Cloud computing: Why 2011 is the year to say 'do it'

What the year will hold for software, infrastructure and platform as a service

Could 2011 be the breakthrough year for cloud computing?

Offering users the benefits of more predictable IT costs, ease of implementation and greater flexibility, cloud computing has generated huge interest in the last couple of years but adoption has been slowed by concerns around the security and reliability of cloud services.

Analyst Gartner predicts that total revenue for cloud services in 2011 will be $81.3bn compared to $68.3bn in 2010, a 19 per cent increase. And that revenue is forecast to increase to $148.8bn by 2014.

Yet the cloud computing market remains a tiny fraction of the entire IT market: Gartner forecasts IT spending in 2011 will be $3.6tr, which means cloud computing will account for a mere 2.3 per cent of the global market.

"[Cloud computing is] tiny if you compare it with the entire IT market, so there's still a lot of room for growth and it also explains the high rate of growth," Laurent Lachal, senior analyst at Ovum told

But 2011 could be the year in which businesses move from merely talking about cloud computing to putting at least some of their IT services into the cloud.

"The market as a whole has moved, in the past 18 months, from 'what the hell is cloud computing?' to 'what do I do with it, how do I take advantage of it?' 2011 will be much more a 'let's do it' year, while 2010 was still a 'let's get to know about it' year," Lachal said.

Cloud computing has been talked about for several years but 2011 could see more businesses actually adopt the technology

Cloud computing has been talked about for several years but 2011 could see more businesses actually adopt the technology
(Photo credit: Shutterstock)

Cloud computing is a broad term which covers a number of variations of technology: software as a service; infrastructure as a service; private cloud; and platform as a service, each of which will have differing fortunes over the next year.

Software as a service

Software as a service (SaaS), in which applications are hosted by vendors and delivered to customers over the internet, is the most mature of the cloud computing technologies. Some SaaS providers have been around for more than a decade.

Of particular interest in 2011 will be how the incumbent SaaS providers – such as Google and Netsuite - develop their products and their user base in the face of new competition from companies, such as SAP, that previously only offered on-premise versions of their products. In general, however, analysts are expecting steady growth in the market during the year.

Infrastructure as a service – public cloud

While SaaS continues its steady march, the cloud computing area with greatest potential for growth in 2011 is infrastructure as a service, according to analysts.

This area of cloud computing allows organisations to...