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One Day the Cloud Really Will Be Big: The Economist

“One day the cloud really will be big…” concludes an article in this week’s international print edition of The Economist, an intriguing article that sets out to quantify the size of the three main layers of the cloud computing ecosystem.

The article draws in part on these statistics , published in Guy Rosen’s invaluable “Jack of All Clouds” blog.

What The Economist attempts to do is to quantify the SaaS, PaaS and IaaS layers of the ecosystem. It is in that last category that it makes use of Rosen’s data and also quotes Cloudkick – the San Francisco start-up – and Randy Bias, who is, like Rosen, a Top 50 Cloud Blogger.

The article’s guesstimate is that “revenues generated by computing infrastructure as a service in 2010 may exceed $1 billion.”

It then goes on to speculate about the future:

“So how big is the cloud? And how big will it be in, say, ten years?

It depends on the definition. If you count web-based applications and online platforms, it is already huge and will become huger. Forrester predicts that it will grow to nearly $56 billion by 2020. But raw computing services, the core of the cloud, is much smaller—and will not get much bigger. Forrester, reckons it will be worth $4 billion in 2020 (although this has much to do with the fact that even in the cloud, the cost of computer hardware will continue to drop, points out Stefan Ried of Forrester).”

The Economist doesn’t hesitate to gently chastise Amazon for its reticence in terms of supplying statistics regarding EC2.

“Amazon, for instance, only reveals that it now stores more than 200 billion digital ‘objects’ and has to fulfil nearly 200,000 requests for them per second,” the article notes, adding that these are “impressive … but not very useful” numbers, since an object can be a small file or an entire movie.

“One day the cloud really will be big,” the article concludes, before observing, somewhat trenchantly:

“Given a little more openness, more people might actually believe that.”

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