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Editorial & Analysis

About the author

Jessica Twentyman

Jessica Twentyman

Jessica Twentyman is an experienced journalist with a 16-year track record as both a writer and editor for some of the UK's major business and trade titles, including the Financial Times, Sunday Telegraph, Director, Computer Weekly and Personnel Today. Jessica has also worked on contract publishing projects for organisations as diverse as the Institute of Directors, Microsoft, 3i, BT, English Heritage and the Royal Bank of Scotland. Jessica is the editor of IP EXPO Online. Contact Jessica on jessicatwentyman@ipexpo.co.uk

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Future of cloud computing is hybrid, says new research

25 Jun 2013

But IT professionals have much to learn about the outlook for their own department from this third annual study of the cloud computing market, says Jessica Twentyman.

When it comes to cloud computing, the outlook for many companies is hybrid, according to the third annual ‘Future of Cloud Computing’ survey from venture capitalists North Bridge Venture Partners and IT analysts GigaOM research.

The survey takes the views of 855 individuals worldwide, with a roughly 60:40 split between IT vendors on one side and customers (business users and IT decision-makers) on the other side.

Hybrid cloud infrastructures, the study predicts, will be used by 43 percent of organisations in five years’ time, compared with 27 percent today. In the process, they will overtake both public and private clouds, which in 2017, will be used by 32 percent and 25 percent of firms, respectively.

Already, IT teams are already at work to make ‘on demand’ computing a reality for line-of-business users, and are investing heavily in both adapting internal infrastructure and adopting public cloud infrastructure to meet their future hybrid-cloud needs.

The reason for that is clear, according to report contributor, Sameer Dholakia, group vice president and cloud general manager at Citrix: “The ideal end-state of business is a flexible, hybrid cloud strategy where IT is able to aggregate and deliver self-service access to a variety of cloud services, both internal and third party, and run these workloads on any cloud that best fits the service,” he says.

But what does cloud computing industry look like today? Software-as-a-service (SaaS) remains the most popular cloud service, according to the research, and is in use in almost two-thirds of organisations, up 15 percent on last year’s survey.

In SaaS, the report authors point out, six of the biggest areas of growth are all in areas directly relevant to the IT department: big data, followed closely by mobile, then systems management, back-up / disaster recovery / business continuity, helpdesk and security.

But infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) has taken the biggest leap forward in the twelve months since the last survey was conducted by North Bridge and GigaOM: it’s in use in 45 percent of businesses, up 29 percent from 2012.

Platform-as-a-service (PaaS), meanwhile, is on the way up, too: one third of respondents say that their business is using PaaS today, up 22 percent from 2012.

But while most organisations are likely to adopt cloud computing in multiple forms as part of a hybrid cloud infrastructure, they will need to make adjustments in the way they run IT, warns report contributor Gordon Haff, cloud evangelist at open source software company Red Hat. “Maintaining application and data portability within such environments requires open approaches, such as open source and open standards,” he says.

Right now, both vendors and customers still have some way to go in developing and implementing these strategies. More than half of customers, for example, are not currently tracking or reporting cloud service costs, the research finds.

“The cloud was originally expected to reduce complexity, but with experience, many are seeing the opposite. This is typical of an early market,” say the report’s authors. Over time, they predict, two things will happen to make things simpler for customers: first, the emergence of new integrators and multi-cloud providers with new capabilities; and second, increased interoperability between cloud services and providers.

In terms of IT team structure, meanwhile, the report’s authors believe that cloud computing is leading to a reduction in headcount, but an increase in training.

And some clearer thinking may be required on both sides of the vendor/customer equation. “Technology buyers expect cloud adoption will make managing IT increasingly complex, yet the plurality also expect overall better cost of ownership,” says David Card, vice president of research at GigaOM. “That’s either wishful thinking or an intriguing opportunity for suppliers and systems integrators.”

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