In my previous posting I referenced some Forrester Research that took an optimistic position on cloud growth during 2012. In this post, I’m going to drill down a bit further and explain why 2012 is set to be a year of advancement for cloud technologies and some of the issues that will come to the fore.
The past few years have seen cloud computing increasingly accepted as a form of service delivery. From the user’s point of view it provides services ‘on-tap’ and enables a nimble dexterity that galvanises business operations.
Given the current economic climate, cloud adoption is set to increase because it requires less capital and operational expenditure. In fact, you might say this could be the year of the cloud service provider. It’s a time of opportunity for service providers as companies and organisations look for ways of battening down the financial hatches.
Small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) will lead the charge into the public cloud by taking advantage of office apps, and email, delivered remotely. We will also likely see a growth in complete cloud desktop offerings too, which comprise all the services, and bespoke apps, that SMBs use.
Although the public sector has sometimes been seen as slow to adopt new technologies, ongoing austerity is nurturing increasingly adaptive approaches. The UK government already has a ‘G-cloud framework’ in place with a view to slashing the cost of government IT. The US government is already driving a ‘cloud first’ policy and I expect this trend to be also followed in the European Union.
At the enterprise level, the continued transition to private clouds will gather pace. Automation and orchestration will become central foci as private cloud infrastructures are built out and the need to manage the utilisation of internal cloud infrastructures and balance usage of external services becomes increasingly important.
Certainly, the mobile cloud is going to come more into the foreground. At this year’s CES, Technicolor, a leading content distribution company, announced a strategic relationship with Intel, through the launch of M-GO, a service that combines movies, music, apps and live TV in a single cloud-based location. We can expect more of this.
It’s important to remember that not all devices are made equal; CPU power, battery life, display/graphics capability, bandwidth capability and so on can differ widely. Cloud content delivered to devices needs to be appropriate to the client’s capacity.
Of course, with all of this continued movement to cloud infrastructures bandwidth is going to become an increasingly important issue. It’s all well and good to leverage the value of the cloud, but if the plumbing can’t carry the data loads it could become problematic. The bandwidth gates need to be able to handle data transmission to and from the cloud and at the precise time that it’s needed, without data jitter or time lapses.
Mobile bandwidth also has the potential to limit the use of mobile clouds. We’re already seeing this issue play out among mobile phone providers as data caps and excess usage charges are the norm. It would be interesting to see how this has affected mobile phone usage because this dynamic will certainly be replayed in some form in the mobile cloud space.
This also ties in with data storage questions that organisations will have to answer. If anything, the cloud is driving the availability of a growing mass of unstructured data especially from social networks and emails. Data management solutions are available to deal with these issues; the important thing for companies is defining what they want to do with the data, what to permit and circumscribe, what’s important and what isn’t. In fact, analysis of this data to drive business decisions is going to becoming increasingly important, not only this year, but in the following years too.
And let’s not forget privacy and policy concerns that are becoming an increasingly hot topic in the European Union. Organisations will need to factor into their planning, legislation that is coming out of the European Union. The legislation is aimed at introducing sweeping data protection measures that applies to all of Europe and companies that are operating within its territories. These new laws will drastically alter how companies collect data, for example, among other measures they will have to tell users why they are collecting data and how long it is being stored on servers.
I believe 2012 will see some significant advancements in cloud adoption, driven in part by adverse economic conditions with SMBs in particular leading the charge, and service providers rising to the challenges. Of course, there are issues around bandwidth, data protection and technical areas but as clouds develop these will be addressed. Interesting times lie ahead.