Your IT department has its head in the clouds (and why that’s a good thing)

Friday, July 12th, 2013

Over the last several years, business applications like Salesforce and Google Apps have been driving the adoption of cloud services for business. But a new survey from North Bridge Venture Partners shows that the future of cloud adoption is heading for your IT department.

The third annual Future of Cloud Computing Survey, conducted by North Bridge Venture Partners, in conjunction with 58 other partners, was released last month and shed light on where practitioners see the future of the cloud heading. Probably the most interesting fact was about Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS). PaaS allows for the development of applications or services in the cloud that can be run virtually from anywhere with an Internet connection. This means that IT departments won’t have to worry that Office A is running a different environment than Office B when they want to deploy a new application. Examples of PaaS include Google Apps Platform and Microsoft’s Azure Platform. This new survey showed that 72% of respondents expect to use PaaS within the next five years, making it the fastest potential avenue for growth for cloud-based services.

This shift toward PaaS is a reflection of the changing work environment. After the financial crash of 2008, adoptionof cloud services and the acceptance of bring-your-own-device (BYOD) in the workplace not only helped reduce costs for cash-strapped businesses, but also facilitated a more mobile workforce. It’s this fast rise in mobility that has prompted IT departments to start seriously looking at the cloud to help manage the future of IT. In fact, the North Bridge survey found that six out of the top seven fastest growth areas in the cloud will be in IT areas like systems management and mobile.

There is, of course, a lot more work to be done before the cloud becomes the norm in many sectors, including IT departments. Right now the cloud resembles the Wild West, with no clear trusted leader yet to emerge. This is most starkly illustrated by the finding that, although many of the top cloud providers cited in the survey include companies like Amazon, Microsoft, and Google, there were 300 other companies that had less than a 2% response.This indicates there is no real leader right now in the minds of cloud users. But, as with any new industry, we should expect to see a future consolidation with fewer players in the market. And, once that happens, it will be easier for IT departments to choose a cloud partner they feel is reliable and secure.

Future Cloud Computing

Another avenue that could also expand cloud computing’s foothold is the idea of open APIs. The boom in social technologies and platforms taught many that open APIs facilitate fast adoption as well as growth of communities. Respondents expressed interest in cloud APIs as a way to go beyond any single application and create integrated systems. For example, Cloudfinder offers an open API that allows their customers to develop uses for the information that it backs up in a variety of other ways.

There is no question that future is bright for the cloud, as survey after survey shows substantial growth in the coming years. No small part of that growth will come from the fact that the cloud is drifting into IT departments, which is a critical component to widespread adoption and ensuring a smooth transition into the age of “everything as-a-service.”

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