Just in case you’ve thought that spending on public-cloud offerings will level off at some point soon, a new report from research firm IDC is here to put those concerns to rest. Worldwide spending on public cloud services such as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) will hit $122.5 billion this year, an increase of 24.4 percent over last year, according to the firm. By 2020, spending could hit $203.4 billion worldwide. "In 2017, discrete manufacturing, professional services, and banking will lead the pack in global spending on public cloud services as they look for greater scalability, higher performance, and faster access to new technologies," Eileen Smith, program director for IDC’s Customer Insights and Analysis, wrote in a statement accompanying the data. "Combined, these three industries will account for one third of worldwide public cloud services spending, or $41.2 billion." Specifically, IDC thinks that professional services will enjoy a 23.9 percent CAGR (compound annual growth rate) over the next five years, followed by retail (22.8 percent CAGR), media (22.5 percent CAGR), and telecommunications (22.1 percent CAGR). The United States will represent the biggest market for public cloud services. IDC is similarly rosy about the cloud’s ability to evolve. “The cloud will become more distributed (through Internet of Things edge services and multicloud services), more trusted, more intelligent, more industry and workload specialized, and more channel mediated,” Frank Gens, senior vice president and chief analyst at IDC, wrote in a second statement. But evolution also brings some spectacular challenges. Despite its early promise, the Internet of Things (IoT) has raised some severe security and privacy issues. Companies that decide to make the leap into the public cloud will also need to figure out how to successfully migrate their data to a new environment with a minimum of interruption and loss. Governments must ensure that any use of the public cloud aligns with rules and regulations. For many tech professionals, adoption of the public cloud should translate into an accompanying rise in job opportunities over the next few years. Even if the market doesn’t exactly align with IDC’s predictions, the cloud is only getting more prevalent with each passing year.