Like earlier transformative phases in IT – the adoption of personal computing in the 1980s, client/server computing in the 1990s and the uptake of SaaS earlier this century – cloud has reached a similar tipping point that will create unprecedented opportunities for both new entrants and established vendors.

For many industry soothsayers, 2012 was going to be the year cloud went mainstream.  Are we there yet?  With IDC reporting that global spending on public IT cloud services will be more than $40 billion this year with a compound annual growth rate of more than 25%, it looks like 2013 will be the year that cloud pays off for many vendors and customers.

Here’s how I see these trends playing out in 2013 and beyond:

1. Increased adoption of applications as a service impacts capital expense

While not a zero sum game, we are already seeing the inroads cloud is making against capital expense allocated to traditional IT infrastructure.  Businesses are seriously considering buying services on-demand rather than purchasing physical hardware (e.g. servers, racks, network switches, PCs), software licenses and maintenance contracts. Conversely, cloud service providers are becoming much larger customers of hardware and software vendors.

2. The rise of specialist cloud consultants

As the money shifts to cloud we are witnessing an entire new industry of cloud consultants and specialists springing up to help businesses build and use cloud architecture. Joining the ranks of smaller independent niche consultants and hardware vendors with professional service arms, the traditional big consulting firms are all working to assemble the talent and skill sets needed to beef up their newly formed cloud consulting practices.  At the same time, there are increasing opportunities for enterprise IT departments to become internal cloud specialists and play a more strategic role in helping provide their businesses greater agility in leveraging cloud capabilities.

3. Evolution of mobile cloud

The bring your own device trend and the continuing  decline of the PC as the dominant computing platform will accelerate the move towards mobile cloud as more businesses become increasingly mobile and shift IT assets from their own data centers to the cloud. In this environment, security becomes more important than ever. As a result, enterprise IT will be entrusted with setting clear policies that provide security for accessing cloud applications on mobile devices without squashing the innovation enabled by cloud.

4. Cloud clarity will start to emerge in 2013

Today, a great deal of confusion still exists over the conflicting approaches to deploying cloud by various vendors and service providers, and it’s not clear where businesses should turn.  This fragmentation should begin to dissipate later in 2013 and beyond as the marketplace coalesces around standards and clear winners emerge. Open source will continue to gain relevance, and we’ll see more commercialized services based on open source platforms coming to market.

5. Cloud standards slowly emerge

For cloud to truly go mainstream it needs to evolve from a vendor-by-vendor solution, as it is today, to a utility platform differentiated by reliability, scalability and standardization.  Marketplace standards are driven by vendors, standards groups and market forces. APIs will have to be standardized, and interoperability and federated cloud formations will need to happen – both in a geographic sense and within industry verticals.

Do you agree? What do you think will be the biggest cloud industry trends in 2013?

 

 

Source: IDC, ‘Worldwide and Regional Public IT Cloud Services 2012-2016 Forecast’, August 2012 (IDC #236552)