12 cloud predictions of Christmas: 'Tis the season to be open

CloudPro editor Maxwell Cooter tells us what he thinks will happen in cloud in 2012

A constant factor in the last few years has been the prediction that the coming year of the cloud. It’s like an Alice in Wonderland world, cloud computing tomorrow but never today.

There are some very good reasons for thinking that 2012 will be very different however. All the indications from the analysts say that expenditure on cloud services has shown a sharp increase, a trend that’s set to continue for the foreseeable future.

I predict that in December 2012, we’ll be looking back on the previous 12 months and agreeing that it was the year when cloud finally made its presence felt.

What are going to be the drivers for this change?

1 Government  pressure
There is little doubt that take-up of cloud services by the public sector has been on the slow side. There have been a few local authorities who have gone down this route: Hillingdon and Warwickshire to name a couple - but central government departments have been slow to respond.

That’s all set to change: the G-Cloud initiative has taken on new legs: it has a new director looking to push things forward and the call to tender at the end of last year was extended twice to cope with the volume of interest.

Given this impetus from above, we will see more local authorities look to embrace cloud - the possibilities are there now and there's almost an expectation to do so.

2 The open cloud
It seems like another century now but who remembers  the Open Cloud Manifesto? This  was IBM’s (and others) attempt to make cloud more open by, er, excluding major cloud vendors from the discussion. It was big news at the time but things have moved on a good deal since then,

Two of the biggest cloud stories from last year were the continued success of OpenStack (and Rackspace’s decision to walk away from it) and the launch of CloudFoundry, VMware’s open PaaS launch. I was a bit cynical at the time of CloudFoundry’s launch, wondering how open it was going to be but VMware has not tried to subvert the process in any way and the recent support for .NET  has shown how all-embracing it is.

I fully expect to see a lot more engagement with open source cloud implementations as customers avoid proprietaty implementations.

But there's a flipside to this too: paradoxically, there will also be room for growth for some of the big IT vendors. Both IBM and HP made significant cloud announcements in 2011 and are going to make some headway with customers: there will be plenty of organisations who will be concerned about the implications of the cloud and who have shied away from it - but will be ready to expore the possibilities with a trusted partner.

3 Security
While there security scare stories a-plenty, Virtual Cloudsviders have been largely unscarred by attacks. I predict this will change in 2012 and there’s going to be at least one security breach. I take on board what the likes of Amazon and Rackspace say about the integrity of their cloud offerings and believe that they’re protected by Fort Knox levels of security.

I wish I could say the same about every Virtual Cloudsvider out there - there will all say that their systems are secure but systems can be breached.

Take the biggest security leak in the UK so far - the loss of eight million records by HMRC in 2007. That was caused by someone placing a CDs full of data in the post - in contravention of all security procedures.

That may not have been an instance of cloud computing but the principle applies - there's no such thing as perfect security, all the security plans in existence won't guard against human error. And there will be a flaw in some Virtual Cloudsvider somewhere. 

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