The cloud market in 2012: Through the eyes of experts

Do your enterprise cloud plans align with industry strategies? What cloud developments can we expect in 2012? Our experts predict on this year's cloud landscape.

SearchCloudComputing.com staff asked our contributors to share their thoughts on the year ahead. In this round-up,

we asked our cloud experts these two questions:

  1. What changes can we expect in the cloud computing market in 2012?
  2. Which cloud vendors will be the big winners of 2012?

So now that we’ve swept up all the glitter and confetti, put away the noisemakers and broken most of our New Year’s resolutions, let’s take a look at what possible ups and downs lie ahead for the cloud computing industry.

Bill Claybrook, cloud market expert BILL CLAYBROOK
Mobile computing will become an important driver in the cloud, along with cost reductions for private clouds. The large amount of data that will be created from the use of mobile devices and mobile cloud in corporations will increase the use of data deduplication and data compression technologies. Security will become more of an issue in cloud computing, moving beyond the security concerns of public cloud and into private cloud. Security monitoring tools that detect when intruders have been attacking private clouds will be on the upswing.

As for market leaders, Eucalyptus Systems and its offerings will be a big winner in 2012. Eucalyptus is much less costly than VMware, and the commercial cloud product supports most of the Amazon EC2 APIs. Eucalyptus also fits easily on top of a VMware virtualization environment. The company has doubled its employee count.

OpenStack, the open source software used to build public and private clouds, is probably still two years away from being ready to use in the enterprise and by service providers. VMware will be a leader because it is still the most innovative company in the virtualization/cloud area. It is also among the first to focus on the advent of mobile cloud computing.

Abiquo, a small open source-based company that develops cloud management products that allow a single console to manage both private and public clouds, will have a good year. Finally, I don’t see Red Hat and Microsoft being big winners in 2012 specifically in the cloud market. However, both companies will do well because of their domination in the Linux and Windows markets, respectively.

Roger Jennings, cloud expert ROGER JENNINGS
Big data grew legs in late 2011 with major cloud providers offering beta versions of Apache Hadoop and MapReduce implementations, most of which will mature to fully supported products in 2012.

Microsoft’s SQL Server team announced the availability of Community Technology Preview (CTP) of a Hadoop-based service on Windows Azure as a private preview. The CTP includes a Hive add-in and Hive ODBC Driver to connect with the Azure-based Hadoop service, as well as a JavaScript library for writing MapReduce programs. The Hive ODBC Driver lets analysts work with PowerPivot and PowerView tools, while the Hive add-in for Excel enables issuing Hive queries and manipulating Hadoop results in Excel.

Big data grew legs in late 2011 with major cloud providers offering beta versions of Apache Hadoop and MapReduce implementations, most of which will mature to fully supported products in 2012.

Roger Jennings

Microsoft’s SQL Azure Labs also released a private CTP of Codename Data Explorer, which is designed to discover syndicated big data sets from the Widows Azure Marketplace Datamarket, formerly codenamed “Dallas.” Data Explorer lets analysts link information of interest with structured and unstructured Web resources in custom mashups. The CTP offers a prebuilt Data Explorer desktop client with a workspace and Office plug-in for Excel.

In addition, the SQL Azure Labs team released a trial version of Codename Social Analytics, which enables initial users to analyze real-time Twitter streams of tweets about Bill Gates or Windows 8 for quantitative “buzz” and user sentiment.

The Social Analytics Engagement client is based on Microsoft Research’s QuickView advanced search service and sentiment analysis technology. Sentiment analysis has been on Microsoft Research’s radar for many years. Its eXtreme Computing Group (XCG) released a public CTP of the Daytona MapReduce runtime for Windows Azure project in July 2011. Daytona competes with Amazon Web Service's Elastic Map Reduce, Apache Foundation's Hadoop Map Reduce, MapR's Apache Hadoop distribution and Cloudera Enterprise Hadoop.

With all this big data analytics activity occurring at the end of 2011, it’s a safe bet that at least a few of these and similar offerings from Microsoft’s competitors will release to the Web in early 2012.

Bill Kleyman, cloud market expert BILL KLEYMAN
Cloud technology will continue to evolve and expand. One of the biggest advances will be the availability of software that allows companies to fully manage their own private and public clouds. Similar tools used by Amazon EC2 will be available to the general market to install and use.

One of the biggest advantages of cloud technologies is the ability to consolidate entire data centers while still delivering workloads to users. Bring your own device (BYOD) will also see a bigger push in 2012, as many organizations see the clear benefits in cost savings and device management of allowing end users to bring their own devices into the enterprise.

IT managers and administrators will need to update their skill sets to fully understand how data is traveling within the cloud. IT staffs will need to apply WAN optimization methods and other efficiency techniques to achieve maximum throughput and the best performance for the end user. And even though cloud computing shares characteristics with existing environments, it has very stark differences. Cloud managers will need to have a better grasp of distributed computing, how data lives in the cloud and how to best use cloud technologies so they benefit the organization.

Cloud computing has several positives: disaster recovery, consolidation, test and development, ease of application and workload delivery, among others. It will be up to developers and admins to understand how to reap these benefits and how each technology will interact with a company's existing IT infrastructure.

There are a few companies that come to mind as winners in 2012. Citrix recently purchased Cloud.com and are now offering CloudStack implementations, which bring public cloud technology down to the end user. Already leaders in private cloud technologies, Citrix and VMware are leading the way with VDI and will continue to be powerful vendors in 2012 as they continue to expand on their offerings. Technologies like identity federation, seamless application/desktop delivery over the cloud and bring your own device (BYOD) will play a big role in how well Citrix and VMware perform in 2012.

Cisco, HP, Dell and any major hardware vendor pushing unified computing architecture will do well. Fast hardware provisioning and efficient resource use are big factors with cloud environments. Since we are consolidating data centers, we have to use our precious resources to their best capabilities. With unified architecture, we’re not wasting dollars on extra networking, throughput or server technologies. The unified infrastructure is quickly becoming the hardware of choice for emerging cloud data centers and environments.

Tom Nolle, cloud market expert TOM NOLLE
Expect cloud plans to begin targeting the largest dollar market opportunity rather than the easiest and lowest "apples" in terms of applications. That means more focus on Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS), volume data pricing plans and services that involve cooperation between in-data center appliances and the cloud to facilitate easier work and data migration in hybrid cloud examples. Pricing is going to fall overall, too, and that means buyers will have to watch their providers carefully to ensure that they're in the cloud business for the long term. Startups in the cloud space will be looking to be acquired, making them companies to watch.

The big vendor winners will be the players with the deepest pockets.

Tom Nolle

The big vendor winners will be the players with the deepest pockets. First, cloud computing is an economy-of-scale game, and so you need to build plenty of scale to be competitive. That means a big capital budget -- something major players can expect to have but not smaller ones.

Bigger players can do better deals on the network connection side. The largest dollar pool of opportunity in the cloud is going to require high-performance, high Quality-of-Service VPN connection between the cloud provider and users, so big players and network service providers will be preferred. In addition, margins for cloud services are going to fall considerably under competitive price pressure, and that is a situation in which only the strong can survive.

Greg Shields, cloud expertGREG SHIELDS
We’ll see a change in attitude. The IT industry is slowly realizing that cloud services are a viable option for certain uses. In 2012, IT’s attitude toward the cloud’s delivery model will continue the shift away from irrational fear and toward finding its fit.

Dan Sullivan, cloud market expertDAN SULLIVAN
In 2012, we are going to see more emphasis on data and analytics in the cloud. The growing interest we have seen in Apache Hadoop will continue in 2012, especially as Microsoft incorporates it into SQL Server 2012 and Windows Azure. The MapReduce model used in Hadoop is well adapted for many big data analysis, tasks but it is just one example of a distributed functional programming pattern.

As more developers learn to take advantage of clusters of servers in the cloud, we will see more use of programming languages designed for concurrency and some level of support for functional programming, particularly Scala, Clojure and Erlang. The popularity of the open source statistical platform R, which brings a wide array of statistical and data mining tools needed to find useful information in growing volumes of data, will continue to grow.  

Companies that support data and analytics in the cloud will have a good year. Cloudera’s offerings streamline the use of Hadoop; Revolution Analytics has taken open source R and added scalability features that will make it more useful in the cloud. Heroku and other platform providers reduce the management overhead that comes with working directly with servers, allowing developers to do what they do best: Write code.

This was first published in January 2012

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