Cloud predictions for enterprise IT in 2012

You don’t need a crystal ball to know where cloud is heading in 2012. I see more widespread cloud adoption, vendor wars and Olympics in our future.

Ask around and you’ll hear it over and over again: Enterprise IT shops are worried about using the cloud. They’re concerned about the security, privacy and governance risks of moving their data and applications outside their four walls. Cloud vendor lock-in and job security are also major worries for these guys, though few IT pros will admit to the latter.  

Next year will be no different. But instead of keeping the cloud at arms’ length, which many enterprise IT shops have done this year, 2012 will be the year for taking the plunge. If you’ve been sitting on the fence, here are some thoughts on what to expect next year that might push you over the edge. 

Instead of keeping the cloud at arms’ length ... 2012 will be the year for taking the plunge.

The following are my predictions based on current trends and where I see them leading us. Just some observations; I have no crystal ball.

Cloud hype ends, disillusion begins
After several years of megalomania, cloud vendors finally settle down and stop trying to prove cloud computing is real. Enterprise IT gets it: We’re looking at the next model for IT delivery and consumption. The adoption process becomes a long-term “roadmap” and a slow and safe transition touching every part of the business. It’s going to be a bumpy road.  Watch out for the vendors with professional services arms who are rubbing their hands together with glee, claiming to you show you the way forward. And channel guys: Your time is now!   

Private clouds create more headaches
To build a private cloud you have to build Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), and a component of that is self-service automation. But how do you architect and govern this? Can anyone jump on your portal and start knocking out virtual machines (VMs)? How do you control access and manage assets and ownership? And who in his right mind actually wants chargeback and billing for IT resources? Does that mean you have to give back the budget you saved?

All these tedious procedural changes still are not as scary as the nasty potential for security breaches in the public cloud, so enterprises will keep going with private clouds until public clouds become less frightening. Job protectionism is at play here, too.

Hybrid cloud gets real
Tightly integrated public and private cloud infrastructure becomes possible in 2012, and many enterprises will try it. VMware just released vCloud Connector 1.5, which lets users running workloads on internal VMware infrastructure slide all or part of those workloads into a leased public cloud running the same infrastructure. With the lions’ share of the enterprise virtualization market, VMware is best positioned to push this hybrid cloud model into the enterprise.

IaaS wars: AWS vs. VMware vs. OpenStack
And the winner is? We won’t find out in 2012. Amazon will make gazillions more revenue from cloud computing services than anyone else next year, but VMware and OpenStack public clouds will start to nip at its heels, especially as enterprise IT heads into cloud.

Consumerization of IT and cloud converge
The bring your own trend entering the workplace is changing the economics of IT by shifting IT assets from inside the data center, outside, to the cloud -- whether it’s apps like Salesforce.com, Dropbox, WebEx or Google Analytics or devices like smartphones and tablets. Figuring out the total cost of ownership and management for these new modes of IT consumption will keep forward-looking CIOs on their toes in 2012.

Expect more cloud security challenges
There will be security breaches in public clouds, but nothing will be big enough to kill the shift toward this model of computing. There will be no standards next year for security or SLAs. Standards development organizations move slowly. The best we have to go on is the recent guidelines from NIST.

SaaS dominates the technology market now, and in 2012, if you still haven’t outsourced your email, you are well behind the times.

On-premises email becomes archaic
Software as a Service (SaaS) dominates the technology market now, and in 2012, if you still haven’t outsourced your email, you are well behind the times. Vendors that provide integration tools to connect on-premises apps with cloud apps, like Dell Boomi, will soar next year.

Windows 8 is released
But nobody cares that much as we get tired of watching Microsoft struggle to drag its legacy customer base into the cloud.

London hosts the Olympic Games 
London hosts the Olympic Games for the third time -- the most of any Olympic host city in history. The two-week event takes place amid the largest security operation ever seen in peace-time Europe. The event is awesome, passes without incident and begins a transformation that will make London once again the greatest city on Earth. This last item has nothing to do with cloud computing, but it will be something to which millions are glued next year.

And in case you missed it, this list does not include anything on Platform as a Service (PaaS) or big data, as these trends have been well documented and do not affect our core audience of IT infrastructure and operations pros.

Jo Maitland is Senior Executive Editor of SearchCloudComputing.com.

This was first published in November 2011

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