Cloud Activity Is Heating Up

Arthur Cole
Slide Show

Occupy the Cloud! Five Trends that Show There's No Need to Wait

Five trends indicate there's no need to protest moving mission-critical data into the cloud.

The cloud is quickly making the transition from exotic architecture to run-of-the-mill enterprise infrastructure, a process that at once offers great promise as well as great confusion as to the nature of future data environments.

The latest numbers come from Synergy Research Group, which this week issued a report showing that cloud technology sales exceeded $17 billion in the first half. While equipment to build public clouds pulled more than half of the market, private clouds showed faster growth of some 30 percent. To date, all of the top enterprise vendors seem well-positioned to capitalize on the cloud, with HP, IBM, Dell, Cisco and Oracle carving up nearly 70 percent of the market.

Like all previous movements before it, the rapid uptake of cloud technology poses challenges as well as opportunities. In the mad rush to put something, anything, onto the cloud, many organizations lose sight of the fact that technology is only as effective as your ability to manage it. By its nature, the cloud places a lot of control in the hands of the end user, which is why cloud governance should be a key component of any deployment strategy, according to ZDNet's Phil Wainewright. Without it, you run the risk of simply duplicating your current siloed architecture with equally isolated and poorly managed clouds.

Naturally, when interest runs high, venture capital is not far to follow. In the case of the cloud, this is leading to renewed interest in Web-based start-ups like Jive Software and Splunk Inc., according to The Wall Street Journal. Cloud-based business-to-business firms are suddenly hot properties, generating some $1.2 billion in venture capital, more than double that of a year ago. And this is despite the fact that hardly any of these companies have shown a profit yet.

This bodes ill for any enterprise software firm that is not pushing cloud services in a big way, says Denis Pombriant at enterpriseirregulars.com. Cloud-based solutions are both cheaper and more flexible than legacy software, and they are more adept at many of the mobile and social networking tasks that are invading the modern work force. Enterprises have been complaining for years about their complex and expensive static infrastructures and are looking for any and all means to push resources onto the cloud.

Deployment of cloud-based architectures may be at a fever pitch, but we're still at the very early stages of its development. Crucial issues surrounding security, reliability and availability need to be worked out satisfactorily before wholesale conversion to all-cloud or even majority-cloud data centers takes place.

Still, with an entire industry poised to remake itself, this is the time for visionaries - those who can pick apart today's deficiencies and present a brighter future. It's the never-ending story of technology reinventing itself.

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