Cloudy Future on the Horizon

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Forty percent of companies are still to be convinced of the benefits of cloud and have no plans to adopt such a service. That's according to a survey from Quest Software, which also found that the need to reduce costs was still the main driver for those companies that have adopted cloud services.

When it comes to which virtualisation platform is being employed, Quest found that VMware is still the dominant vendor with 93 percent (of IT managers surveyed using it - Microsoft's Hyper-V is yet to penetrate in a big way with just 27 percent of IT organisations opting for it. Citrix is lagging behind in third place with 21 percent of organisations using it. However, desktop virtualisation was being used by just 46 percent of respondents.

Quest Software has used the results of its survey to make 11 predictions on the way that the cloud market will shape up in 2011. The predictions were made by Quest "experts" and draw on previous surveys.

According to Quest, the market will coalesce around the three main providers - Microsoft Azure Services Platform, Google App Engine and Amazon Web Services - with none of them proving to be dominant. But, in a sign that cloud computing is beginning to penetrate corporate thinking, Quest predicts that more companies will employ specialist cloud teams to account for the fact that the provisioning cloud services will be fundamentally different from current application delivery models.

Perhaps the most compelling change from current thinking is the finding that more IT decisions will be made from outside the IT department and that IT staff may not be aware of all software currently being deployed within their organisations.

Quest hasn't been the only company making predictions about the state of the cloud market. Forrester analyst James Staten has also been peering into the cloudy crystal ball and seeing what the future holds.

Like Quest, Staten sees the platform market becoming more competitive with Amazon's early lead in this space being pulled back by the competition and, like Quest, Staten sees the emergence of a new type of IT manager, one with closer links to the business and who might not have emerged from a traditional IT background.

The starkest of Staten's predictions is that many companies will go down the path of cloud deployments and will fail. Staten said however that this experience should not be ignored. "This is a good thing. Because through this failure you will learn what it really takes to operate a cloud environment. Knowing this, your strategy should be to fail fast and fail quietly. Don't take on a highly visible or wildly ambitious cloud effort. Start small, learn, iterate, and then expand."

Staten also predicts the emergence of community clouds where companies working in the same area will use the same clouds. He cited as an example the way that the biotech industry is banding together to meet government-set compliance on drug licensing.

And, according to Staten, some of the main concerns of prospective customers: the lack of standards and security will become less important. There will still be no standards in the cloud said Staten, but his advice for would-be cloud users: "Don't let that hold you back from using cloud technologies, though, as most are built on the backs of prior standards efforts."

Staten said that cloud providers will make further headway in security and customers could also take further steps. "Get started with the applications that are easiest to protect," he advised.

This story, "Cloudy Future on the Horizon" was originally published by

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