Cloud Tech Revolution, Critical Challenges, and Growth Opportunities in a World of Uncertainty

Tom Keane
5 min readMay 22, 2023

Cloud computing offers immense value, and business leaders should approach digital transformation and the use of cloud services wisely. Understanding needs, working within compliance limitations, and delivering exceptional experiences take time. However, with the right tools and processes in place, anything is possible.

How do I know? For the past 20 years, my experience as a cloud computing pioneer and C-suite executive placed me at the forefront of important technological advances. Along the way, I developed expertise in cloud computing, network security, cyber security, digital sovereignty, digital transformation, and artificial intelligence. Those skills helped me champion mainstream adoption of cloud-based technologies by public and private users worldwide.

Through the years, I have been humbled to receive recognitions for my work, including selection as a top Microsoft Executive and Cloud Industry Executive of the Year in 2021.

I don’t say this to brag. I share because my experiences have given me insight into not only the benefits of cloud-based computation — they are many — but also the possible pitfalls.

I have been fortunate to be on the ground floor in cloud-based computing as it revolutionized the world by providing on-demand access to computing resources, allowing businesses to scale quickly and cost-effectively. Cloud services also give organizations the ability to store and access data anywhere and at any time, turbocharging decision-making, efficiency, and productivity.

Fast, performant, and easy-to-use cloud services also improve offerings, lower costs, and enhance decision-making in settings and use cases of every conceivable kind. It’s essentially changed life as we know it — and there’s no closing the barn door after the horse has bolted, as the old-timers say.

Cloud Models, AI Support Development, and Expansion of Tech-Based Services

The alphabet soup that is IaaS, SaaS, and PaaS would have been perceived as gobbledygook not too long ago. Today, I believe cloud models like infrastructure as a service, software as a service, and platform as a service support the ability of businesses to build and expand tech-based services and offerings to large user bases. With IaaS and SaaS, companies can rent out computing infrastructure such as servers, storage, and network devices (IaaS) or software and applications (SaaS) from a provider on a pay-as-you-go basis.As for PaaS, it provides access to a platform for building and deploying applications without the need to manage the underlying infrastructure. That’s a big step forward for companies operating in an increasingly digital and tech-reliant market.

Automated machine learning is the process of automating the tasks of applying machine learning to real-world problems.

IaaS, SaaS and PaaS, and other cloud model variations support creation of advanced AI models and automated machine learning. AI and AutoML allow businesses to quickly build, train and deploy models that can automate tasks, identify patterns in data, and make predictions. AI-driven big data analytics allow for analysis of large data sets quickly, giving enterprises the chance to extract actionable insights into customer behavior and trends, as well as identify ways to optimize operations.

AI also drives ChatGPT, the large language model tool that has forever changed how people create content and search for information. It’s already proven useful in education, digital marketing, retail, and consumer relations, and the surface has barely been scratched.

Two other tech advances also redefine what’s possible with data-driven analysis and decision-making. Edge computing, which moves data processing and analytics closer to the data source, can provide faster insights and improved response times. The Internet of Things (aka IoT), the cloud-based connection, and management of internet-connected devices, continue to evolve in areas that range from wearable medical devices to supply chain management. These can be game-changing for individuals and corporations alike. In any case, the results of this technology will trickle down to impact everyone’s life.

Challenges in Cloud-Based Services

Unfortunately, despite its widely accepted value proposition and the benefits outlined above, cloud computing faces many challenges. Some of the most common issues I’ve come across in my years in this space include cloud service costs, user onboarding, and building custom deployments needed to meet industry-specific requirements.

Concerns regarding data sovereignty, cybersecurity, data localization, and data protection — a growing concern for private, sensitive, and military and/or national security data — also are on the rise. All of them could potentially deter would-be users from investing in cloud-based solutions.

To tackle these problems, providers can lower costs, improve efficacy, and guarantee the flexibility and scalability of cloud offerings from two directions: the operational side and the development side.

Operational Opportunities

In terms of operational improvements, providers can offer users more cost-effective pricing, such as reserved instances, spot instances, and on-demand instances. With cost-effective pricing, providers charge customers only for the resources they use so they can avoid overspending. Reserved instances involve providing pre-purchased cloud services that come with a discounted rate for a specific amount of time.

Other options include spot instances (cloud services available on the open market for a discounted rate) and on-demand instances (immediately available cloud services where users are charged based on usage). Resource optimization, auto-scaling to adjust resources with usage, and building cloud-native services are examples of low-hanging fruit that providers can pursue to lower costs and improve operational efficiency. The same applies to using cloud automation and orchestration tools.

Development Opportunities

On the development side, I recommend business leaders and tech companies understand the overlaps between data sovereignty, information security, data protection, and the data localization custom and performant offerings that can be built. There are many synergies between these interrelated areas of cloud computing. For example, cloud computing can provide a secure underlying platform for data storage and processing. This can solve the issue of data sovereignty, security, and localization.

Some businesses have concerns about the security of data stored in the cloud, including the potential for unauthorized parties to access or misuse data, the lack of control over that data, and the potential for data to be moved to other jurisdictions without the user’s knowledge or consent. However, cloud services offer opportunities to address these issues.

For example, with the right underlying infrastructure in place, cloud providers can help organizations reduce downstream costs and increase efficiency, potentially allowing for more investments in security and digital fail-safes. They also can build dedicated infrastructure that meets industry-specific or location-specific needs, as well as the access and provisioning requirements of end users.

By making this type of customizable flexibility native to all offerings and providing them to users at an acceptable cost while ensuring uptime, security, performance, and safeguarded access, cloud providers continue to empower their users even in times of economic or political uncertainty.

Cloud computing provides the key to tech advances that will continue to impact how society interacts, and businesses operate. Rather than shy away from the challenges, businesses should embrace them. Finding solutions will open the door to even more breakthroughs in the ongoing cloud tech revolution.

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Tom Keane

21-year Microsoft Developer and Manager | Seattle, Washington