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Sunday, June 25th, 2017

Cloud

Cloud and data centre trends roundup 2016: Machine learning, hybrid cloud and Google's enterprise ambitions

A decade on from the launch of Amazon Web Services (AWS), the cloud market is continuing to evolve quickly. What was once seen as a toy for test and development purposes now hosts mission-critical workloads for some of the largest companies in the world, while vendors work on the next generation of cloud services, such as those around machine learning.

Business demand clearly shows no sign of abating. Gartner claimed the overall cloud market was valued at $208.6 billion in 2016, amounting to a 17.2 percent increase from $178 billion the year before.

As 2016 draws to a close, Computerworld UK takes a look back at some of the key emerging trends in cloud computing this year.

Google emerges as real cloud contender

There is little doubt that AWS remains the clear leader in the public cloud market. However, over the past 12 months competition has become fiercer.

Google has been offering a range of public cloud services for some time now, but during 2016 it became clear that it is taking the enterprise market a whole lot more seriously.

On the back of hiring former-VMware CEO Diane Greene to lead its enterprise cloud division, the company rolled out a number of high profile business customers at Cloud Next in San Francisco earlier this year, including Coca-Cola, Disney, Home Depot and Spotify, which migrated its systems away from AWS's cloud.

There was a concerted effort to appeal not just to the developers that Google has held sway with in the past, but also with CIOs and IT managers. It has also committed to a global data centre expansion to allay corporate data sovereignty concerns, with a data centre planned for the UK next year.

It is not the only firm threatening the dominance of AWS. Not so long ago it appeared that there was no catching the cloud vendor, with Gartner claiming it has 14 times the capacity of its competitors combined.

Traditional IT giants HPE and Dell may have already thrown in the towel, but these days there are a growing number of public cloud options for UK customers, with Oracle growing its IaaS business since launching earlier this year (Q2 results indicated $175m in revenues), alongside developer-focused Digital Ocean, and the cloud division of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, which recently opened data centres in Europe.