Cloud computing is no longer the curiosity it was a few years ago. Today companies are increasingly looking to cloud computing as an integral component of their computing strategy. The rationale is clear. Companies now understand that cloud computing offers the possibility of being able to more to seamlessly change IT without having the time and expense of setting up, configuring, and deploying new systems. Many companies are discovering that it is much easier to experiment and innovate with cloud computing than with traditional computing models.
But as with any emerging area it is too soon to declare victory. Cloud computing is complicated in many ways. While 2011 was the year when cloud computing took its place as a legitimate strategy, 2012 will be the year when companies need to tackle operational issues of cloud computing. Therefore, I am predicting five big trends for cloud in 2012.
Big Trend #1. Cloud Service Management becomes a requirement for adoption.
It is becoming apparent that companies will not adopt a single cloud deployment model, but rather will use a combination of various public cloud services (including Software as a Service, Infrastructure as a Service, and Platform as a Service), private cloud services as well as their traditional computing environment. This is especially true for companies in the mid-market and even large enterprises. The ability to manage this hybrid environment will be the difference between success and failure. 2012 will be the year when customers start to plan and implement a service management strategy for the cloud.
Big Trend #2. Cloud Security expands to encompass privacy, compliance, and governance.
Company executives have been worrying about cloud security ever since Amazon began offering public cloud services. While there are a variety of opinions about how secure various cloud services are, there has not been a consistent best practice related to cloud security. That is changing for 2012. This will be the year when IT and business management will begin to deal with the subtleties of setting rules and processes--which clouds to use under which circumstances. For example, open cloud communities with little security and no governance will be of limited value for companies that have to comply with industry and governmental requirements. On the other hand, there is an emerging segment of public cloud offerings intended for companies that want a higher level of security and governance. Increasingly, organizations are looking to private clouds when governance needs to be strictly enforced.
Big Trend #3. The Service Level Agreement becomes a key buying criterion.
While the idea of a service level agreement is not new, it is not well understood in the context of cloud computing. One of the most important changes I expect in 2012 is that companies will be taking a much harder look at the way cloud service providers provide SLAs for their services. While all cloud computing providers offer a contractual service level agreement, most are written to protect the vendor rather than the customer. In 2012, customers will begin demanding Service Level terms based on their governance and customer requirements.
Big Trend #4. Corporate management turns attention to security of Big Data.
Companies are beginning to adopt technologies that enable them to manage and analyze huge volumes of data from many different sources. As attention to Big Data expands in 2012, so will the concerns about protecting both the security and integrity of this composite data source.
Big Trend # 5. The new definition of the computing environment changes customer expectations.
While organizations have always been concerned about the performance of their customer facing environments, the advent of hybrid cloud computing models will add to the level of urgency. There is a difference between the level of control that IT had over the data center and the control of a hybrid environment that includes public and private cloud services (some Software as a Service applications, capacity on demand for peak times, etc.). Companies will demand the ability to monitor and measure performance from the customer experience perspective.
Judith Hurwitz is the president and CEO of Hurwitz & Associates, a strategy consulting and research firm focused on distributed computing technologies.
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