The shift to cloud computing has kept those working in and writing about the computing and telecommunications industries busy all year. That’s not likely to change much as we head into 2012.

Forrester Research principal analyst Holger Kisker , who focuses on “predicting and quantifying tech industry disruptions,” adds more detail to this broad, general statement in his list of 10 Cloud Predictions for 2012, which he’s titled, “2012 Is The Year The Cloud Becomes Mature.” Here they are:

  1. Multicloud becomes the norm – As companies quickly adopt a variety of cloud resources, they’ll increasingly have to address working with several different cloud solutions, often from different providers. By the end of 2012, cloud customers will already be using more than 10 different cloud apps on average. Cloud orchestration will become a big topic and an opportunity for service providers.
  2. The Wild West of cloud procurement is over – While 2011 still witnessed different stakeholders within a company brokering (sometimes unsanctioned by IT) a lot of cloud deals, most companies will have established their formal cloud strategy by the end 2012, including the business models between IT and lines of business for their own, private cloud resources.
  3. Cloud commoditization is creeping up the stack – Cloud infrastructure services are getting highly commoditized with increasing margin pressure year over year. All cloud vendors are trying to move up the value chain to deliver higher-value cloud services. In 2012, you will see more and more infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) vendors offer technology platform services, platform vendors offering software services, and applications vendors packaging business process services into their offerings.
  4. Collaboration will emerge as a key business benefit for cloud computing – Cloud computing is still mainly driven be the idea of resource sharing, which delivers cost and standardization benefits. However, traditional cloud solutions do not leverage shared resources for collaborative processes between different cloud users. In 2012, we’ll see more collaborative cloud solutions emerging where business partners collaborate on information, business objects, or even end-to-end business processes in the cloud. Cloud collaboration will become a key business driver to move to cloud solutions.
  5. We will see the next wave of SaaS solutions in PLM, BI, and SCM – Software-as-a-service (SaaS) today is mainly driven by customer relationship management (CRM), procurement, collaboration software, and human capital management (HCM). All other software segments still have significantly lower SaaS adoption rates. However, in 2012, interest will shift to SaaS solutions like product life-cycle management (PLM), business intelligence (BI), and supply chain management (SCM), all of which will break through a strong 25% of companies using these solutions in 2012.
  6. The cloud market will grow beyond $60 billion – All cloud markets will continue to grow, and the total cloud market (including private, virtual private, and public cloud markets) will reach about $61 billion by the end of 2012. By far, the largest individual cloud market continues to be the public SaaS market, which will hit $33 billion by the end of 2012.
  7. Private clouds will go beyond virtualization – A virtualized data center is not (yet) a private cloud. With an increasing understanding of cloud computing, companies will shift their focus from technical virtualization projects to focus on the change management aspects required for flexible business models between IT and the line of business.
  8. The first cloud brokers will emerge – The cloud broker is a new business model managing the flexible sourcing of internal and external cloud resources on behalf of a company (see Forrester’s “Cloud Broker — A New Business Model Paradigm” report). While the CIO will initially take the role, we will see the first real broker companies emerge in the market much faster than many people might expect.
  9. Large enterprises will take the lead in cloud markets – Initially slower than small and medium-size businesses (SMBs), large enterprises have understood that the main benefits of cloud services — such as scalability, speed, flexibility, and remote user support — are as appealing to them as they are to SMBs. So, large enterprises spent 2011 mostly catching up, and by 2012, they will be leading in cloud adoption rates in every cloud segment compared with SMBs.
  10. The lines between cloud and on-premises licensing models are blurring – While on-premises applications are typically licensed in perpetual license agreements and SaaS in subscription deals, these lines are blurring as customers demand more flexibility in their deals. In 2012, we will see all of it: capital expenditure (capex) and operational expenditure (opex) licensing models, upfront payments, financing, subscriptions, flat-rate- and dynamic-usage-based pricing, and outcome-based pricing for all the different deployment options — on-site and in the cloud.


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