10 Big Cloud Trends for 2010

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New technologies will improve cloud use and performance

Riverbed Technology Inc., a San Francisco-based company that makes WAN optimization technology (and has managed to post doubt-digit growth rates during the recession), is making the core services provided by its hardware appliance into a virtual system for use in the cloud. It plans to release this product sometime in 2010. The trend will be for third parties to increasingly focus on adapting data center technologies to cloud environments, including tools to help reduce the cost of "on-boarding," or moving applications into the cloud.

Cloud providers address security concerns

In March, a broad range of companies, both vendors and cloud users, formed the Cloud Security Alliance to create a consensus on the issue of security. "Security is the number one inhibitor to cloud adoption," said Justin Steinman, a Novell Inc. vice president and a member of the Alliance. There are, for instance, a variety of legal and technology issues to address. As an example, if a payroll services provider conducts services in a third-party cloud and there's a breach of sensitive consumer data, who's liable? Who owns the data? And who sues whom?

Steinman envisions these questions being resolved, in part, through tough SLAs with cloud providers that have "drastic penalties" if things go wrong. Users can also expect to see technologies that enable cloud providers to meet different customer security requirements. There may also be a push for regulatory changes that take into account cloud services.

Performance monitoring will become ubiquitous

Cloud services are largely public, consumer-delivery services, and whenever any of the big cloud providers has a data center hiccup it's immediately noticed. Cloud providers are under increasing pressure for tell-all reports on their outages, and there's near-constant scrutiny from a seemingly increasing number of third parties with comparative score cards and glitch reports. Don't be surprised if you turn on the TV in the morning and get not only weather and traffic updates, but news about the performance of cloud services as well. ">Performance monitoring will be as common as rush hour traffic reports.

Open standards for cloud computing advance

Here's the question: Will customers be able to move easily between clouds? The answer depends on how quickly vendors and customers reach agreements on standards. There was a lot of activity in 2009 on this problem. In April, the Distributed Management Task force (DMTF) announced its "Open Cloud Standards Incubator." Among the problems the DMTF is working on is the lack of standards that enable interoperability between private clouds within the enterprise and hosted or public cloud providers. In December, the Enterprise Cloud Buyers Council was created to work on security, reliability and interoperability. Microsoft, Cisco and IBM are part of that group.

"For cloud computing to really take off, it has to be open," said Emil Sayegh, general manager of cloud for Rackspace US Inc. Cloud providers will have to allow movement between clouds and interoperability, as well as enabling disaster recovery between clouds, said Sayegh. "Holding people hostage is not something we believe in," he said.

Politics will drive decisions

Cloud decisions will, increasingly, be made with an eye on politics and not by IT managers. The decision in October by the Los Angeles City Council to approve a $7.25 million, five-year deal with Google Apps, replacing the city's internal Novell GroupWise system -- and at least setting up an alternative to Microsoft Office -- is a big deal. It engaged the mayor and city council in a very public debate about cloud services; that's the real takeaway from the decision. Cloud-based services have demystified compute services and increasingly, elected officials (and business executives) will ask IT managers about the cloud.

Look for the Los Angeles decision to echo loudly in board rooms and at government meetings in 2010.

The cloud will decentralize IT decision-making

One of the first significant actions by President Barack Obama's federal CIO, Vivek Kundra, was to create a federal app store that allows U.S. government employees to order services and tools without necessarily having to go through an IT approval process for each and every action. The app store is still a work in progress. The ability to order cloud storage, and Web hosting, is still "coming soon," but the goal is in place. The federal effort, however, is one of the more visible signals of a broader trend. After a drive toward centralization of IT resources and data center consolidation, business units may get a little independence back to add and subtract IT services via cloud providers.

This story, "10 Big Cloud Trends for 2010" was originally published by Computerworld.

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