Opinion: Cloud boom empowers business, creates new career opportunities

by External09 Jun 2015
A 'perfect storm' of  infrastructure development, economic growth, innovation, new business skills, and changing consumer behaviour is driving the current focus on the cloud as a business builder, writes Chris Cheadle.

As the cloud boom continues to accelerate across many industries, organsiations are gaining more opportunities to review their current infrastructure and business solutions. The flexibility of cloud computing coupled with mobile access to IT services means organisations across Australia are really benefiting from advances in business productivity and enhanced communications. This transformation is also opening up new job opportunites for our connected, tech-savvy population.
According to Forrester, over 86% of businesses in Australia use the cloud in some capacity, and it is predicted that the Australian market for public cloud services will reach AU$2.6bn by 2017. But what is driving this investment and why is it happening now? While there’s no single answer to this question, there are a number of factors converging to make the local cloud story quite exciting right now: infrastructure development, economic growth, innovation, new business skills, and changing consumer behaviour.
Investment in the cloud
Cloud computing is empowering enterprises by providing IT infrastructure, software, and services through an internet-based delivery model on a pay-as-you-go basis. Instead of maintaining their own equipment and IT assets, companies can concentrate on creating business value for their customers.
The increasing need for agility creates a compelling environment for further cloud expansion as companies seek more sophisticated, flexible, and accessible applications to support their growth plans. Entrepreneurs want to avoid the challenges of complex on-premise IT systems and are starting their transition to the cloud. With plenty of choice between the different layers of cloud, Australian organisations are well advanced in the adoption of cloud computing, with 86% of enterprises in Australia having used the cloud for more than a year.
Hardware (computers, servers, storage, and network connectivity) can be made available as an infrastructure base (infrastructure as a service - IaaS). The more visible software applications occupying the upper layer can also be delivered as a service (Software as a service – SaaS). The most advanced cloud companies complete the offering with a platform (Platform as a Service – PaaS), which provides ready access to tools to rapidly develop and run applications and tailor them for mobile connectivity.
The majority of today’s cloud services offer full web-based APIs to enable these solutions to interact with the existing systems in order to meet an organisation’s needs, enabling innovative companies to swiftly unleash their ideas, capitalise on disruptive business models, and deliver the services their customers really value. This indicates that not only is cloud investment a technology decision, but a business model decision.
The mobile revolution
Australia is rapidly embracing mobile. The power of always-on, easily available, IT services is changing the business and social landscape. Nearly 50 per cent of businesses now allow employees to bring their personal devices to work and, on the consumer front, 83 per cent of tablet owners use their device to access the Internet more than once per day. As a result, customers can access cloud services and applications through the internet and on their mobile devices, wherever they are. Digitally savvy consumers have high expectations and also force a high rate of innovation, pushing companies to develop more novel offerings within tighter timeframes.  
With many industries from airlines to governments to retail, all looking to engage and inform some of the world’s biggest populations across the APAC region, only cloud will support the rapid deployment of new online products and services to meet these demands and high consumer expectations.
Platforms for career growth
The cloud offers businesses a model with greater potential, power and flexibility. This is changing the way organisations respond to business requirements, in turn reshaping the nature of many jobs. Rather than resulting in significant downsizing of existing IT staff, cloud computing simply changes the skill sets of people you hire moving forward. This creates a strong platform for career growth, not only for new, specialised jobs, such as cloud architects, engineers and developers, but for the new generation of digital enthusiasts, as well as the broader workforce.
The cloud and mobile revolutions are benefiting businesses and helping to create a community of highly tech-literate people, who are quickly becoming an  integral part of the development of the Australian workforce. For example, software developers will need to be as aware of infrastructure issues, such as latency and security, as they are of the latest development tools and platforms. IT professionals also need to be willing to learn about cloud and not rest on their existing knowledge - as the cloud boom continues to grow, so does the demand for tech savvy employees.

About the author
Chris Cheadle is the General Manager and Senior Vice President of Oracle Asia Pacific