New Disney service stores movies in the cloud

The ability to access content anywhere, on any device, is increasingly important to consumers, and like other media companies, Disney is focusing efforts on digital distribution. On Tuesday, the company launched Disney Movies Anywhere , a service that allows consumers to buy Disney movies through iTunes as well as through the service’s own website and app. Ultimately, Disney plans to include other partners outside of iTunes to expand availability.

HR in the cloud

Businesses are using cloud to improve business outcomes across a range of business functions–including HR. A recent article from Baseline details the way Chiquita recently developed a cloud-based solution for talent management. With 21,000 employees, the company needed to be able to make faster hiring decisions with a single HR system that could be regularly updated. The new cloud-based solution offers that and more, including applications for employees, tighter security, and more free time for IT to focus on innovation.

Visa expanding mobile payment options

On Tuesday, Visa announced new mobile payment options for clients and partners. The offer follows a new Host Card Emulation (HCE) feature for Android operating systems, which allows smartphone users to make payments with any NFC app. Financial institutions will be able to issue and host Visa accounts in the cloud, and clients will experience new flexibility in their mobile payment options. Recent security breaches at Target are still top of mind for consumers, and Visa has outlined a “mutli-layered defense” strategy to assuage the public’s fears.

Cloud adoption rates continue to grow

A new report from IHS Technology predicts that global spending for cloud services will reach $174.2 billion by the end of 2014, and that number will swell to $235.1 billion by 2017. As more and more businesses move to the cloud, consumer behavior, business models, and application development will change–and firms that refine their processes to address these shifts will likely reap the most rewards from the cloud.

Bypassing IT

A new survey conducted by 2nd Watch reveals that 61% of US-based companies are bypassing their own IT departments and moving independently into the cloud. This “shadow IT” trend points to the challenges IT departments face in delivering cloud services. What does this mean for the IT function and for companies looking to move core processes to the cloud? Read more about the survey and its implications here .

Netflix announced yesterday that they are actively pursuing use of artificial neural networks to leverage computing power in the cloud. Though Netflix acknowledges that “most of the algorithmic techniques used in the trendy Deep Learning approaches have been known and available for some time,” recent innovations have made real-world application possible. Ultimately, Netflix plans to use the large-scale neural network training system to improve product performance–improving user experience along the way.

Be sure to check in over the next few weeks–an animated video that highlights the most important findings of our research is on the way.

ZDNet Asia’s recent cloud priorities survey found that 2/3 of Asian businesses are using the cloud—a number that will go up in the coming year. Nearly a quarter and 19%, respectively, report plans to deploy IaaS and PaaS for the first time in 2014, while those who have already deployed these services will push for increased use.

While some industries like financial services and healthcare still hit regulatory roadblocks on the way to cloud adoption, even they are realizing benefits from cloud.  Businesses in Asia—and around the world—are overwhelmingly turning to cloud platforms to achieve competitive advantage.