teams generally available with Office 365 for business can only make the platform more popular and the need for companies to quickly set-up effective remote working has stimulated the market for these services and given users a crash-course in and a strong reminder of their strengths and benefits.

The hope by Microsoft and other collaborative working platform providers is that companies will go on using the platforms long after they technically need to in order to deal with COVID19 lockdown and that they will decide to use them going forward to keep improving the flexibility and productivity of their businesses, compete with other companies that are getting the best from them, and guard against excessive damage to the business from any future lockdown situations.

Facebook Video Quality Reduced To Cope With Demand

Facebook and Instagram have reduced the quality of videos shared on their platforms in Europe as demand for streaming has increased due to self-isolation.

Lower Bitrate, Looks Similar

The announcement by Facebook that a lowering of the bit-rates for videos on Facebook and Instagram in Europe highlights the need to reduce network congestion, free-up more bandwidth, and make sure that users stay connected at a time where demand is reaching very high levels because of the COVID-19 pandemic.  The move could have a significant positive impact when you consider that Facebook has around 300 million daily users in Europe alone, and streaming video can account for as much as 60% of traffic on fixed and mobile networks.

Although a reduction in bit-rates for videos will, technically, reduce the quality, the likelihood is that the change will be virtually imperceptible to most users.

Many Other Platforms

Facebook is certainly not the only platform taking this step as Amazon, Apple TV+, Disney+ and Netflix have also made similar announcements.  For example, Netflix is reducing its back video bit rates while still claiming to allow customers to get HD and Ultra HD content (with lower image quality),  and Amazon Prime Video has started to reduce its streaming bitrates as has Apple’s streaming service.

Google’s YouTube is also switching all traffic in the EU to standard definition by default.

BT Say UK Networks Have The Capacity

BT’s Chief Technology and Information Officer, Howard Watson, has announced that the UK’s advanced digital economy means that it has overbuilt its networks to compensate for HD streaming content and that the UK’s fixed broadband network core has been built with the extra ‘headroom’ to support evening peaks of network traffic that high-bandwidth applications create. Mr Watson has also pointed out that since people started to work from home more this month, there has been a weekday daytime traffic increase of 35-60 per cent compared with similar days on the fixed network, peaking at 7.5Tb/s, which is still only half the average evening peak, and far short of the 17.5 Tb/s that the network is known to be able to handle.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

For Amazon, Apple TV, Netflix, Facebook and others platforms, they are clearly facing a challenge to their service delivery in Europe but have been quick to take a step that will at least mean that there’s enough bandwidth for their services to be delivered with the trade-off being a fall in the level of viewing quality for customers.  Many customers, however, are likely not to be too critical about the move, given the many other big changes that have been made to their lives as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak and the attempts to reduce its impact.  Netflix has even pointed out the extra benefit that its European viewers are likely to use 25 per cent less data when watching films as a result of the bit rate changes. However, with online streaming services being one of the main pleasures that many people feel they have left to enjoy safely, the change in bit rate should be OK as long as the picture quality isn’t drastically reduced to the point of annoyance and distraction.

Gigabit, Ultrafast Broadband For One Million Households In The West Midlands

Virgin Media has announced that in the UK’s largest gigabit switch-on to date, it is launching its next-generation Gig1 Fibre Broadband services for 1 million+ homes in Birmingham, Coventry and surrounding areas across the West Midlands.

Speed

Virgin Media says that its Gig1 Fibre Broadband offers broadband speeds up to 20 times faster than the regional average with an average peak-time download speed of 1,104Mbps.

Also, the Hub 4 gigabit-capable router is Virgin’s fastest to date and can manage multiple devices at the same time around the home, thereby sharing the hyper-fast speed.  This could mean that ultra-high-definition 4K films and TV programmes, large files and 360-degree videos could be downloaded almost instantaneously, even with multiple devices using the connection at the same time.

Virgin Media says that it now has the largest gigabit-capable network in the UK which currently passes nearly 15 million UK premises.

Government

The government’s Digital Secretary, Oliver Dowden, has said that Virgin Media’s gigabit switch-on for households in the Midlands puts them “a million homes closer in delivering our plans to deliver gigabit broadband to everyone in the UK” and stresses that his government are investing £5 billion to make sure that “even the hardest to reach areas aren’t left behind”.

Electronic Communications Code Changes

In October 2019, the UK’s Electronic Communications Code was amended to help speed up fast broadband rollout across the UK. The change to the law gave broadband operators compulsory rights to install their apparatus on another person’s property, thereby getting around the problem of landlords not responding to requests for access to blocks of flats and apartments.

Full Fibre By 2025?

Back in June last year, while on the campaign to become the next Conservative party leader, Boris Johnson proposed a target of full-fibre broadband for the UK by 2025.  This target has since been seen by many not realistic because ‘full-fibre’ would mean digging up land and laying down cables, even in the most remote of homes.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

For those in the Midlands who actually need these kinds of speeds, this service could be advantageous, and it could benefit small (home) businesses with large data requirements.

Although it is the beginning of ultra-fast broadband rollout in an area where there is a large population and is, therefore, a step in the right direction, critics say that many users may not need a connection that fast and may simply not know the speed of the connection that they already have.

Broadband and Wi-Fi are now essential services for business, and businesses would obviously welcome any improvement in broadband speeds in the UK as soon as possible as it would undoubtedly help UK companies to become more competitive and would boost the economy.

UK Job Candidates Favour Tech-Savvy Companies

New research conducted by Censuswide on behalf of Tableau Software has revealed that half of UK job candidates would reject a job offer from a company that offered no digital and data potential.

Training

The research results, which were obtained from 1,100 office workers and C-suite executives from across the UK, showed that a vacancy that offered digital and analytics training (important for 80 per cent) and where a commitment to encouraging new skills was just a perk of the job (90 per cent) would make most candidates more likely to accept a job offer with a specific company or organisation.

Interested In The Company

The research results showed that as well as being interested in the opportunity to gain skills to make themselves more data fluent, most candidates (80 per cent) also recognised the value that training or learning and development programmes could bring to an organisation’s digital and data analytics strategy and competitiveness, thereby making it a more attractive organisation to work in.

40 per cent of candidates, for example, think that companies that invest in training and learning and development programmes are likely to get the benefit of employee engagement and retention as a result.

SHRM Report

A 2019 Society for Human Resource Management report showed that the U.S. is facing similar tech skills shortage challenges with the workforce not having enough workers and skilled candidates to fill an ever-increasing number of high-skilled jobs. The report highlighted candidates not having the right technical skills as the reason why 35 per cent of organisations are struggling to hire suitable candidates and suggests that training is one of the most effective ways to bridge the skills gap for both retention and recruitment.

The report says that an increase in worker training and education, and companies collaborating closely with educational institutions in order to improve graduate employability and supplementing the existing workforce with foreign-born talent could be a good way to meet the needs of companies and job candidates.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

With the effective use of data playing an important role in the success of businesses and with job applicants realising the value that could be created for themselves in the tech job market and for the companies they join through tech training and development, there is pressure on companies to offer this as a way to attract good staff.

UK businesses have been faced with a tech skills shortage for several years now, which was exacerbated by forces (such as Brexit fears) deterring overseas talent. Also, a recent Open University report, ‘Leading in a Digital Age’, highlighted how business leaders themselves still need to be equipped, through technology training, to manage digital change in order to improve the performance of their businesses.

Considering the number of factors involved in creating the skills shortage in the first place among workers and business leaders, many feel that the burden to reverse the situation and create a more tech-skilled workforce shouldn’t be down to companies alone financing training for their staff.  Many businesses feel that a wider strategy involving the government, the education system and businesses working together is the way forward to developing a base of digital skills in the UK population and to ensure that the whole tech ecosystem finds effective ways to address the skills gap and keep the UK’s tech industries and business attractive and competitive.

Business Leaders Lack Vital Digital Skills Says OU Survey

The Open University’s new ‘Leading in a Digital Age’ report highlights a link between improved business performance and leaders who are equipped, through technology training, to manage digital change.

Investing In Digital Skills Training

The latest version of the annual report, which bases its findings on a survey of 950 CTOs and senior leaders within UK organisations concludes that leaders who invested in digital skills training are experiencing improved productivity (56 per cent), greater employee engagement (55 per cent), enhanced agility, and vitally, increased profit.

The flipside, highlighted in the same survey, is that almost half (47 per cent) of those business leaders surveyed thought they lacked the tech skills to manage in the digital age, and more than three-quarters of them acknowledge that they could benefit from more digital training.

Key Point

The key point revealed by the OU survey and report is that the development of digital skills in businesses are led from the top and that those businesses that invest in learning and development of digital skills are likely to be more able to take advantage of opportunities in what could now be described as a ‘digital age’.

Skills Shortages

The report acknowledges the digital skills shortages that UK businesses and organisations face (63 per cent of senior business leaders report a skills shortage for their organisation) and the report identifies a regional divide in those companies reporting skills shortages – more employers in the South and particularly the South West are finding that skills are in short supply and reporting that recruitment for digital roles takes longer.

One likely contributing factor to some geographical/regional divides in skills shortages and difficulty in recruiting for tech roles in those areas may be the spending, per area, on addressing those skills shortages.  For example, London is reported to have spent (in 2019) £1.4 billion (the equivalent of £30,470 per organisation), while the North East spent the least (£172.2 million), and South East spent only £10,260 per organisation.

Factors Affecting The Skills Shortage

The OU report identifies several key factors that appear to be affecting the skills shortage and the investment that may be needed to address those skills shortages. These include the uncertainty over Brexit, increased competition, an ageing population, the speed and scope of the current ‘digital revolution’, and a lack of diversity.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

Bearing in mind that the OU, whose survey and report this was, is a supplier of skills training, the report, nonetheless, makes some relevant and important points.  For many businesses, for example, managers and owners are most likely to the be the ones with the most integrated picture of the business and its aims, and if they had better digital skills and awareness they may be more likely to identify opportunities, and more likely to promote and invest in digital skills training within their organisation that could be integral to their organisation being able to take advantage of those opportunities.

The tech skills shortage in the UK is, unfortunately, not new and is not down to just businesses alone to solve the skills gap challenge. The government, the education system and businesses need to find ways to work together to develop a base of digital skills in the UK population and to make sure that the whole tech ecosystem finds effective ways to address the skills gap and keep the UK’s tech industries and business attractive and competitive.  As highlighted in the OU report, apprenticeships may be one more integrated way to help bridge skills shortages.

.ORG Silence Continues After ICANN Imposes Temporary Sale Halt

Internet companies are still none-the-wiser about the details of the proposed sale of the .org registry to private equity firm Ethos Capital following DNS overseer ICANN putting a temporary halt on the sale back on 9 December.

What Sale?

The rights to the .org domain registry, one of the largest internet registries in the world, with over 10 million names, was/is due to be sold by ISOC (aka the Internet Society), the parent company of PIR (the organisation that currently runs it) for an as-yet-undisclosed sum to Ethos Capital.

Always Not For Profit

The relatively sudden announcement of the sale caused shock and some dismay within the industry over the thought that a registry that has held its non-profit status since 2003 will now be ending up in private hands. Historically, .org domains have always been the outward sign of non-profit organisations.

About Ethos

Some industry commentators have also expressed concern about the lack of knowledge within the industry about Ethos Capital, and some worries have, therefore, been expressed about how qualified and able they may be to manage the .org registry.

Other Criticism

Other criticisms about the sale, which have been voiced online include:

– Suspicion about possible conflicts of interest e.g. around Fadi Chehade, a former CEO of ICANN who is credited by some with encouraging a free-market approach to internet addresses, and who some appear to believe is connected to Ethos Capital.

– After ICANN lifted the price caps on .org domains for the next 10 years (allowing unlimited price increases on the millions of .org domain names) many high-profile non-profit organisations have rejected ICANN’s claim that the move was simply to make the process consistent with the base form registry agreement and have accused ICANN of disregarding the public interest in favour of ICANN’s own administrative convenience.

– Worries that ICANN’s decision to approve the proposed sale may have been subject to bias and may not have reflected the true strength of feeling against the sale.

– Concerns were even expressed by those who supported the proposal e.g. ICANN’s At Large Advisory Committee (ALAC) and Non-Commercial Stakeholder Group (NCSG).

– Anger that ICANN appeared to move ahead with the decision to lift caps without any explanation, and that there still appears to be a level of secrecy surrounding the sale.

– Suspicion by some that the deal has long been the subject of informal discussion among key players.

Temporary Halt

A temporary halt was placed on the proposed sale of the .org Registry right to Ethos Capital in early December and since then, the Packet Clearing House (PCH) has argued (in a letter to ICANN) that the sale and move to non-profit status would mean less money being spent on .org’s operational costs, and could affect stability and could disrupt “critical real-time functions” of organisations using .org domains.

Silence

There is now a sense of frustration from many parties in the industry over the apparent silence, and the distinct lack of information since the temporary halt was placed on the sale.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

There are many important organisations that use .org domains e.g. air traffic control, and these, as well as the 10 million others who have .org domains, will be concerned not just about the possible price rises of .orgs due to the lifting of the price cap, but also about the possible disruption and instability that the sale of this kind could cause.

There also appears to be a good deal of anger, concern, and unanswered questions in the Internet market about the decision to sell and the details of the sale, as well as apparent feelings of a possible lack of transparency and feelings that things may possibly have been rushed through with important arguments against the sale not being adequately addressed. That said, ICANN must have seen good enough reason to put a temporary halt on the sale, for the time being.

It remains to be seen exactly what happens next but in the interests of the industry and .org owners, the hope is that there will more communication, information and transparency very soon.

‘Moore’s Law’ and Business Innovation Challenged By Slow-Down In Rate of Processing Power Growth

Many tech commentators have noted a stagnation or slow-down period in computing related to ‘Moore’s Law’ being challenged, but has the shrinking of transistors within computer chips really hit a wall and what could drive innovation further?

What Is Moore’s Law?

Moore’s Law, named after Intel co-founder Gordon Moore, is based on his observation from 1965 that transistors were shrinking so quickly that twice as many would be able to fit into a micro-chip every year, which he later amended to a doubling every two years.  In essence, this Law should mean that processing power for computers doubles every two years.

The Challenge

The challenge to this Law that many tech commentators have noted is that technology companies may be reaching their limit in terms of fitting ever-smaller silicon transistors into ever-smaller spaces, thereby leading to a general slowing of the growth of processing power.  The knock-on effect of this appears slowing of computer innovation that some say could have a detrimental effect on new, growing industry sectors such as self-driving cars.

What’s Been Happening?

Big computer chip manufacturers like Intel have delayed the next generation of smaller transistor technology and increased the time between introducing the future generations of their chips. Back in 2016 for example, Intel found that it could shrink chips to as little as 14 nanometres, but 10 nanometres is going to be a challenge that would take longer to achieve.

The effect has not only been a challenge to Moore’s Law, and a challenge to how the big tech companies can keep improving their data centres, but also how computers are able to work for (and keep up with) the demands of business.

Mobile devices, which use chips other than Intel’s may also have the brakes put on them slightly as they now also rely, to a large extent, on the data-centres to run the apps that their users value.

What About Supercomputers?

Some experts have also noted that the rate of improvement of supercomputers has been slowing in recent years and this may have had a negative impact on the research programs that use them.

That said, the cloud means that IBM is now able to offer quantum computing to tens of thousands of users, thereby empowering what it calls “an emerging quantum community of educators, researchers, and software developers that share a passion for revolutionising computing”.  It is doing this by opening a Quantum Computation Centre in New York which will bring the world’s largest fleet of quantum computing systems online, including the new 53-Qubit Quantum System for broad use in the cloud.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

Many smaller businesses that are less directly reliant upon the most-up-to-date computers may not be particularly concerned at the present time about the challenge to Moore’s Law,  but all businesses are likely to be indirectly affected as their tech giant suppliers struggle to keep improving the capacity of their data-centres.

Many see AI and machine learning as the gateway to finding innovative solutions to improving computing power, but these also rely on data-centres and other areas of computing that have been challenged by the pressure on Moore’s Law.

A more likely way forward may be that chip designs will need to be improved and highly specialised versions will need to be produced, and Microsoft and Intel have already made a start on this by working on reconfigurable chips.  Also, the big tech companies may need to collaborate on their R &D in order to find the way forward in increasing the rate of improvement of computing power that can ensure that businesses can drive their products, services and innovation forward.

New Law To Advance Fast Broadband Roll-Out Announced

Amendments to the UK’s Electronic Communications Code will give broadband operators compulsory rights to install their apparatus on another person’s property, thereby getting around the problem of landlords not responding to requests for access to blocks of flats and apartments.

The Challenge

The challenge that has prompted the government to seek changes to the current legislation has been a claim by broadband operators that 40% of their requests for access to blocks of flats and apartments have routinely received no response. This has been blamed for slowing down the UK government’s plans to deliver the target of national full-fibre coverage by 2025 and develop the kind of digital infrastructure that could boost growth and boost productivity.

The Law

Prior to 2017, the UK law that applied to relations between landlords and telecoms operators in respect installing and maintaining electronic communications apparatus on land and buildings was the Telecommunications Code in the Telecommunications Act 1984 (amended by the Communications Act 2003). This Telecommunications Code has now been replaced by the new Electronic Communications Code (as part of the Digital Economy Act 2017). The new code means that a broadband operator can now apply for compulsory rights to install apparatus on another person’s property.

It is thought this change to the law will mean that an extra 3,000 (estimated) residential buildings (flats and apartments) per year can now have modern broadband installed.

Rural Challenge

The government still faces a considerable challenge in getting more rural areas connected in order to meet its broadband and mobile network roll-out targets, and there is currently a digital divide between urban and rural areas of the UK.  The government has recently announced, however, that £5bn new funding will be made available to bring gigabit-capable broadband to harder-to-reach, rural parts of the UK as well as a change in planning rules to help the roll-out of 5G.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

Now that operators don’t have to wait for responses from landlords, this could make the chance of the government meeting its broadband targets a little more likely and could help boost the economy.

Broadband is an essential service for business and despite this positive change in the law, many UK business owners still know that broadband services in the UK can sometimes be patchy and often expensive, while ‘Which?’ research shows that the UK ranks only 31st in the world for average broadband speeds. Those businesses in rural areas are also finding themselves facing the challenge of a growing digital divide between rural and urban that is adversely affecting their competitiveness.

Even with this change in the law, being able to meet the target of national full-fibre coverage by 2025 is a big ask and it is estimated that the UK may only have 7% full-fibre coverage by 2020.

Windows Virtual Desktop Generally Available Now

Microsoft has announced that its Windows Virtual Desktop is now generally available worldwide on Azure and will include Windows 7 free Extended Security Updates for up to three years.

Windows Virtual Desktop

Windows Virtual Desktop from Microsoft, which was announced last September but has just been made generally available worldwide, is a Cloud-based ‘virtual’ version of Windows that can be accessed by employees from any device from anywhere, provides full multi-session, and is always up to date.  The Virtual Desktop has been designed with modern working practice in mind where not all employees sit in an office, use just one device or work from secure locations.

According to Microsoft, Windows Virtual Desktop is the only virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) that can provide simplified management, multi-session Windows 10, optimizations for Office 365 ProPlus, as well as and support for Remote Desktop Services (RDS) environments.

The Virtual Desktop enables Windows desktops and apps to be deployed and scaled on Microsoft’s Azure portal in minutes, and it includes built-in security and compliance features.

Supported Transition to Windows 10

One key sweetener of the new service for those companies facing the end of support for their old Windows 7 deployments is that it offers free extended security updates for the Windows 7 virtual desktop including more support options for previous app versions while users transition to Windows 10.

Migrate

Microsoft is keen to emphasise that its Virtual Desktop can work with your current Remote Desktop Services (RDS), and can therefore easily be migrated on Azure.

Trust

Microsoft is also keen to emphasise that businesses can trust the new Windows Virtual Desktop not least because Microsoft invests more than USD $1 billion annually on cybersecurity research and development, employs 3,500+ security experts, and Azure has more compliance certifications than any other cloud provider.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

With Virtual Desktop, Microsoft is hoping to capitalise on the fact that many businesses have workers in multiple locations with multiple devices who need to have convenient and secure access to a constantly updated version of their desktop.  Microsoft also knows that companies are getting more confident about moving more of their infrastructure to the Cloud, and want a secure, scalable ‘as-as-Service’ offering where they don’t need to worry about having the expertise in-house.

The easy migration aspect of the service and the offer of extended Windows 7 support may be of value to businesses looking to make a leveraged move forward to Windows 10 and may help Microsoft retain valuable business customers.

Report Says Public Cloud May Double In Just Four Years

The new cloud market report from the Synergy Research Group shows that cloud-associated markets, such as the public cloud, are growing at rates ranging from 10% to over 40% and the annual spending on the cloud may double in four years.

IaaS & PaaS Biggest Growth

Synergy’s half-yearly report shows that, across the seven key cloud service and infrastructure market segments, revenues for operator and vendors in the first half of 2019 exceeded $150 billion, which is a rise in growth of 24% from the first half of 2018.

The biggest area of growth in the cloud infrastructure sector was in the infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS) market segments where there was a massive 44% growth rate.  IaaS is online, virtualised computing resources over the internet, and PaaS is where a provider hosts the hardware and software on its own infrastructure with PaaS products enabling developers to build custom applications online without having to worry about data serving, storage, and management.

The Synergy report also showed growth rates of enterprise SaaS at 27%, UCaaS at 23% and hosted private cloud infrastructure services at 20%.  The report also shows that spending on cloud services is now much greater than spending on supporting data centre infrastructure.

Infrastructure Investments

In the first half of 2019, cloud service provides spent $55 billion on the hardware and software used to build cloud infrastructure (evenly split between public and private clouds).  These infrastructure investments helped cloud service providers to generate over $90 billion in revenues from their cloud infrastructure services (IaaS, PaaS, hosted private cloud services) and enterprise SaaS.

Leaders

The Synergy report shows that the leaders in the IaaS and PaaS segments in the first half of 2019 are Microsoft, Amazon/AWS, Dell EMC, Cisco, HPE and Google.  Back in February, Amazon’s Web Services (AWS) reported a massive 45% growth in the revenue of the fourth quarter, mostly fuelled by big profits in its public cloud arm.

Other big names in that market segment include Salesforce, Adobe, VMware, IBM, Digital Realty, Equinix and Rackspace.

All these big players together account for over half of all cloud-related revenues.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

The public cloud is being embraced by businesses as they seek to outsource and ditch traditional capital investment and maintenance problems and costs while reaping the benefits of having the pay-as-you-go scalability, security, and outsourced expertise that allows them to free up more of their own resources.  Cloud service providers are now investing heavily to win large slices of the cloud market with Amazon and Microsoft as market leaders, and as the Synergy report shows, this investment is delivering big revenues and impressive growth rates, particularly in the IaaS and PaaS market segments.