Thursday, April 21, 2011

Panel forecasts explosive growth for cloud computing

By Mark Helfen

Cloud computing has an "explosive" growth forecast, driven by a better economic model, faster implementation time, and less risk. But along with the upsides, security is still an issue that requires close attention.

These were some of the conclusions or the panel discussion at last Monday's (4/11) Marketing SIG. Included on our expert panel were:

Bernard Golden - CEO of HyperStatus, a Silicon Valley Cloud Computing Consultancy.
Mathew Lodge - Senior Director of Cloud Product Marketing at VMware.
John Morley - Director of EMC's West Coast Executive Briefing Center.
Chenxi Wang, PhD - Vice President and Principal Analyst for Security and Risk at Forrester Research.
The panel was moderated by Sheryl Chamberlain, EMC's Senior Director for Technology Alliances. (More detailed biographies for the panelists are in the SDForum Marketing SIG meeting preview.)

The panel forecast rapid growth in the cloud computing market. In response to a question about which segments will grow the fastest, Golden's answer was that all segments were growing.

"The scale of cloud computing is going through the roof," said Golden. Fast enough that it's hard for people not directly involved in the business to grasp. As an example he noted a recent report from Amazon's Simple Storage Service (S3) that showed that number of store objects grew over 5 years from 2.1 billion stored objects to 212 billion through the end of last year. Amazon forecasts that by the end of 2012 they will be storing 1 trillion objects.

The pace and scale is just "exploding," said Golden.

VMware's Moody echoed this, saying that VMware grew by a billion dollars in the last 12 months.

Platform as a service (Paas - defined as a development framework separated from the operating system) was called out as an area that is just beginning a growth curve.

Forrester's Wang said the Forrester had forecast Paas would grow to a $16 billion market by 2017, though in 2010 the segment hadn't grown as much as they had predicted.

"We expect Paas in a few years to see tremendous growth," said Wang.

There are several factors driving this growth. Scale, and the ability to rapidly scale an application is one. Lowered capital investment is also a factor. Expertise is another - the people running a cloud service usually have a lot of expertise in security and the other aspects of making a cloud product successful

And implementing an application in the cloud helps "eliminate the likelihood of failure," according to Colin Earl. While not an official panel member, Earl who is CEO of Enterprise Wizard, a Paas cloud product, was invited to address the audience.

According to Earl, most IT projects fail. Twenty percent completely "crash and burn." But including being overdue by an order of magnitude, or cost overruns by the same amount, you get to 75% failure rate. A Paas environment lowers this risk.

Security in the cloud is also an issue. It's possible to get a more secure environment in the cloud, because of the expertise of the people managing it. But the risks are never really shared.

According the Wang, "a breach of security is your responsibility." The cloud vendor won't share the cost or risk of a failure. To lower the security risk of cloud based products, you must put cloud products and vendors "through a vigorous vetting process," and insist on transparency and a security audit of your cloud vendor.

This was only a brief overview of a wide-ranging discussion. For more details please contact the panelists directly.


Mark Helfen is a freelance writer, journalist, and marketing consultant.

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