2013: Year of the hybrid cloud

Hybrid clouds, cloud brokers, big data and software-defined networking (SDN) predicted to be the major trends in cloud computing in 2013.

Gamification is the concept of applying the psychology of game-design thinking to non-game applications to make them more fun, engaging and addicting. The psychological carrots include the need for public recognition and the thrill of competition. The applications in the business world include boosting sales, encouraging collaboration and information sharing among employees and partners, and increasing customer service satisfaction.

There are more than 50 gamification products, platforms and services available on the market including Badgeville, BunchBall, Crowd Factory, Gamify.it, Hoopla, Kudos, Objective Logistics and Rypple (a Salesforce.com company) to name only a very few.

Pattabhiram contends that the potential benefits of gamification to the enterprise, should it be implemented next year, are behavior management, rewarding participation, controlled social mechanics and behavior analytics.

Prediction 7: Hybrid security options will bloom

IDC security analyst Phil Hochmuth has no doubt that there will be security breaches in the cloud next year, whether we get wind of them or not, mainly because of the fact that using hard-to-control mobile devices is the dominant means by which employees are accessing the cloud.

"That is one of the biggest reasons we are seeing most vendors take on a hybrid delivery model for their security products," Hochmuth says. Under this scheme, security vendors are offering - and enterprises are deploying - the traditional appliance-based security products for on-premise access and then enlisting a SaaS product - most of the time from the same vendor to help facilitate unified security management policies -- to shore up secure access from mobile clients. IDC predicts that over the next three years, hybrid deployments will comprise 60% of all deployments, a market the firm says will balloon to $3.3 billion by 2016.

Prediction 8: Data sovereignty issues will multiply

Controversy about the jurisdiction and legality of data stored in the cloud and outside of a customer's home country will erupt as cloud adoption grows in 2013, says Jim Reavis, executive director of the Cloud Security Alliance.

But don't expect government policy changes to help mitigate the problem, Reavis says. Greater customer awareness of data residency options, such as format-preserving encryption, will help mitigate these concerns and technological innovation will have a greater impact on solving this global policy question than government action.

Prediction 9: IaaS-based services will expand

EMA's Corbo predicts there will be an increase in services delivered as part of standard IaaS offerings.

"You will see IT folks thinking hard and long about what other infrastructure services can be off-loaded into the cloud," Corbo says. Specifically, she expects to see growth in the areas of WAN optimization (a service is already offered by a startup called Aryaka and mainstays such as Cisco and Akamai have made some movement in this direction) and load balancing as a service in the cloud (Amazon and Rackspace both offer these services).

"It's not a question of being able to do this stuff in-house. It's a matter of figuring out if it's cheaper and more efficient to do it in the cloud," Corbo says.

Prediction 10: Prepare for more outages and shakeouts

Corbo and Gartner's Leong were in sync on their prediction that if customers are asking the public cloud infrastructures to take on more and more responsibilities, then they should be prepared to accept more downtime as well.

Outages are bigger risk than breaches

"Outages will happen as a matter of course," Leong says. "It can't really be helped when you take into consideration all of the permutations of all the services riding on these infrastructures. There is no way every contingency can be tested for."

CSA's Reavis warns that customers should be prepared for other kinds of failures in the cloud in 2013 as well: business failures.

Since we are in a natural part of the entrepreneurial business cycle for cloud, we can expect to see several cloud startups get acquired, change their business focus or go out of business entirely, Reavis says.

"These shakeouts will have differing consequences impacting the availability of customer data and information systems. Customers need to make sure they are mitigating these risks through a combination of building redundancy in cloud security architectures and performing due diligence in cloud business relationships," he says.

Burns is a freelance writer. She can be reached at cburns1227@gmail.com.

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