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Cbeyond Predictions: The Cloud - What's on the Horizon in 2013?

VMblog Predictions

Virtualization and Cloud executives share their predictions for 2013.  Read them in this VMblog.com series exclusive.

Contributed article by Chris Ortbals, Vice President, Cloud Services, Cbeyond

The Cloud: What’s on the Horizon in 2013?

While it has been viewed as the next big thing in IT for a few years now, 2012 may very well be remembered as the year the cloud finally rolled in across the greater business landscape.  What was once a potentially confusing and highly-technical concept has become the norm, and more businesses - regardless of size - are realizing the cost, flexibility and productivity benefits of virtualization.

While cloud adoption has historically been higher in the much larger enterprise customer base, recent studies indicate a steady increase in SMB cloud adoption.  According to a recent CompTIA survey, 72 percent of small businesses feel more positive about the cloud now than they did one year ago. Heading into 2013, there is no reason to doubt that cloud adoption will expand into even more varied industries and business environments.

So what is next for the cloud among small, mid-sized and enterprise businesses in the coming year?  While true prognostication is impossible, given the ever-changing and unpredictable nature of today's IT landscape, the following predictions reflect the most prominent cloud trends that closed 2012, and set up a formidable framework for 2013.

  1. Déjà vu- Cloud technology has been well adopted by enterprises for several years. In fact, cloud IaaS is considered by some the new managed hosting/utility compute of years past.  2012 was the year in which cloud began to emerge as the standard for IT infrastructure outsourcing for more than large enterprises and the application developer communities.  As a result, more customers this year will likely feel that their cloud based infrastructure services have matured to a level where production application deployment is possible alongside their test and development or non-mission critical applications.

  2. SMBs to Reach for the Sky - 2013 should be the "Year of the Cloud" for small and mid-sized businesses in particular. While most large cloud providers have yet to focus on this market, it has not stopped SMBs from understanding how the cloud can help them meet growing demand to store or manage critical information and processes off-premise, and drive efficiency.  A recent Cbeyond survey found that more than half of small businesses currently use cloud services, with that number expected to grow significantly in the coming years.  To prepare for this growth, cloud providers will need to tailor their solutions to the SMB market's unique and potentially untraditional needs.

  3. Bouncing from Cloud to Cloud - Growing understanding of the cloud among the IT community will also present cloud providers with unprecedented criteria and lengthier customer negotiations.  Businesses that jumped on the cloud in its early stages are likely to have reached, or will reach in 2013, the end of their first cloud contract.  Armed with greater virtualization knowledge, and with seemingly infinitely more hosting providers available than during their first negotiation, 2013 could see the first true competitive customer race in the cloud space, and some businesses making the leap to a more suitable provider.  This trend is also significant for cloud providers, who must prepare to handle migrations via a cost effective and repeatable cloud enablement practice as SMBs move on-premise services into the cloud.

  4. A Networked Advantage - The past few years have been more heavily focused on the technology and capabilities of cloud within the data center.  A recent Cisco study of IT decision makers, however, highlighted that a cloud-ready network is the biggest infrastructure element required for further cloud deployments.  2013 will be a year where the focus shifts more to production application deployments.  This will require customers and cloud providers to consider a solution that wraps in secure, performance-backed network connectivity from their premise to the cloud.

  5. Solidifying the Cloud - The same Microsoft cloud adoption survey referenced above also found that a significant segment of businesses believe their data is less secure in the cloud than on-premise.  As these companies ease into greater trust in the cloud, and with security threats always looming, even more businesses will link their virtual services to a secure, private network to ensure greater protection.  Limiting access and implementing stricter security measures is also critical for ensuring regulatory compliance, which became a growing concern for cloud-reliant businesses in 2012. Cbeyond experienced greater demand for aligned virtual services, as well as migration services, this year to ensure safe, uninterrupted transitions to the cloud, and there's no reason to think this will decrease across the industry in 2013.

While the dynamic nature of the IT industry foresees that uncertainty is the only absolute certainty, cloud providers and customers that keep these end-of-year trends in mind when planning for 2013 can stay a step ahead of their competition.

The sky is not fully clear just yet, but those best prepared to evaluate and properly leverage the cloud will be looking at 2014's predictions a little more confidently.

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About the Author

Chris Ortbals is the vice president of cloud services for Cbeyond (www.cbeyond.com), the technology ally for cloud and network services to more than 60,000 businesses nationwide.  Ortbals leads the product management and development of Cbeyond's cloud and managed hosting offerings, and is responsible for the vision, strategy and execution for the cloud product line.  Ortbals has extensive experience in product management, product development and IT services.  Before joining Cbeyond, he held several leadership positions across a decade of work with Savvis, where he built its Symphony Virtual Private Data Center (VPDC) solution from the ground up.  In this role, Ortbals was responsible for the product management and development of Savvis' flagship cloud services platform.  Ortbals has a Bachelor of Science degree from Kansas State University and a master's degree in information management from Washington University.
Published Wednesday, December 05, 2012 8:30 AM by David Marshall
Comments
Chris McLennan - (Author's Link) - December 5, 2012 10:11 AM

Chris, nice look at 2013. #3 is of great interest to us at Ilesfay (cloud based data replication startup). Another reason people might work between clouds is because they have a multicloud strategy. Having data in multiple regions or spread across multiple cloud providers for the purposes of availability, business continuity, etc is a great way to architect resilient cloud applications. Take a look at some of our key principles on this topic: http://goo.gl/Cv59a

Cbeyond login | Luxe4you - (Author's Link) - December 25, 2012 5:48 AM
VMblog.com - Virtualization Technology News and Information for Everyone - (Author's Link) - January 15, 2013 7:00 AM

First, I'd like to personally thank everyone for being a valued member and reader of VMblog! Once again, with the help of each of you, VMblog has been able to remain one of the oldest and most successful virtualization and cloud news sites on the Web

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