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2013: The Shape of Cloud Computing to Come

By Jeffrey M. Kaplan
Dec 14, 2012 5:00 AM PT

Software as a Service has become an accepted alternative to traditional on-premises enterprise applications, and a broader set of cloud services is becoming a viable option for businesses seeking more flexible and economical computing capabilities.

2013: The Shape of Cloud Computing to Come

Despite occasional service disruptions, the adoption of these services is accelerating rapidly, because they are delivering tangible and measurable business benefits that clearly demonstrate their value.

It is a no-brainer to predict that the cloud movement will continue to grow exponentially in the coming years. So, my predictions for 2013 will focus on how the cloud marketplace will be reshaped as it matures, and the gating factors that will impact its evolution.

1. The economic effect of the 'fiscal cliff' will increase interest and escalate demand for cloud services and solutions.

The SaaS and cloud movements would not have gained momentum during the past decade if it weren't for the economic imperatives brought on by the downturn in the worldwide economy.

Continued economic uncertainty and the threat of higher operating costs caused by the current fiscal crisis will drive more businesses to adopt cloud-based alternatives.

2. IT/Business decision makers will strive to create the right mix of public and private cloud services in a hybrid environment.

Sorting through the proliferation of cloud services to select and deploy those that best fit in their existing operations and satisfy their specific business requirements will be the top priority.

3. Channel companies will reemerge as key influencers in cloud selection process.

Channel companies have always been a critical component in the distribution of hardware and software in the IT industry. IT and business decision-makers will turn to these trusted sources again for help with cloud service selection, deployment and management.

4. Hybrid cloud management will become the biggest challenge.

Few organizations are able to fully manage their legacy systems and applications -- adding on a new layer of cloud services threatens to compound their existing mess. New cloud-based management solutions and a growing number of managed cloud services will help organizations get their arms around this challenge.

5. Cost management takes center-stage in the cloud.

Many businesses are discovering the hard way that cloud services acquired on demand can quickly become surprisingly expensive. A new set of cloud cost management tools will help businesses estimate potential costs and monitor real expenditures.

6. Cloud analytics unlock the hidden value in Big Data.

Infrastructure as a Service alternatives will allow businesses to capture and store today's escalating data more economically. Also, SaaS-based business intelligence solutions will enable businesses to analyze information more easily and share it more effectively.

7. Platform as a Service becomes a key component of strategic cloud portfolios.

As businesses become more comfortable with SaaS and IaaS alternatives, they will start to select cloud vendors that can serve as strategic sources.

The PaaS offerings of these cloud providers will become increasingly pivotal in their selection process.

8. Cloud washers fail to satisfy customers' escalating demands and face operational strains.

Many legacy hardware and software vendors are rebranding their existing systems and applications as "cloud" solutions by hosting and offering them as subscription services.

While this alleviates the upfront costs and ongoing administrative burdens their customers face, it doesn't deliver all the benefits of true SaaS/cloud services and won't scale over the long term.

9. New cloud opportunities lie in vertical markets, regional geographies and professional services.

While nearly every horizontal application market segment is becoming saturated, most industries are still ripe for targeted cloud alternatives that address age-old inefficiencies.

Also, every geographic region outside the U.S. is fertile for greater cloud penetration. Specialized cloud consultancies focused on these opportunities will have open runways for growth.

10. Enterprise cloud marketplaces emerge.

A growing assortment of businesses and other institutions will launch internal cloud marketplaces to satisfy their end-user SaaS/PaaS/IaaS needs.

This tactic will enable them to better manage the selection process, control procurement costs, and address security and compliance concerns.

Jeff Kaplan is the managing director of THINKstrategies and founder of the Cloud Computing Showplace. He can be reached at

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