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Cloud Power, Fear of Lock-in Grows Among IT Managers

Mary Meeker's Global Internet Trends: As the digital age expands, so does fear of technology lock-in by cloud vendors.

Computer gaming is having a big impact on how well humans can interact with computers and will accelerate the application of compute power to more areas of human activity, according to the redoubtable Mary Meeker's annual Global Internet Trends survey.

Both the public and private cloud are growing in share of the IT budgets. At the same time, however, there appears to be an increasing fear among IT managers of cloud vendor technology lock-in.

Meeker makes a well-known, slide-rich presentation each year at the invitation-only CodeCon event, sponsored by the technology news site, Recode. This year's event occurred May 30-June 1 in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., and Meeker's fellow Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers partner Alex Kurland compiled the cloud trends part of the presentation. Kurland cited evidence that the major cloud providers are generating a new round of lock-in fear.

Kurland's data on lock-in fears, however, is already aging. It was drawn primarily from the Bain consulting group's Cloud Computing Survey, citing the years 2012 versus 2015. In 2012, the chief concerns were data security and cost uncertainty in the cloud. In 2015, the chief concerns were data compliance/governance and vendor lock-in. In 2012, data security commanded the top worry spot for 42%, with uncertainty over costs a close runner-up at 38%. In 2015, those concerns were on the decline at 35% and 21%, respectively. Rising as a top concern was vendor lock-in, on the minds of just 7% in 2012 but rising to 22% in 2015, and data governance/compliance, rising from 21% to 27% over the same period.

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Figures cited from the Rightscale State of the Cloud report for 2017 report divided up the cloud market between four vendors, with Amazon Web Services still the distinct leader. It maintained a 57% share of the public cloud market, a level that was unchanged from the year before. Microsoft accounted for 34% of the market in 2017, up from 20% the year before. And Google accounted for 15%, up from 10% the year before. IBM showed a more modest growth rate from 7% to 8% of the market between 2016 and 2017, according to Meeker's presentation.

Meanwhile, the cloud keeps getting a larger share of the IT budget. In 2013, the traditional data center accounted for 73% of the IT infrastructure spend; the public cloud, 14%; and private cloud, 9%. By the end of 2016, the traditional data center had sunk to 63% of the IT infrastructure spend; public cloud had risen to 22%; private cloud, 15%.

Use of cloud services and enterprise dependence on advanced computer systems will only accelerate, the Kleiner Perkins partners warned. Computer gaming in the form of massive, collaborative online gaming is improving the human/computer system interaction, they said.

That's being driven by the graphics heavy gaming environment, which is supported by rapidly improving graphics processors built into computer motherboards. Kurland cited Nvidia's gigaflop capability rise from five gigaflops in 2002 to 10,000 gigaflops in 2016 as an example. With the improved graphics processing, game environments become a richer, more three-dimensional-like environments with greater opportunities for learning.

The augmented reality that will be found in future game environments will aid human/computer interactions in such areas as personal finance, education, personal health, energy conservation, dating, exercise and food consumption, he predicted. Likewise, game environments will begin to spill over into serious training by the military, aviation, healthcare, neuroscience and general workplace productivity.

The human interface to computers is being rapidly advanced in the area of voice recognition, he noted. Google Machine Learning allows a voice recognition system to achieve a 95% accuracy rate in translating the human voice, a level that matches normal human interchanges.

Devices such as Amazon's Echo home voice-activated and ordering device are showing the potential of the interface. There are 10.4 million Echo devices in homes today compared to under two million in 2015. Voice-activated Google Assistant handled 20% of mobile search queries in 2016; it's now handling 70% of them, Kurland said.

At the same time, the time spent per day with digital devices continues on the rise. In 2008, it was 2.7 hours; in 2016, it was 5.6 hours.

There are now 3.4 billion users of the Internet, an increase of 10% over 2016, and a 46% penetration of the world's population. Smart phone use continues growing at a rate of 3%, which is down from the 2016 level of 10% growth. The smart phone market is maturing and will grow at a slower rate than shown in the past several years, according to charts presented by Kurland and Meeker.