By Chandler Song, Co-Founder and CEO of Ankr
In just a few short years, the sharing economy has become a ubiquitous concept—one that is unlikely to dissipate anytime soon. The meteoric rise of tech heavyweights such as Uber and Airbnb has ushered in a new era of purchasing habits and views of ownership, disrupting industries such as public transport and real estate with lightning speed.
Projected to grow to $335 billion in 2025, the sharing economy has the ability to radically transform and better democratize even the latest technological advancements, take cloud computing, for example. This could lead to greater efficiencies, access, and lower costs while challenging the existing monopoly of cloud services by comparatively traditional tech conglomerates such as Amazon and Microsoft.
Powered by the cloud
The underlying concepts that eventually gave rise to cloud computing can be traced back to the early days of the Internet in the 90s. As a service offering, its arrival into the tech sector was marked by the release of Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud product in 2006, followed by the company’s subsequent creation of its Amazon Web Services arm, while other players such as Google and NASA began offering cloud computing products in 2008. From that point forward, the cloud computing sector has undergone multiple transformations in the last ten years, giving rise to more enterprise-ready, tailored solutions.
Today, cloud computing can be broken down into three main services: Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). While each type of cloud platform has its own unique advantages and use cases, at a basic level each offers the universal benefits that come with sharing computing resources, including scalability, ease of use, lowered costs, burgeoning ecosystems, and access to the latest technology.
Having surpassed a state of nascency and gone on to achieve mainstream success, the question for businesses is no longer a matter of whether the implementation of cloud is necessary, but rather how or when it’ll take place. Indeed, the development of hybrid cloud solutions and container innovations such as Kubernetes mark the next phase of cloud adoption where enterprises have the option to better adapt cloud solutions to their needs, now able to blend both public and private cloud resources by moving their workloads into a multi-cloud environment.
It is clear that cloud computing has revolutionized the way software and services are developed and delivered, while simultaneously bringing technology, businesses, and people together at a level of collaboration that is foreign to such a fiercely competitive industry. With a market share that is expected to reach $555 billion by 2020, the cloud services market has seen astounding growth, for reasons that parallel some of the principles behind the sharing economy—providing convenient, on-demand access without the cost and complexity of acquiring or managing the underlying technology. With the myriad of offerings that exist today, companies of varying sizes and differing needs can tailor their cloud computing solutions to meet their needs as they transition to a more digital interface.
Facing the giants
While enterprises can undoubtedly reap huge benefits from implementing cloud computing solutions, they come with certain drawbacks as well. According to statistics by Synergy Research Group, there is a massive imbalance in the cloud computing market share. In 2017, the top five giants—Amazon, Microsoft, IBM, Google, and Alibaba—owned a combined market share of almost 75% of the entire public cloud market.
This is a result of these tech conglomerates purposefully targeting enterprise users to move their workloads onto the cloud. While increased adoption is a good thing, it also means that companies may implement solutions without a real understanding or without really identifying a clear need. Their market dominance also comes at the expense of the small-to-medium sized cloud operators who, lacking the scale and financial muscle of these leaders, are unable to keep pace with their larger competitors.
The existing monopoly of cloud computing services can also significantly impact the ability of smaller businesses to implement such solutions, by making access to the cloud incredibly expensive.
As the technology continues to develop, enterprises will also need to upskill their workers accordingly. In addition to that, there are several other concerns surrounding the long-term viability for cloud implementation, ranging from security, to cost management. Though enterprise adoption of cloud computing continues to rise, companies are forced to confront the reality that mounting costs and growing technological sophistication could ultimately hinder long-term implementation.
An inclusive economy
With the proliferation of the sharing economy, distributed cloud computing has emerged as a way to tackle the limitations of today’s centralized cloud and mitigate rising costs while monetizing existing resources, leading to greater profits. It can also lead to improved security, when the distributed aspect is paired with other technologies such as blockchain in order to build a decentralized network.
Until the advent of distributed technology, immense amounts of idle computing power have remained untapped worldwide. As more and more computers, smartphones, and other devices come online, the amount of idle power will grow too. The concepts of decentralization and a sharing economy can help tackle the growing issue of cloud waste, by allowing enterprises and personal users to feed their idle computing resources into a shared marketplace.
By taking advantage of these underutilized resources from individuals across the globe, we will be able to yield tremendous computing power to support the rising demand, without having to rely on one central hub that can be easily exploited or monopolized.
Transitioning to a more digitized state of operations and storage should be a step forward that all enterprises, big or small, should be able to take; by disrupting the cloud computing sector with a sharing economy model, a wider range of businesses will be able to leverage the benefits of the cloud without fears of skyrocketing costs, while simultaneously democratizing access to this solution as a whole.