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

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

...run their processes and store their data in virtualised datacentres run by third parties.

Quocirca director and analyst Bob Tarzey stressed that infrastructure as a service is still a fairly nascent technology - but one that has grown significantly over the past few years.

"Back early in 2010 you wouldn't have seen that many workloads running in the cloud but by the end of next year we should see a significant number," he said.

And Tarzey believes the amount of investment going into infrastructure as a service suggests 2011 will see a lot of activity in this particular part of the cloud.

"Either these guys are investing in lots of infrastructure that isn't going to be used or there's something real going on, and we think it's the latter. We really think this is taking off," Tarzey said.

Ovum analyst Laurent Lachal agrees that 2011 could be a big year for infrastructure as a service and could even represent a tipping point for the uptake of the technology. "Infrastructure as a service will establish itself this year," he said.

Infrastructure as service - private cloud

As well as infrastructure as a service in the public cloud, private cloud will be an increasingly important area in 2011, according to Lachal.

Private cloud is the term describing when businesses take advantage of technology pioneered by cloud computing vendors to modernise their own internal datacentres, by combining virtualisation, automation and scalability.

The ability for organisations to take advantage of more flexible computing through internal or 'private' clouds is likely to become more common in 2011

Organisations having more flexible computing through internal or 'private' clouds are likely to become more common in 2011
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

By adopting these techniques for in-house datacentres, computing resources can be pooled and shared and scaled up depending on demand. Organisations can become more flexible and prioritise which areas of the business need computing power and when.

Companies such as CA, Fujitsu, HP, IBM, Logicalis and Microsoft already provide services to help organisations create private cloud environments based on different technology, and more service providers are likely to become involved in 2011.

Lachal also predicts that private cloud technology could become more standardised in 2011.

"The challenge at this level is more cultural... it's about line-of-business people not having the application overly customised for the ways this needs to be reused in other circumstances," he said.

Despite predicting a significant increase in uptake of infrastructure as a service, Lachal stopped short of saying private cloud will be everywhere by the end of 2011. "There will be more private cloud initiatives [but] it will take several years for true private cloud [to become widely used]," he said.

Platform as a service

The third area of cloud computing to have emerged in recent years is platform as a service, which describes a set of services hosted by vendors on which companies are able to develop and host applications.

Microsoft describes its Windows Azure technology as a platform as a service because, unlike infrastructure as a service, it has an integrated software layer on which applications developed using Java, .NET, PHP and XML, among others, can run.

Another example is...