When it comes to cloud computing, 2011 saw BIG hype but very small budgets. A search for "Cloud Computing" appears more than 150 million times on the internet, but as a percentage of IT spending it is still a mere 1.5% (Gartner). Currently, this is mainly for commodity applications like email and storage. Will 2012 be the year when Cloud lives up to the hype? Probably not, if you trust the opinion of 669 IT decision-makers in an Accenture Survey- only 13% think cloud "will transform business". I spoke with top executives from three dominant Cloud players-- EMC, Intel and Sales Force—to get their perspectives for 2012. 



Source: Accenture survey of 669 IT Decision Makers, 2011

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Mark Lewis, Chief Strategy Officer, EMC; President of EMC Ventures:
Skeptical about "Platforms as a Service": The IT generation has evolved significantly since the last major IT era (Client/Server). Major platforms like .NET evolved because the majority of enterprise applications were custom built on top of base capabilities like a database. Today, IT and users are finding greater benefit from full-featured configurable SaaS applications that can provide the vast majority of their needed requirements with an "off the shelf" application.


I believe the cloud world will actually bifurcate into two major segments. First, many users will adopt SaaS offerings for base capabilities and actually use the SaaS Application as a "platform" for extensions. In this case, users will leverage high-level code/configuration environments to create simple extensions around an existing app. SF.com with force.com is a great example. I believe, for example, that most force.com users are actually leveraging Salesforce.com as a base application.

Second, ISVs (Independent Software Vendors), and users that want to write new applications will look to leverage development environments that optimize the performance and capabilities of their application. Most will leverage Public/Private cloud (IaaS) (Infrastructure as a Service) as a foundation. They will then pick and choose additional components based on their application needs. They will code in different languages, selecting from one of 50+ databases, etc.

So, effectively while every application will get developed on a platform, the days of ISV''s or businesses standardizing on one database (e.g. Oracle) and one programming environment are over. Since cloud applications will communicate through Web Services and Restful interfaces, the applications themselves will be able to leverage the most optimal platform components. So, while platforms and PaaS (Platforms as a Service) will be everywhere, I believe they will not longer be this major control point for vendors to create "lock-in." Platforms will be flexible, many will be Open Source, and most will run on virtually any infrastructure.

Virtual IT: 2012 will be the year where companies start to really think about their "virtual IT" systems as a whole. Most are now using several SaaS providers, doing at least some development work in public clouds, and are well on the way to building private clouds to run internal applications. I believe that companies see the strong need to insure that they have consistent data management policies, security policies, and cross-application integration across all of these different clouds. To have both the needed governance as well as for optimal business leverage, IT needs to connect these disparate clouds into a single Virtual IT environment.

Companies operating in the new enterprise environment must offer great base capabilities to the user but also insure their applications can meet the security, data protection and other regulatory needs that will be driven by IT. It is this combination of capabilities (User+IT) that will create the next leaders.




Peter Coffee, VP and Head of Platform Research, Salesforce.com:
The Truth Is Out There: In 2012, the perception of cloud evolves from being tolerably distant from the data center, to being strategically close to social networks and real-time data feeds.
 
In 2012, the cloud will stop apologizing for being at the other end of a wire, and will instead assert the crucial importance of being closer to the points of origin of the data that’s most valuable to a Social Enterprise.
 
When IT’s job was archival of business transaction by-products, the data center was the logical solution. Today, the data most vital to the business originates outside the business: in social networks where customer communities thrive, and in real-time data feeds from a fast-growing ‘Internet of Things.’
 
Twitter Town Hall: In 2011, we saw the phenomenon of the ‘Twitter Town Hall’ conducted by the Obama administration. Tens of thousands of citizen questions and comments were digested in real time using the Radian6 technology that is now the heart of Salesforce.com''s newly announced Social Marketing Cloud. A post-event report transformed this firehose stream of unstructured data into understandable slices by demographic, by issue of concern, and by other key dimensions that turned this into useful policy guidance.

President Obama used Radian6 technology from salesforce.com to digest tens of thousands of real-time Tweets into useful policy guidance following a “Twitter Town Hall"

Toyotafriend: In 2012, we will see the arrival in the market of Toyotafriend, a Product Social Network that will transform the automobile from mere machine into network node. Vehicle owners will be able to monitor the condition of their own cars, and have the option of expanding that network on an opt-in basis to (for example) vehicles driven by other family members. Further, the relationship of owner to automobile dealer will be enriched with the possibility of maintenance discounts and other continuing value over the entire duration of ownership. Other such initiatives, in every domain from travel and leisure to personal photography and soft-drink vending, will appear in the marketplace in 2012.

The Toyota/ salesforce.com Toyotafriend project will transform Toyota vehicles into nodes of a personally configured, private, social network, able to combine conventional telematics with family/friend and maintenance service provider communications. Please see the Toyotafriend video here

As I observed in a blog post earlier this year, “The Truth of Things Is In the Cloud”, many of the past apprehensions about the transition to a ‘cloud first’ conception of IT, as adopted for example by the US government, will seem quaintly anachronistic when the challenge is not to jealously guard tiny pockets of locally originating data; when the challenge and opportunity arise, rather, in turning an external universe of data into competitive advantage for the enterprise and into superior service and responsiveness from public agencies.

Lisa Lambert, Managing Director, Intel Capital / Uri Arazy (Director, Intel Capital)
We expect enterprises will continue implementing datacenter virtualization in the immediate term to realize ROI for investments already made to automate their datacenters.  However, we are seeing increasing evidence that many companies are exploring moving to a private cloud fabric in 2012, due to potential scale economies and TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) savings. Enterprises have witnessed that there is no simple way to convert their legacy business applications to a cloud architecture. They are separating their mission critical applications, which can be deployed on multi-tenant private clouds, and will migrate other applications to a SaaS model. 
  
Intel Capital’s cloud computing portfolio companies (such as Dynamic Ops and Joyent) service many Fortune 500 organizations and have indicated that CIOs (Chief Information Officers) have a desire to minimize uncontrolled use of ad-hoc public clouds by test and development teams. They bring the best practices of public cloud services on-premise via a multi-tenant private cloud approach. A recent hardware survey by Forrester Research of 2000+ IT executives in North America and Europe indicated a growing interest in private clouds as shown below. The private cloud architecture movement will be complemented with an API fabric that enables enterprises to mash-up locked data with social feeds in ways that better support a savvy and mobile global workforce.  This trend is positive for private cloud adoption in the near term and may accelerate the demand for private and public cloud solutions across small, medium, and large enterprises. 



In addition, Intel & IBM EMEA have implemented a collaboration to address the ''Big Cloud'' community in Israel and launched the Joint Cloud Competences Center in May, 2011. The innovation center provides a showcase for IBM based on Intel''s latest technologies and as a tool to support the mutual pre-sales and technical marketing activities in the cloud and HPC segment. This includes Benchmarks, ISV enablement and Certification, Customer POCs,Sales and Marketing events, and new technology demos. The center is based on IBM-Intel unique technologies such as iDataplex, IBM BladeCenter, and IBM eX5 with the latest Nehalem and Westmere processors.

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