There's no doubt that advances in cloud computing technology are revolutionising the way that businesses run, across all industries. In fact, Gartner recently predicted that the public cloud services market is forecast to have grown by 19.6% in 2012 to a total $109 billion worldwide.
The cloud has the potential to become the preferred mechanism for software delivery, bringing more choices to organisations when selecting an application provider, and resulting in fewer reasons to maintain their own applications on-premise. Compare that to 2012 - today, if you use on-premise business application suites like SAP or Oracle, you're effectively tied to those applications.
Looking ahead to 2013, we are going to see more and more organisations seeking alternatives to on-premise deployments. As such, cloud adoption will increase dramatically; and when moving to the cloud, businesses will need to think carefully about how they will ensure that cloud providers can meet promised service-level agreements (SLAs).
Cloud security has been a big talking point this year, and increasing concerns about security and management in 2013 will mark the move to private clouds for B2B interaction management and governance.
We are also going to see a higher rate of adoption of mobile devices (smartphones and tablets) within the workforce in 2013. At this year's Gartner Symposium, Gartner predicted that by 2013 mobile phones will overtake PCs as the most common Web access device worldwide, and by 2015, media tablet shipments will constitute 50% of laptop shipments. These shifts should inspire enterprises to analyse and plan for what kind of internal applications they will need in order to enable and mobilise around cloud within the business.
Increased selectivity within the enterprise will of course put a heavier burden on IT departments to manage multiple vendors, transforming their role from providers of on-premise services to managers of off-premise cloud applications. With an increasingly complex IT environment on the horizon for IT departments, it will be important to look further ahead than just 2013. By 2015, IT teams will need to have honed new skills that enable them to:
• Work with different types of providers
• Enforce a host of widely disparate SLAs
• Evaluate varying levels of performance
• Prepare for different disaster-recovery scenarios
• Implement a variety of support and escalation processes
• Accommodate different subscription and billing models (whether transaction- or API-based).
Not all IT departments will be ready to manage this level of broadened responsibility, so in 2013, they'll need to consolidate all of their multiple vendor agreements with one of the many cloud brokers we can expect to appear on the scene - intermediaries who will integrate various applications and services, aggregate it all to create a single view, and manage the service vendors on behalf of the IT department.
Cloud brokers may even end up going beyond vendor-agreement stewardship to provide value-added services as well.
For example, it is not at all out of the question to expect that cloud brokers will map the data collected across the services their client organisation has charged them to manage, integrate that data with free services like Google Maps, and empower the client's HR department to get a better idea of how the organisation's employees are spread out around the world. This could then inspire new, previously inconceivable tactics for employee-enablement initiatives.
The writing is on the wall for 2015. It will mark the end of the cloud's lengthy foreword and the start of its first chapter. In 2013, we will begin to see which organisations won't be able to resist flipping to page one.
By Paul Moxon, Senior Director, Product & Solutions Marketing, Axway
Phil Muncaster reports on China and beyond