2011: the cloud has landed

2011: the cloud has landed

Summary: Cloud became mainstream in 2011. Looking back, it's extraordinary to see how far we've come in the year.


Looking back on 2011, what stands out most of all is that the cloud became mainstream. Cloud computing even got its own Gartner hype cycle, and while some aspects of the technology are still deemed to be in the early wave of the cycle, others are far beyond any hype. Indeed, SaaS is so well established today that Gartner positions it firmly on the 'slope of enlightment', well on the way to achieving productive enterprise adoption. No wonder Oracle rushed to purchase RightNow as the year drew to a close, swiftly followed by SAP's acquisition of Successfactors.

The Year in Review, the Year AheadIt's extraordinary to look back at the predictions I made at the turn of the year to see just how far we've come. With hindsight, it seems self-evident that mobile and social would become core to enterprise software strategies, and yet a year ago, it was still a novelty to suggest either. The need to serve itinerant clients and tap into social information and activity streams has only served to reinforce the need for highly connected, cloud-centric computing stacks that are transforming the nature of enterprise software. It's all part of what I'm now calling the move from fixed to frictionless enterprise — the cloud in its widest sense is becoming a platform for the evolution of new, highly interactive, hyper-connected business models.

Many enterprises struggle with this new need to operate in a connected world, and so it's no surprise there have been many instances of cloud failure during the year. I predicted that many of these failures would be down to enterprises implementing the cloud badly, and there have certainly been few better illustrations of how not to run a cloud service than the example set by Sony. What has become obvious in the course of the year is that every enterprise has to be a public cloud provider in its dealings with customers, partners and employees (and indeed that Every SaaS provider runs a private cloud). If an enterprise is not prepared to rely on third-party infrastructure, then it has to invest in the skills and resources to do it well for itself.

There was a time when people used the term private cloud to describe IT infrastructure that follows cloud principles but is isolated from connections to the public Web. I believe that idea has been thoroughly discredited by now. As we learned earlier this year when it became known that RSA's security keys were thought to have been compromised, the security of what's inside your firewall is dependent on what goes on inside other people's firewalls. We are all interdependent, and it's not an option to cut yourself off entirely, because how then are you going to do business? The world is connected and burrowing through those connections comes software, as Marc Andreessen succinctly puts it, eating the world. If you're not connected, you're history.

As we move forward into 2012, that recognition of the pervasive nature of cloud technologies will engender a more mature attitude to cloud in the enterprise, one that aims to harness and manage both private and public cloud resources within a hybrid environment that leverages the best strengths of both. Cloud is no longer something ethereal and remote, but instead it touches and envelops every existing IT asset. Cloud has landed and must interact effectively with what's on the ground — and vice-versa.

Which brings me to the one unfulfilled prediction I made last year, that 'IT management gets wired to the cloud'. If enterprises are to adopt cloud successfully, then having reliable tools for cloud governance is essential.

Here are my ten must-read posts from the year:

Topics: Apps, Cloud, Data Centers, Emerging Tech, Enterprise Software, Software Development

Phil Wainewright

About Phil Wainewright

Since 1998, Phil Wainewright has been a thought leader in cloud computing as a blogger, analyst and consultant.

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  • If the cloud has landed, it would then be called fog

    which is appropriate, as the need or reliability of many of these offerings would be considered "foggy" at best.
    Tim Cook
  • The cloud is aptly named...

    like it's namesake it is simply vapor which can be used to mask lies -- it offers many promises but delivers nothing meaningful. No security. No reliability. No accountability. All it delivers is an ever-growing monthly bill. Just the way the providers like it.

    • How clouds happen


      Clouds occur when a massive quantity of hot air encounters a large body of cold liquid.

      As for example when a marketing department encounters a refridgerator full of cold beer. The marketing people "interact" with the beer and become "creative" (I believe this is the commonly accepted euphemism).
  • Private or public?

    I'm a bit confused. In the article, the private cloud was 'discredited.' Also in the article - we should 'harness and manage both private and public cloud resources within a hybrid environment that leverages the best strengths of both.'

    I agree with the second statement much more than the first. My ERP software company offers both private and public deployments. A private cloud involving outsourced IT/datacenters/server management can deliver economies of scale and significant price benefits. There are two reasons for this. First, with ERP there is significant installation and switching costs, so public cloud providers tend to raise prices when it's time to re-enroll. Secondly, the highly competitive hosting business provides cloud resources at a much lower cost than software companies turned hosting providers that run their own cloud.

    I could agree that running a private cloud on-premise may not make much sense ... but there are pelnty of exceptions. For example, a restaurant or a retail company would not want to rely on an Internet connection to create receipts and bills for on-premise customers. Other exceptions involve some government applications, bandwidth intensive applications, and business operations that depend on access to a database.
    Web Cloud
    • RE: 2011: the cloud has landed

      @Web Cloud The type of private cloud that is discredited is one that is designed to be disconnected. All clouds must be designed for connection and have to be architected on similar principles since in practice there is no difference between public cloud and private cloud, it depends on whether you're looking from the outside in or the inside out.
  • RE: 2011: the cloud has landed

    ???Jonathan Doe??? said it quite well: ??????like it's (sic) namesake it is simply vapor which can be used to mask lies -- it offers many promises but delivers nothing meaningful. No security. No reliability. No accountability. All it delivers is an ever-growing monthly bill. Just the way the providers like it.???

    What a lot of people are missing about ???cloud computing??? is the cost. Ignoring the reliability, potential of loss of service, data, etc. there is the fact that computing is going to cost you a lot more in the future. Take the classic example of Microsoft Windows XP. A lot of people bought it years ago and are still using it. I have seen estimates that at least half of all businesses are still using XP. Why? Because it???s paid for and continues to meet their needs. You pay one price for it and use it as long as you wish.

    But what will happen if companies switch to cloud computing? They will be paying a monthly fee. Every month. Forever. And when there is an upgrade, what happens? You get it and you pay for it ??? regardless whether you need it, use it or want it.

    This is like users of Windows XP being forced to buy for Vista, and then Windows 7, and then Windows 8, when XP still meets their needs. Microsoft loves this idea. They don???t have to advertise and sell their product, they only have to plug it into their cloud and then raise the price for everyone who will be forced to use it. And that is not necessarily for your good. Remember Vista???

    Of course, Microsoft is not the only one doing this. All the software and providers are delighting in the idea of locking businesses and people into their systems.

    Come on, people. Wake up!

  • RE: 2011: the cloud has landed

    sorry to say this is a lie companys are leaving the cloud big time you get hacked agin and again you all need to hear the news some time
  • In the future there will just be one big computer

    A credit in my account automatically generates a debit in the customer account and vice versa when a payment is made.

    Me and an accounting colleage invented this idea almost 20 years ago.

    The only question is who will run this computer?
  • RE: 2011: the cloud has landed

    ___ @jorwell ___
    The one who will run this PC is Orson Wells,.. from his grave. . . in the cloud.
    (LOL - Couldn't help making a pun out of it.)
    If it's anything like Obama-care, we'll be forced to pay into it, EVERY MONTH, THE REST OF OUR LIVES. or until we're no longer needed and we'll be "unplugged" to wither away, let die.
    Some century in the future if one is not in the mainstream we'll be left on "A" planet to do meager work while those who have money and/or status will "gallop the galaxy".
  • RE: 2011: the cloud has landed

    It's well to keep in mind that many enterprises are investing (and have invested) in private clouds. They like the architecture, but aren't prepared to put their data and processes on the public cloud.

    Phil Wainewright is right when he says that private clouds need to be open to public clouds, in a hybrid environment. Isolation is not a choice. And companies need to communicate with their customers, contractors, and suppliers -- using a public or semi-private (a private cloud with invited users from outside the company)cloud.

    This means the big issue for 2012 will be interoperability -- being able to move data and workloads from one cloud to another. Some standards are required to help customers move from isolated private clouds to taking advantage of everything they need in the cloud network.
    • Interoperability


      Of course the physical aspects of interoperability are trivial (we've had TCP/IP and HTTP for quite a while now).

      What tends to get brushed over in the nebulous enthusiasm is that the really hard part is if two businesses actually mean the same thing when they use the same word? As far as I am concerned a customer is someone or some company who has already placed a order, as far as you are concerned it might be anyone in the Customer Relationship Management system (including sales leads that no one has called yet).

      Syntax and technology are easy, clear and unambiguous communication is the hard part - and cannot be automated, you have to do the work up front.