7 Salient Trends and Directions in Cloud Computing
Cloud computing is a rapidly evolving field and as more enterprises join the platform, new trends are emerging. In this post, I will cover the major trends in cloud computing for the immediate future (2012-14).
Cloud storage goes mainstream in consumer segment.
While cloud based storage services such as the Dropbox have existed for a while, they have not captured the mainstream “mom & pop” users. The problems include small storage limits (2 GB in case of free Dropbox accounts), requirement of separate apps to install, weak integration with the file systems, small size and marketing budgets of the storage companies (the maarket leader, Dropbox is still a startup) etc.
However, that will change this year. Microsoft, Google and Apple are now entering the consumer cloud storage segment in a big way. Apple and Microsoft provide deep support for their cloud storage platforms iCloud and Skydrive respectively, in the upcoming OS releases of OSX Mountain Lion and Windows 8. By making it a part of the OS, the users will have less friction adopting the cloud storage services. Not to be left behind, Google is finally launching its G-Drive project this month that will give the others a run for their money.
Given the brand recognition with the consumers and the ownership of the major platforms (OSX, iOS, Android, Windows Phone and Windows) between the 3 biggies, it is to be expected that cloud storage finally becomes the norm in consumer market.
Mobile cloud become a significant component of the IT strategy.
Mobile devices are getting increasingly smart and the arrival of tablets are creating new avenues of computing usage, every day. However, the mobile gadget’s processors and battery reserves are not sufficient to run most enterprise class applications. Given the fact that the mobile devices can be lost or broken easily, it becomes imperative to store the critical data in the cloud. This is leading to a greater push in the mobile cloud strategy for many enterprises, where the computing and storage will be in the cloud, while the presentation will be in the device. You can read more about this in my earlier post on mobile computing trends.
Hybrid clouds become practical.
Public clouds allow the reduction of CapEx and provides greater flexibility, while private clouds provide better performance and security. Hybrid clouds concept is a marriage of both and can theoretically give you the best of both worlds. This would require part of the infrastructure in the private cloud, while the public cloud will be used for traffic spike and processing less sensitive data. You can learn more about the hybrid clouds here.
While the hybrid cloud concept is great it has never caught on in enterprises. This is primarily due to the unavailability of management infrastructure that can manage private cloud and public cloud infrastructure together. However, as more integration tools are emerging it is possible that we might finally see hybrid clouds emerge as a major trend in the next 2 years.
Evolution of the Cloud Services Brokers.
As the cloud services get increasingly complex and more of the enterprise needs need to be satisfied by cloud computing solutions, enterprises need cloud service brokers who will liaison between the enterprise and the providers, and help in developing the right providers and cloud strategy that fits the demands of the enterprise.
New applications and architectures are to be made with cloud-centric design.
Even though some of the modern applications are designed with the cloud in mind, still the vast majority of apps are not designed to leverage the cloud’s benefits to the full extent. Now, the enterprises are demanding more from their application developers and in the nearby future a big chunk of enterprise applications will transition to the cloud. IBM, Microsoft, SAP, Oracle and Salesforce.com are all active in moving more apps to the cloud.
Formal decision framework for making business decisions related to the cloud.
Migrating to the cloud is as much a technology decision, as it is a business decision. There are trade-offs involves, including lesser control, bigger security vulnerability surface area and higher OpEx with the cloud migration. Thus, moving to the cloud and picking the right strategy has to be made with a strong understanding of the enterprise’s business model. However, we don’t have a formal decision making framework to enable the enterprises to pick the direction in a more objective way. That is changing as Gartner is predicting in the just released report on this subject.
Data centers become primarily cloud focused.
While some of the computing infrastructure providers, such as Rackspace and Amazon, are fully focusing on the cloud computing segment, I expect more datacenters to launch cloud solutions with each hosting provider having at least one viable cloud solution. A large number of enterprises are planning to migrate to the public and hybrid clouds in the nearby future and this will bring newer models and newer players in the cloud services segment. We could hope to see richer service offerings with more cloud centric datacenters.
By Balaji Viswanathan