Adoption of cloud computing has been growing rapidly over the past decade, and soon a tipping point will be reached, with use of cloud computing for application software, infrastructure software, business process services and system infrastructure overtaking traditional on-premises technology options within the next two or three years.
Recent events such as the enforced shift to hybrid working have generated further momentum behind cloud services, and as cloud offerings continue to mature and evolve, it's likely that adoption will continue to expand.
That's because cloud computing has some obvious advantages. Those include the ability to scale services almost infinitely based on demand without the need to buy or maintain expensive hardware, and the ability to take advantage of new applications without having teams of engineers on the payroll to deploy and manage them.
But the switch to cloud computing also brings new challenges. And the biggest worry for many is security.
It's true that one of the key advantages of the cloud for businesses is the opportunity to turn their systems and data over to a cloud company with dedicated experts working to keep their systems secure. That's certainly the case with software as a service (SaaS), which for many businesses takes away the worries and headaches around patching and maintaining software on their own servers.
But that doesn't mean businesses can forget about security after moving to the cloud.
Reaping the full benefits of cloud computing means using more than one cloud company, with data and workloads moving between a company's own data centre and the cloud, or between different clouds.
While the move to cloud computing may have removed some basic security worries, the emergence of the hybrid cloud has introduced a whole new set. Those range from securing staff access to services, ensuring that data is encrypted and not left accidentally exposed to other cloud users, and making sure that data stays safe when moving between applications and cloud services. No two cloud services are exactly the same, and the risks increase as the use of cloud computing expands to new areas.
This cloud computing security special report from ZDNet looks at some to the key issues and shows how cloud security is evolving. Moving to the cloud creates opportunities, but don't ignore the security challenges.