Cloud Strategists Weigh In: Top Trends in Cloud Computing

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What are the top trends in cloud computing today? We asked some of the cloud professionals in attendance at our recent RightScale Compute conference to share what they considered to be the top trends. We got a wide range of answers, as you might expect from leaders in an industry that is changing rapidly as more cloud technology providers are entering the space and as enterprises are increasingly adopting cloud computing. Some of the key trends concerned enterprises moving to a hybrid cloud strategy, a focus on performance, and integrating cloud into the application development process.

Cloud strategists talk about the top trends in cloud computing

Enterprises Exploring Hybrid Cloud

Last year, a Forrester Research report predicted, “Enterprises will have a hybrid portfolio of cloud and non-cloud workload deployments that uses this breadth of options to optimize resource and agility requirements.” Our cloud strategists, too, saw a trend toward the increasing use of hybrid clouds.

Vanessa Alvarez, head of marketing at Scale Computing, was among those citing “the movement toward a hybrid cloud model for enterprises.”

Roger Levy, general manager of public cloud services at HP, agreed, saying, “Enterprises are getting much more involved in migrating existing workloads into the public cloud and bridging in a hybrid way between their private clouds and public cloud. The public cloud is no longer simply for new build, web app, mobile app, line-of-business shadow IT.”

We found similar sentiments in the results of our research for our RightScale State of the Cloud Report, in which 47 percent of respondents were planning to use hybrid clouds.

Cloud Performance Proves Key

And which factors are organizations looking for in their move to cloud? Brian Goldfarb, head of cloud platform marketing for Google Cloud Platform, cited “Performance — can the cloud provider they’re using give them the performance they need? Second is consistency — how do you create a consistent cloud experience?”

Duke Skarda, CTO of SoftLayer (recently acquired by IBM), agreed: “Our customers are looking for more reliability and scalability and performance with a better value for the dollar.”

Patrick Moore, director of operations at Koupon Media, said, “We see a lot of issues with high availability — people are worried about that. Making sure your system isn’t going to fail is a huge issue.”

A recent article by Network World echoed some of these observations, noting that enterprises are starting to trust the cloud with sensitive applications.

Integrating Cloud Into the Software Development Lifecycle

Organizations are also concerned about processes related to development. Steve Martin, general manager for Windows Azure, says much of the discussion about cloud to this point has been about its financial benefits, but “I think this next year is going to be about cloud architecture and customers taking advantage of components that allow them to build applications in a new way — applications that they simply couldn’t build before by taking advantage of some modern services.”

Scott Sanchez, director of strategy for Rackspace, concurred, saying, “One of the big changes is the adoption of a continuous deployment, continuous integration model.”

The RightScale State of the Cloud Report revealed the same trend, showing a link between cloud use and DevOps, a software development philosophy and practice that involves collaboration between operations teams and developers to increase agility and deliver applications to market more quickly.

Moving Forward

While all of these benefits point to opportunities for savvy enterprises, they also cause some companies to tread carefully as they explore the cloud. Brian Parrish, president of CloudSocium, says, “In the industries I work with, cloud computing is still kind of scary and unfamiliar. That’s starting to change.”

“In the words of ‘Crossing the Chasm,’ we’re moving from the early majority to the late majority,” says Justin Pirie, cloud strategist with Mimecast. “People are really making a move en masse.”

The diversity of the responses from these cloud industry leaders indicates a market that’s maturing on many fronts. As organizations move forward with their adoption of cloud, whether they are starting from proof of concept or are looking to expand their breadth of options with hybrid cloud, they stand to gain such benefits as business continuity and increased application availability, better application performance, expanded geographic reach, and increased IT staff efficiency.