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Cloud Computing and Business Integration Outlook for 2011

What do Virtualization and Cloud executives think about 2011?  Find out in this VMblog.com series exclusive.

Contributed Article By Margaret Dawson, Vice President of Product Management, Hubspan

Cloud Computing and Business Integration Outlook for 2011

Over the last year, companies have been increasingly collaborating and exchanging information with external partners and customers, making B2B integration all the more critical for everyday business success. The days of manual processes are long gone with the future focused on automation and scalability. As companies continue look to for ways to extend the value of their existing infrastructures and leverage the on-demand, scalable power of cloud computing, the industry will see new opportunities to help customers solve their business problems, and allow them to better serve their own customers. 

The following five predictions are what we expect to create the biggest waves in cloud computing and business integration in 2011. Enterprises that can prepare for and understand these areas will be well equipped to continue taking a proactive approach to the ever-changing challenges of their business.

1.    Companies will stop buying cloud and start buying the solution.

Buying the cloud, for cloud sake, was all the rage in 2010. But in 2011, the hype will die down and decision-makers will be more cloud savvy, realizing the cloud is just a consumption model - albeit a compelling one. They will go back to basics and focus first on solving a business problem, and then find a good solution. Evaluating a cloud solution is no different than traditional on-premise solutions, where considerations about security, interoperability, proven technology, customer service, etc. all still apply. If it turns out that a cloud solution fits the bill, companies can begin to factor in benefits such as a faster time to implementation, reduced capital expenses and easier management. Next year, fewer IT leaders will push the cloud as the sole priority, and instead lead with the business problem to see whether the cloud is the right delivery model for the solution.

2.    BI2: Convergence of business integration and business intelligence.

There is a clear and steady march to real-time, with more companies exchanging information outside their four walls at an ever increasing rate. Not surprisingly, companies of all sizes want visibility into this goldmine of information given the impact it can have on their top and bottom line. This is particularly true with B2B integration processes, where insights into the status of critical messages, the successful transmission of real-time information, or details on the most active customers or partners can help companies be more agile and adjust to business fluctuations. Whereas BI tools were once deployed as standalone products, in 2011 more customers will want bundled solutions that include business intelligence as a value add necessity included with integration solutions. With business integration and intelligence working seamlessly together, customers can see real-time trending data, and act on this data to quickly meet changing demands, make smarter business decisions, and more easily adapt to customer needs. This will be the year that we'll see more vendors looking to bundle BI into their solutions so customers can benefit from event-driven intelligence.

3.    Cloud vendors will unite to address security.

Survey after survey continues to show that fears about cloud security are the primary reason why companies continue to proceed cautiously with moving mission critical data and applications to the cloud. While the benefits of scalability and agility are well-known, the anxiety over security isn't likely to diminish in the near future. However, the cloud industry is hearing customers concerns and taking a proactive stance to address and mitigate potential risk. From the creation of the Cloud Security Alliance and its partnership with MashSSL Alliance to promote the use of a next generation SSL standard for cloud computing to new user certification programs, the industry is working to allay fears about security. In the next year, we'll see a heightened focus from cloud vendors on SLAs, best practices and compliance that will help customers overcome their concerns about security, and keep cloud adoption and innovation on an upwards trajectory. 

4.    Doing business the "Customer's Way" becomes a necessity for growth.

In the current economic climate, keeping your customers happy and protecting your revenue base is critical to an organization's survival today and growth in the future. Like any buyers' market, customers are in a position of power and if their needs and expectations aren't met, they'll quickly take their business elsewhere. In this climate, businesses will need to get closer to their customers out of necessity in order to maximize those relationships. To do business their customers' way, they must focus on customer needs, adapt to customer resources, and provide value that will impact customer bottom lines without forcing them to change the way they currently do business. In 2011, we will see more companies recognize this area of opportunity, and find ways to help customers leverage existing infrastructure with minimal added investment, integrate and automate critical business processes, build customer loyalty and positively position their companies for the eventual economic recovery. eCommerce and ePurchasing will have a particularly strong role to play in this customer focus.

5.    B2B becomes business critical.

Whereas, 2010 was the year of social media, 2011 will be the year that B2B takes center stage. EDI has been around for decades, however B2B integration is quickly evolving to become a more critical part of an organization's overall IT and business strategy. Over the next 12-18 months, we will continue to see more convergence and M&A activity in this space, as vendors look to add capability and global reach to meet demand. Enterprises will focus less on moving static documents from one point or company to another, and more on streamlining business processes across and between companies. B2B integration will intersect with application integration, business process management (BPM), service oriented architecture (SOA) and other synergistic technology areas. What's more, companies will demand greater leverage of legacy and new ERP investments to automate business processes and exchange information in real-time with business communities. As such, next year B2B will no longer be a "nice to have", but a "must have" as companies become less vertically integrated and more horizontally distributed.

As we look ahead into 2011, companies will be all the more focused on finding resources and best practices that will best position their businesses for the coming economic recovery. With economies of scale still at the forefront of this movement, it is clear that cloud computing and business integration will play key roles in the future success of the global economy. In the end, what matters most is that businesses find the right solutions that allow them "interact" with applications, users and information in a more systematic, aligned way that delivers value to their customers and drives revenue.

About the Author

Margaret Dawson is Vice President of Product Management for Hubspan, a leading provider of cloud-based business integration solutions. In this role, Margaret is responsible for the overall product vision and roadmap and works closely with key partners, such as IBM, in delivering innovative solutions to the market. She has more than 20 years of experience in the IT industry, working with leading companies in the network security, semiconductor, personal computer, software, and e-commerce markets, including Microsoft and Amazon.com. Dawson has worked and traveled extensively in Asia, Europe and North America, including ten years working in the greater China region, consulting with many of the area's leading IT companies and serving as a foreign correspondent for BusinessWeek magazine.

Published Wednesday, November 10, 2010 5:10 AM by David Marshall
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