It wasn't too terribly long ago that "cloud computing" was a loosey-goosey marketing term being thrown around by anyone and everyone in the software space. And now? There's been a marked shift towards cloud-based services, which is a market that research firm Gartner predicts will grow 19.6 percent to $109 billion by the end of 2012.
"The cloud services market is clearly a high-growth sector within the overall IT marketplace," said Ed Anderson , research director at Gartner. "The key to taking advantage of this growth will be understanding the nuances of the opportunity within service segments and geographic regions, and then prioritizing investments in line with the opportunities."
In 2011, Gartner says the total public cloud services market was $91.4 billion. By 2016, the firm forecasts it will top $206.6 billion.
Gartner's forecast is anything but absurd. Mobile users are increasingly dependent on the cloud, in part because they're somewhat forced to be, and also because of the convenience factor. Think about the number of media tablets that skimp on built-in storage, some of which don't offer a way to expand via a microSD card slot.
On the IT side, Gartner notes that business process as a service (BPaaS) is the largest cloud-based segment, accounting for more than two thirds of the market. In other words, firms are increasingly outsourcing their payroll, printing, ecommerce, and other business processes to the cloud.
While on the topic of cloud computing, be sure to check out our fancy cloud managing guide for some indispensable tips!