Enterprises to “get real” about cloud in 2013: Forrester

Analyst firm shares its top 10 cloud computing predictions for next year.

IT leaders will need to “get real” and stop saying that everything is moving into the cloud during 2013, according to analyst firm Forrester.

In a blog entry which counts down the company’s top 10 cloud predictions for next year, Forrester US infrastructure and operations principal analyst James Staten wrote that enterprises will finally stop saying that everything is going cloud and “get real” about what fits into cloud services.

“We now have enough understanding about what makes cloud platforms different from traditional virtual infrastructures and traditional hosting environments to make architecturally sound decisions about which applications to move to the cloud,” he said.

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Turning to other predictions, Staten said that IT leaders will "stop stressing" about cloud service level agreements (SLAs) and recognise that apps need to be secured.

According to his blog, the best practice for cloud application design and configuration is to build resiliency into the application rather than expect it from the cloud platform.

“This way you can achieve any SLA regardless of the base agreement provided by the cloud platform,” he said.

“What’s the value of having your sourcing and vendor management team negotiate a high and tight SLA from the cloud vendor when only 10 per cent of the applications deployed there need that level of protection?”

Cloud economics

According to Staten, IT leaders will also get realistic about cloud cost modelling. He urged people to “do the math” and understand the economics of cloud first before implementing it.

“If you want to get the best return on investment [ROI] out of your use of cloud services and platforms, you need to actively model the cost profile of your apps, monitor their resource use and adjust accordingly,” he said.

In addition, Staten said that while cloud services are highly standardised and automated, standardisation does not have to mean commodity.

According to Forrester research, cloud services are now backed by high-end hardware such as solid state drives and other non-commodity infrastructure options.

“In 2013 we should expect to see the proliferation of these types of choices as cloud providers leverage them to meet specific market demands and to differentiate competitively,” he said.

Disaster recovery

Forrester is also predicting that more enterprises will use cloud computing and its pay-per-use pricing mode for long-term data storage while only paying for servers when testing or declaring a disaster.

While Staten said that cloud services probably won’t replace existing disaster recovery (DR) resources completely, he added that cloud is turning the cost of storage “upside down” every month.

“What was cheaper to back up to traditional DR storage last year will be cheaper and easier to put in the cloud is short order as well as faster to recover.”

Developers

Staten said enterprise infrastructure and operations (I&O) teams will need to get comfortable with the fact that development on public clouds is going to happen, whether they “like it or not”.

“It’s easier for the I&O team to engage developers and be part of the conversation about how to do it safely, securely, and with appropriate oversight.”

According to Staten, development isn’t all that different in the cloud as there are no cloud-specific or cloud-best languages.

According to a cloud developer survey conducted by Forrester in the US earlier in 2012, the majority of languages, frameworks, and development methodologies used in the enterprise are also used in the cloud.

“What’s different isn’t the coding but the services orientation and the need to configure the application to provide its own availability and performance,” he said.

Advanced virtualization

According to Staten, advanced virtualization is beneficial for organisations but it should not be classed as a cloud service as it is a “mostly static” virtual environment.

“Your dynamic virtual environment and your on-demand private cloud both have a place in the data centre because these solve different problems,” he said.

“Don’t waste energy trying to make one into the other when they’re both delivering value.”

Amazon Web Services

Turning to the domination of Amazon Web Services (AWS) in the cloud services market, Staten predicted that this will change next year as more vendors start competing.

“While AWS has a 70 per cent market share, Microsoft and Google have made significant improvements to their platforms, and by the end of 2013 we fully expect to see at least three substantial OpenStack-based cloud vendors building strong positions,” he said.

Mobile and the cloud

In the final prediction, Staten said that mobile applications will finally integrate with cloud in 2013. According to Forrester, there are now more mobile apps connected to cloud-based back-end services that can “elastically respond” to mobile customer engagements.

“Cloud plus mobile is a classic more than the sum of its parts combination,” he said.

Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick

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