2009: the year of cloudy hype

The cloud was everywhere this year

Cloud computing has been the buzz of 2009 and with Microsoft now turning Azure vapourware into Azure reality, 2010 could be the year when the hype actually gets fulfilled.

But that won’t be decided by the vendors.

We have yet to see whether cloud services are suited to the mainstream of corporate and government organisations rather than to organisations with particular needs, such as the capability to rapidly scale capacity up and down in response to demand, or organisations challenging incumbents in particular markets.

Both of those particular attributes made a cloud solution an obvious option for Dunedin-based TicketDirect, which has moved to Azure to gain a first mover advantage on some powerful multinational rivals. But how many other companies are there out there like that?

Other users spoken to this year were attracted by the elasticity of the cloud, but were determined to develop this internally through virtualisation and consolidation. A wholesale shift of mainstream organisations to a cloud platform may never happen if organisations can provide those benefits for themselves and boost automation in the management of their ICT operations.

But some have few doubts that the cloud is gathering.

Peter O’Connor, vice president of storage vendor NetApp in Australia and New Zealand, says 2010 will be the year of the cloud, building out from corporate datacentres.

O’Connor says most CIOs won’t have the luxury of rebuilding their IT infrastructure from scratch, so 2010 will see businesses starting with a hybrid approach to the cloud. This will begin with building an internal cloud and migrating non-mission critical applications to it, followed by identifying a set of applications that can be hosted externally.

“Ultimately, we will witness true datacentre transformation, through the implementation of more and more cloud-enabled dynamic datacentres across the enterprise.”

2010 will be the year when people shift from talking about the cloud to doing it, he says.

“Cloud computing represents simplicity for businesses and lucrative business opportunities for vendors and service providers. Early adopters have already taken advantage of the trend and seized new market opportunities by offering differentiated services and solutions with predictable costs and service levels.”

Another enterprise storage specialist, David Webster, EMC’s president for Australia and New Zealand, says 2009 laid the pathway for businesses to enable virtualised environments that made better use of IT resources.

“This year, we will continue to see virtualisation technologies transform IT into an increasingly efficient, flexible and cost-effective way to deliver services to the business,” he says.

As to the supposed next stage, for EMC that is about supporting customers on their journey to the private cloud. EMC has teamed with Cisco and VMware to create what they call the “virtualised datacentres of the future”.

“Virtualisation is the core-building block for the private cloud and as such this will continue to be at the top of many CIOs’ agendas,” Webster says. “As organisations continue to consolidate resources and drive greater efficiencies and move to the private cloud, I also believe that automation and management technologies will become increasingly important.”

Unisys is picking a couple of “C” words to dominate in 2010, but is breaking the mould by not mentioning the cloud. Customers and climate change, the company says, will be top issues to challenge New Zealand business next year.

The predictions are research based, with Unisys surveying CIOs from government and commercial organisations. The majority, 24 percent, responded that improving customer services and experiences will be the first area to receive a cash-injection as the economy picks up. Environmental initiatives were the second largest area of priority, cited by 20 percent of respondents.

Unisys says New Zealand’s highest consumer sentiment since December 2007 and business confidence at a level not seen since 1999, are building momentum leading into 2010.

Internal costs will remain on a “watch list”, the company says, but New Zealand’s economic recovery will see customers again demanding personalised and efficient services and more competitive offerings.

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