We can expect continued maturation of cloud services in 2013, which will translate into expansion and specialization among cloud service providers.
What will these changes mean for your IT organization? For starters, new virtualization solutions will ease the burden of securing and managing mobile devices. In addition, a cloud price war among the largest service providers could work to your advantage in getting the best possible pricing options. And if pricing isn't your No. 1 concern, the growth of vertically specialized cloud services, including platform-as-a-service (PaaS) solutions designed for specific industries, could offer you options that meet your specific business needs.
What's driving the latest cloud developments? Hosted data and services have grown into core business platforms as a result of the continued expansion of network connectivity. In addition, three major developments are simultaneously gaining momentum, which we expect to help drive cloud evolution and adoption in 2013:
- Enterprise mobility
- Vertical cloud services
Enterprise mobility and the cloud
Mobile computing is a major force in driving businesses to embrace the cloud. For employers and employees alike, mobile access to work data has become too compelling to ignore.
We can certainly expect the already massive adoption of mobile computing to continue in 2013. In tandem with that growth, we can expect cloud service providers to offer solutions that meet the specific needs of mobile users.
Security is one such example. The mixing of personal and business data on mobile devices strikes fear in the hearts of many IT departments. But there's an answer emerging: mobile virtualization.
In the next 12 months we can expect to see such technologies mature, enabling a single mobile device to be operated under fully independent personal and business personae. This affords IT the ability to essentially rope off business apps and data from the personal activity being conducted on the mobile devices. Mobile virtualization will help improve the security of data on devices, making it possible for IT to create bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies that are more liberal than those of the past.
Cloud commoditization looms
In the past two months, major cloud providers Amazon, Google, and Microsoft have all announced price reductions. The sheer size of these companies lets them afford a price war. So, if you're shopping for cloud services solely based on price, it's likely to be a buyer's market.
How will a price war affect small cloud service providers? One outcome may be that small providers will be driven out of business by the commodity pricing of the big three. To survive a price war, small cloud service providers will have to provide unique service offerings for which they can charge a higher rate than their giant competitors. Here's where vertical cloud services come in.
Vertical cloud services expand
If you've been stymied by the broad-brush cloud services and are looking to find solutions that are specific to your business, then this could be your year. Essentially, the opposite of commodity cloud computing, the vertical cloud -- sometimes known as platform-as-a-service -- applies the hosted benefits of general cloud computing and customizes these to the specific needs of a vertical industry sector.
For example, the air transport industry launched a vertical cloud in 2011. The New York Stock Exchange has also gotten in on the act with a cloud for financial trading. Other vertical clouds are emerging in major industries such as insurance, healthcare, and media.
Industries that share common needs will increasingly find that it makes financial sense to invest in vertical clouds.
What's your cloud outlook for 2013? Is enhancing your enterprise mobility and BYOD capabilities your main objective? Is pricing your priority? Or are you looking for cloud solutions that meet your specific industry needs, even if they come at a premium? Share your comments below.