Not a fad: The Cloud ginormous & getting ginormous-er
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Not a Fad: The Cloud is Ginormous & Getting Ginormous-er

Ryan Kroonenburg
Ryan Kroonenburg

The economic impact of the U.S. cloud is now larger than the entire agriculture sector, a new IA report finds.

Everybody knows the cloud is a pretty big deal. But it’s tough to put your finger on just how big a deal it really is. Is cloud computing just a fad being promoted by insiders and evangelists? Or has it become a fundamental part of the greater technology landscape?

The good news: We’re getting better at answering those questions. And it turns out the cloud now represents a huge and growing chunk of the U.S. economy—in fact, it’s already about as big as “the agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting industries combined,” according to a new study.

Cloud-related economic activity has tripled in the past 15 years and supports “more than 2 million American jobs,” Internet Association (IA) researchers reported recently.

The cloud is now adding more than $214 billion to the country’s GDP, according to the report, which measured the size of the cloud in 2017. The researchers noted that the sector’s growth is showing no sign of slowing down, so that figure might be closer to $230-$240 billion in 2019 if the growth rate they measured remains consistent.

Suffice to say, the cloud is ginormous — and only getting bigger.

Just how big is the cloud?

To put some of the raw numbers in perspective, if the U.S. cloud had been its own country in 2017, it would have ranked 47th in the world in terms of GDP, just behind the Czech Republic.

If the cloud were a state, it would employ about as many people as there are working in South Carolina. In terms of job stability and compensation, a cloud career promises steady opportunities and salaries that rank among the highest in all of IT.

“The cloud’s rapid adoption has made significant contributions to the U.S. economy,” IA chief economist Christopher Hooton said in a statement. “Expanding our understanding of the cloud’s macroeconomic impacts is essential to ensuring it continues to be a major economic driver. The U.S. cloud sector now rivals the agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting industries combined and is growing every day.”

What’s driving the growth?

The simple answer is that “cloud technology is a fundamental part of the country’s Internet and economic systems,” according to IA director of cloud policy Alla Seiffert. “Commercial cloud solutions cut down operational costs, provide scaling flexibility, offer built-in cybersecurity solutions, and allow private and public sector entities of all sizes to keep up with the pace of innovation.”

In short, businesses and organizations today increasingly need cloud services to compete in their markets and fields. The cloud isn’t a fad — far from it. It’s every bit as vital to the technology roadmaps of companies as servers, laptops, and phones.

That’s great news for cloud-certified professionals, and the outlook is only growing rosier. Cloud technology has become intertwined with almost all growing IT sectors. That means that as other tech sectors expand, cloud services grow right along with them. In fact, more often than not, the cloud is driving that expansion and innovation in other fields.

Growing alongside the bleeding edge of tech

This dynamic applies to traditional IT products and services like processing power, operating systems, storage, networking, communications, and security. But the cloud has also expanded alongside newer, even faster growing technologies like virtualization, mobility, streaming content, and social media.

This all leads to a virtuous cycle: as cloud-dependent technologies grow, they need more cloud infrastructure and services to meet increased demand, which in turn helps them penetrate underserved parts of the market to generate even more demand, and so on.

If you want to get a better sense of what your certification path with A Cloud Guru will be like, check out our free 2-hour intro courses for Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform, and Microsoft Azure.

The best news for folks working on platforms like AWS, GCP, and Microsoft Azure? The cloud is poised to be just as integral to the development of the most cutting-edge, rapidly expanding areas of technology. At the bleeding edge of technology, the cloud isn’t just integral, it’s foundational. Think of some of the most exciting tech innovation happening today and it’s likely that you couldn’t even imagine it existing without the cloud.

We’re talking about areas like software-defined networking and serverless computing, which were literally invented by and for the cloud. Or machine learning, Big Data, and the Internet of Things, which leverage the cloud to harness and transmit massive amounts of data collected by sensors and computers to analyze so they can evolve smarter AIs. Or automation and robotics, which then apply those AIs to problems like self-driving cars and further rely on the cloud to constantly update their abilities in real time.

And as we look even further into the future, towards technologies like augmented reality and quantum computing, we see that the cloud is also fundamental in driving such tech towards practical applications.

Participation is just a walk in the cloud

If the cloud is just a fad, then computing must be a fad. Technology itself must be a fad.

But we bet you don’t think any of this is fleeting or overhyped. And if you’re looking to do meaningful work in the next big phase of tech progress, cloud certification offers the easiest point-of-entry — for what it will cost to get started, in terms of previous education and experience required, and the speed with which you can go from taking your first cloud course to making your living in the field.

New and exciting things are happening in technology each and every day. The cloud is both a foundational pillar supporting all of that progress and the glue holding all of its interlinking systems together.


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