I do believe 2012 is going to be an exciting year for cloud computing, and there are many who share this belief, too.
Forrester’s US Tech Market Outlook for 2012, published in late December 2011, is optimistic about how much cloud computing will grow this year, estimating that sales for four leading vendors will increase by 23% in Q1, and will then grow 24% quarter-on-quarter until the year’s end. Although those figures are based on a small slice of the cloud computing industry as a whole, they show great confidence in cloud technology, especially in a year which is likely to see further economic turmoil.
Forrester believes that growth in the cloud computing sector will outpace growth in the software market. This reflects the fact that a significant number of companies will be switching their IT budgets from traditional spend towards strategic cloud investments. Many IT directors have been challenged to ‘do more with less’ for years, and cloud technologies could enable them to cut their operational costs, assuming they can ride out the hump that comes with the project costs of implementing cloud.
This time last year, there was a lot excitement about the cloud. In some cases this translated into movement towards cloud projects. However, in many cases perceived barriers limited adoption. Security is one of the top concerns. Many companies are used to having their data in their own data centres where they can “see” it, so tucking it away out of sight is worrying for them.
It imposes a huge burden on operators to demonstrate they deserve the trust that their clients must have in them. There are some unresolved legal issues too. The idea of using a 3rd party data centre to host your data has been around as long as the internet, but it didn’t matter so much when it was mostly public-facing web pages. Once the core data of your business goes into the cloud, perhaps in a foreign jurisdiction, it raises real questions about what privacy and disclosure regime applies to it.
All of these barriers are surmountable, though. A radio programme recently mentioned that it is 15 years since internet banking came to the UK. A lot of people were extremely nervous about it, with some justification. However, history shows that the IT industry can solve security problems and inspire trust, and it will do so again for the cloud. There’s a lot of fear of the dark, but technology solutions already out there, and those in development, can provide the appropriate light. There are wider technology challenges to resolve too, including standardisation, but bodies such as the Open Data Center Alliance (ODCA) are working hard to resolve these.
Will 2012 be the year of the cloud? Certainly the promise of a cloud revolution seems a reality.