Is 2010 the Year of the Cloud?

The growth of cloud providers has grown over the last few years and I thought it would be a good idea to look at whether 2010 might be the year that sees the use of the Cloud within
corporate environments starting to gain traction.

Google claim that millions of business have already migrated across to Google Apps, a
web-based suite of messaging and collaboration applications. The general feedback from all of
the published case studies is that users are happier and that the total cost of ownership is
significantly reduced. Is this the sign of the times ahead?

Amazon also offer multiple cloud services under the banner of AWS (Amazon Web Services).
Amazon launched EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud) in 2006 and they now have multiple other
products. One of these services is the Simple Storage Service (S3) and the growth of this
service in particular has gone from nothing in 2006 to 52 billion objects stored in Q1 of 2009.

The bandwidth costs of AWS are apparently now much greater than for all of Amazon’s global
web-sites which indicates the scale of their product offerings. It was even predicted in 2008
that the revenue from the Amazon cloud services would overtake those of the retailing part of
the organisation by 2012.

My take on all of this is that by the end of 2010, I would suggest that not just academics and
“Cloud Computing” conference goers will know about and understand how the cloud can help
them. I feel that it will start to become more mainstream in the day jobs of all IT professionals
and some more knowledgeable business workers.

So why is this the case? What is driving this move to more centralised cloud services?

Corporate IT departments are now in most cases behind the curve when it comes to cutting edge technology. The vast number of web 2.0 services on the internet that people are using
outside of the office are more technologically advanced than the applications and systems that
people are using within the enterprise. An example would be the collaboration offered by
Facebook to instant message with friends and to share photos and messages without even
thinking about IP addresses or email addresses. Cloud services offer all of this now for
corporate users out of the box in many cases. Salesforce.com offer a Chatter product which is
very similar to Facebook in functionality.

The initial outlay required is also much less when using Cloud services and with the global
recession, cost cutting and the influence of Finance Directors are important factors in
decision making. Another important factor is of course low termination costs so the risks of
trying out new products and services is much less using Cloud Services.
Another key factor of course is the maturity of the cloud services out there. Google have had a
few problems with Google Mail this past year but generally the applications and services that cloud providers now offer are mature enough to be a viable alternative to more traditional
office tools and applications.

So what does this mean in terms of IT skills in the market place?

If cloud services are to become more prominent, then it means that those people who
understand the services on offer and the costing models behind them will have an advantage.
The cost models themselves are not simple. This will mean that people will be able to offer
alternatives to CIOs and IT Directors which will propagate the use of Cloud services across
the board.

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