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Cloud Computing Trends to Watch in 2012 (Part 1)

What will be the hot trends in 2012? We asked our readers to share their predictions in several key areas, and as expected, the hottest topic is cloud computing. We received so many responses that we will present the DCK readers' cloud predictions in two parts. Check back tomorrow for part two. Now, on to the predictions for cloud computing trends to watch in 2012!

Vineet Jain, Egnyte

Vineet Jain is CEO of Egnyte, a leading provider of hybrid cloud file server solutions.

1. Hybrid is the new black – and we’re not talking cars. The amorphous cloud has certainly laid its claim to our hearts and minds, but enterprises aren’t going to just jump ship. Like the hybrid car strategy of marrying the known with the new, enterprises will adopt hybrid clouds that maintain the benefits of traditional servers with the accessibility of public cloud.

2. Tablet meet the other Jobs – the ones we go to everyday. 2012 is going to be all about how those slick devices we already use to read the news and watch movies will shift to become real business tools. And guess what, it’s going to be executives, who by the way love them, who will drive their use in the workplace. When the person in charge sees how useful something can be, they’ll make sure it gets accepted.

3. Offshoring is out, on-shoring is in – because the right people to do the job are often right here in the United States. With cloud commuting on the rise, employers are going to realize they can on-shore jobs in Iowa or Idaho instead of looking to India or Ireland. Pay an engineer the local wage, leave them at home, give them access to the tools of a cloud commuter and it’s just like they’re working from the corporate office.

4. Freemium isn’t really free – because while the end user might not pay, there are enormous costs for businesses who have to support the patchwork of mediocre products designed only to solve one person’s problem, not solve an organizational problem. Not to mention the fact that it isn’t a sustainable business model -- designed only to pump up the numbers and give the appearance of size. Didn’t we learn from the first dot com bubble?

5. Cloud commuting... we dropped the “p” – because today's office doesn't have to be 4 walls and a water cooler. In fact, the cloud let's you sit in meetings, take calls, and read endless email strings you've been cc'd on just like you're in your cube. Between cheaper tablets / mobile devices, better productivity apps, easy internet access and acceptance of the cloud as a part of the corporate infrastructure, employers and employees can save corporations time, money and resources, with the added bonus of saving the world by staying off the roads.

Michael Crandell, RightScale

Michael Crandell is the CEO of RightScale, a leader in cloud computing management.

In the most transformative technology shift since the personal computer and the Internet, it’s apparent that migrating business to the cloud reached a tipping point in 2011, where it is no longer a trend, but rather an absolute business requirement. As a leader in the cloud, RightScale has a identified a few of the top trends on the horizon for 2012:

1. Step 2 Is Visibility. In 2011, companies realized that virtualization is only the halfway point and that a true cloud is automated, scalable and most importantly, API-driven. In 2012, enterprises must gain visibility into the entire lifecycle of cloud-based applications, from development to deployment to operations – and across multiple cloud providers and resource pools. That’s the true promise of cloud computing, and the only way to realize it is through multi-cloud management.

2. Multicloud Makes its Move: This year, true private clouds emerged as key complements to public clouds, and companies now have unprecedented choice among cloud infrastructure alternatives, including public, private and hybrid clouds. In fact, with RightScale, users have access to nine public clouds across the globe, and can also build private clouds with the help of RightScale’s three leading private cloud partners. Looking ahead, enterprises need to have better control of this cloud usage, without limiting the ease-of-use of cloud consumption – and that means offering self-service for users.

3. Standardization without standards. Today, the world of cloud workloads resembles the Wild West, where anything goes in terms of limitless builds and deployment options. In 2012, development and operations teams within companies need a shared management framework that both enables portability across APIs and provides dynamic configuration of standardized workloads in order to ensure that their cloud solutions will be easy to manage and maintain throughout their lifecycle.

Andi Mann, CA Technologies

Andi Mann is vice president of Strategic Solutions at CA Technologies, which provides IT management and cloud computing software and solutions.

Public Cloud ‘Gets’ Security
Sad but true - many (most?) enterprise decision-makers still do not trust public cloud. In 2012, it is essential that IT do a better job of deploying and explaining cloud security. Next year, CIOs will see security as less of a barrier to cloud adoption as organizations adopt more and better cloud-oriented security solutions - including solutions designed for complex hybrid cloud services, as well as solutions that are delivered through the cloud with easily-consumed Security SaaS options.

Public Cloud Adoption Will Slow
Despite anticipated progress in addressing public cloud security, there are other barriers (perceived or real) with compliance, service quality, skills, staffing, complexity, and good old politics that will put the brakes on public cloud adoption. Given the results of this year’s Longhaus research from Australia - an early adopter market and a bellwether for business technology - I suspect the world is in for a slowdown. It is unsure whether ‘cloud stall’ will be as pronounced as ‘virtual stall’ but I predict that in the coming year, we will generally see slower adoption rates.

Cloud Gets Heterogeneous
My last prediction is that the cloud will get heterogeneous. Not only will mainframe become part of the cloud landscape, but public cloud providers will also start to offer UNIX and maybe even other non-x86 platforms. I have recently seen this in action (CA did it internally years ago), and most large enterprises are heavily dependent on heterogeneous systems for their mission-critical applications. Despite the common myth that cloud = commodity servers, heterogeneous servers will start to become more available for large enterprise deployments.

Robert Jenkins, CloudSigma

Robert Jenkins is CTO of CloudSigma, an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) provider with operations in the U.S. and Europe.

There’s no doubt that the cloud has come a long way since it first became a viable form of computing. However, there is tremendous room for improvement in terms of flexibility in the cloud, particularly in terms of user control, resources and deployments:

  • User Control – Today, most IaaS providers closely manage companies’ cloud deployments and data, locking them into agreements that limit their data access, or even charge them a fee to remove their data. With flexibility demands on the rise, in 2012, providers will have to accommodate companies’ desire for complete data portability where they have access to and control over all of their data.
  • Resources – Unlike today’s typical bundled resources, in 2012, many cloud providers should come to realize the efficiencies of unbundled resources, allowing users to buy CPU, RAM and storage in the exact quantities they need. With such a system in place, companies can customize their resource purchasing without concerns of over provisioning.
  • Deployments – Currently, when migrating to the cloud, many companies are forced to change their operating system or software to accommodate the provider’s restrictions. In 2012, lifting restrictions on operating systems and application deployments will be something many providers will need to adopt as this will give enterprises not only the flexibility, but the confidence to move away from their proprietary infrastructure and into the cloud.

The cloud was initially conceived to be a more flexible, scalable and accessible IT environment. In order to stay aligned with that model in 2012 and beyond, restrictive cloud providers will need to strip away their limitations on resources, deployments and user control. Achieving a completely customizable and flexible IaaS platform will be a necessity in order to remain a viable public cloud option and meet customer demand.

Michael Keen, ASG Software

Michael Keen is the VP of PreSales at ASG Software Solutions.

In 2011, we saw countless articles on cloud computing, describing what it is, what it isn’t, its explosive growth, and its shortcomings and benefits. Having been able to digest all that information, CIOs in 2012 will finally come to realize that cloud computing goes well beyond the technology behind it. The cloud will become a new operational model for IT and a new resource for driving customer service, attaining faster time-to-market and gaining a competitive advantage in the overcrowded marketplace.

We’ll also see IT organizations begin to review cloud delivery models and conduct a thorough business impact analysis of those models to determine which one fits best in their company’s overall IT strategy. This will go hand-in-hand with a review of IT skill sets, since new technologies require different types of IT staff. With this new operational model, it is imperative that management get a good handle on the right people and processes.

Another big word for next year is data – both structured and unstructured. IT organizations will put a concerted effort in getting a handle on the data they own. In fact, we’ve already seen this trend start to gain momentum with the rapid rise of companies like Hadoop. The companies that are able to get a handle on this and leverage it to their advantage will be the leaders in their respective industries. IT organizations will work hard over the next year to use these new operational models and business intelligence to finally become a strategic partner to the business and not an inhibitor to innovation.

Roy Sanford, Stratus

Roy Sanford is Chief Marking Officer of Stratus Technologies of Maynard, Mass., a global company focused on providing customers with superior uptime assurance for their critical business operations and applications.

Though still in its infancy, cloud computing is already one of today’s biggest technology buzzwords. For countless Web sites, businesses and platforms, the cloud has become the enabler of our online experience. In 2012, cloud computing will be one of the most important and fast-paced technologies, and one particular area that will receive increased attention is inconsistency in quality of service in the cloud.

A common notion is that cloud service providers offer better uptime assurance than can be achieved internally. While this is probably true in some cases, “better” uptime assurance isn’t what businesses should strive for; they should work towards continuous uptime. Most companies and all cloud service providers that I’ve come across assume that failure in the cloud is inevitable, and their message to users is to get used to it. In reality, it’s inevitable that things do break, but failure is preventable. Building an infrastructure for failure recovery versus failure prevention is a complete mind-set change (like cloud computing) and a different approach to application support and infrastructure investment.

In 2011 we saw a major cloud provider experience a prolonged outage that severely hurt its customers’ businesses. Expectations for continuous uptime will continue to increase in 2012 as more applications are delivered this way. Businesses relying on the cloud will be forced to examine the technology they have in place to ensure that they can deliver uptime to their customers. With everything relying on servers, from smartphones to emergency rooms, 2012 will be the year in which scrutiny is turned on quality of service in the cloud and server uptime assurance.

Ed Laczynski, Datapipe Managed Hosting

Ed Laczynski is Datapipe’s Vice President of Cloud Architecture and Strategy. This is an edited version of Datapipe's predictions for 2012.

Mainstream adoption has established cloud computing as a vital part of Enterprise IT strategic planning. As the model evolves, the ability to meet the developing governance and security requirements of global businesses will be crucial in 2012. Datapipe predicts the following three trends will appear in 2012 as companies continue to turn to the cloud to safeguard valuable information:

Mainstreaming Continues - Everything “As a Service”
The movement toward mainstreaming the cloud has been validated by popular services from major consumer players and continues to grow the cloud share of technology spend. The need to qualify technology as “cloud” will start to disappear and be implicit in how quality services are sold and delivered to savvy customers.

Asian Markets To See Massive Expansion in Cloud Adoption
Regional businesses will leverage service providers with experience in mission critical IT services at scale, while businesses seeking to gain global market share will benefit from providers that have US and UK based operations to provide governance in this new frontier.

Cloud Security Will Be in the Forefront
Effective security services and vigilant governance will be required to avoid an eventual concentration of intentional – and unintentional – security breaches.

For more, check out part two of Cloud Computing Trends to Watch in 2012.

Photo by el diablo robotico (Jeffrey Bell) via Flickr.