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

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

...Salesforce.com's Force.com platform. Lachal predicted that it's likely IBM will launch a similar platform in 2011, based on its Websphere technology.

However, analysts feel that platform as a service could well be subsumed by infrastructure as a service in the coming years as these platforms open up to other types of code and become less attached to the platform or 'fabric.'

"Platform as a service is coming into its own in 2011, not just because of increasing competition between incumbents, but also platform as a service is kind of being reinvented a little bit," Laurent Lachal said.

For example, Force.com was initially intended only for applications using Salesforce.com's Apex code. However, the company recently teamed up with VMWare to allow Java developers to build applications for Force.com and acquired the Ruby-based cloud platform Heroku, suggesting that it's embracing other developer languages.

Lachal added that new entrants in platform as a service, such as Red Hat, are likely to have a more infrastructure-based approach, meaning customers will be able to have instances of processing and storage, which will also include a development and operating environment for their applications built on different programming languages.

Business attitudes

The attitudes of businesses will be a key element in the development of cloud computing in 2011.

"There will always be people who take the attitude that you cannot control what's in the cloud and it's not secure enough and therefore you won't put your crown jewels on the cloud," Lachal said.

Concerns about the security and reliability of cloud computing are likely to be allayed in 2011 as many new businesses see it as the best option for access to computing resources

Concerns about the security and reliability of cloud computing are likely to be allayed in 2011 as many new businesses see it as the best option for access to computing resources
(Photo credit: Shutterstock)

"There are still technology issues - latency and security issues - but not as many as people think. There are solutions to a lot of these problems. However, the attitudes are evolving less fast than technology and it will take some time for people to really trust their core applications to the cloud," he added.

Ultimately, it will be the use cases that influence the adoption of cloud computing. "What we recommend is that the cloud is best suited for utility-type functions that don't differentiate your business," Bob Tarzey said.

However, Lachal added that start-up companies now have little choice but to use public cloud computing as venture capital organisations are unlikely to fund the building of datacentres for unproven businesses.

"It doesn't make any sense for a start-up to do that - and then if the start-up is successful, then yes, after a few years they can, if and when it makes sense, create their own datacentre," he said.

In general, analysts see the various cloud technologies maturing in 2011 with adoption accelerating, especially with newer businesses.

"There will not be a stampede [towards cloud computing] but I think there is a momentum because technology and attitudes are evolving and there is a new generation of companies that are cloud-based and are just getting on with it because they have no choice," Lachal said.

"We do not think, by any measure, that the whole world is going in a decade's time to be totally run on cloud computing, it's just that cloud computing will make a huge contribution to the computer resources that we need," Tarzey added.