While I am sure there will be many exciting cloud computing developments in the coming year, perhaps the most exciting one will be that cloud computing will no longer be exciting. As case studies of the benefits of cloud are beginning to surface in even the most conservative and security conscious of domains such as healthcare, government, and accounting, its benefits are certainly becoming much more broadly understood. Thus, cloud itself will not be that exciting. With that as context, here are a few things I expect might happen in 2013:
1. The year of community clouds
Community clouds provide service to members of groups with shared objectives or constraints. It is in the context of the latter that I believe the popularity of community clouds will rise in 2013. Organizations with common challenges such as the security and compliance constraints compliance shared by healthcare organizations can better address those requirements by leveraging the high caliber resources and personnel that community clouds can provide.
In addition, it will become more widely understood that community clouds of sufficient size can provide most, if not all, of the economic benefits of public clouds. Public cloud providers will also realize this presents good business opportunities and they will begin to increase their specialized, community, or vertical cloud offerings.
2. Brace for brokers
Though still nascent, next year I expect to see some (cloud) service brokers emerge. While it won't become the dominant model in 2013, I do expect that organizations will — consciously or subconsciously — begin preparing for that it. They will start to think harder about service level agreements (SLAs) and service models that support it. Brokers who provide "one throat to grab" SLAs will become increasingly attractive as organizations become more comfortable with the various types of services they should acquire from the cloud, and as the service landscape becomes even more complex.
In larger enterprises, savvy IT leaders and CIOs will begin to adopt the broker role; and that transition may be imperceptible to most. We will also see the return of an emphasis on service-oriented architectures (SOA) that provide flexibility and enable businesses to get the most from cloud services.
3. SLAs take center stage
The buzz surrounding cloud SLAs has begun to increase of late. I expect discussion and debate over cloud SLAs to reach a crescendo in the coming year. As businesses of all sizes begin to further leverage cloud services they will get serious about SLAs and how to measure them. A serious or spectacular service related event (good or bad) may serve as the impetus for increased focus. Larger enterprises — which have lots of experience creating and negotiating both sides of SLAs — will help drive discipline, completeness, and sanity to cloud SLAs; as will the large providers they have long trusted, as those providers increase their cloud service offerings.
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