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Outlook 2012

Cloud activity to explode in 2012

Key areas include asset management, security monitoring, cloud service brokering and service stacks

By , Network World
January 18, 2012 12:01 AM ET

Network World - In testing cloud computing services and observing the growth of cloud activities, we've noticed that there are distinct phases that organizations go through in adopting cloud.

First, application developers fall in love with cloud-based disposable infrastructure and/or ready-built app development platforms that circumvent long purchasing cycles and capital asset growth limitations. Then other attractions, like commodity rentable infrastructure, or expansive platforms, become attractive. Sometimes applications are either extended to the cloud as private growth areas, or moved totally off premises.

In 2012, the number of cloud hosting service providers is likely to increase dramatically due to meet demand in these areas. But security and reliability/SLA worries must be assuaged, and that will continue to spawn not only management application makeovers, but also new, cloud-based services for both cloud and on-premise resources and assets.

Along with the standard cloud offering of infrastructure as a service and platform as a service, varieties and gradients of value-added services, especially services surrounding administration, active security and migration services will grow proportionately.

OUTLOOK: Gartner: 10 key IT trends for 2012

We tested products that perform security in a number of diverse ways, including personal identity management, the perennial one-click logon management, but also numerous applications that provide cloud-based monitoring of both cloud and on-premise resources. We expect the number of packages in these categories to climb. Products that add intelligence to security monitoring, such as syslog managers, will increase in number as well as products that monitor assets.

Asset monitoring has become more difficult because of the addition of more and diverse mobile assets, especially smartphones -- and tablets are right behind. We reviewed several mobile device management  (MDM) applications, and found that the convenience of cloud-based controls seemed to trump on-premise asset tracking and policy application.

We see the trend toward cloud-based MDM growing meteorically, and users will interact with MDM applications in more direct ways as the trend toward organizationally sanctioned application stores or resources will grow. The rationale is the desire to vet the security and privacy compliance of applications used by employees on smartphones and tablets, and to contain costs that are negotiated in bulk, rather than in retail quantities for users.

In the same vein, as MDM applications increase their dominion over mobile assets, the scope is likely to expand toward "internal" fixed-location assets, such as desktops, servers and peripherals. This means that best-of-breed applications now running in the cloud will connect with more assets for control, then offer overall audit responsibility for compliance and regulatory control. This segment explodes.

Similarly, we see a trend toward combinations of MDM as well as identity management in applications. Microsoft's System Center is an example of an unreleased but announced product meeting this trend, but it also has competition that's lighter on its feet on the horizon.

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