All you wanted to know about cloud computing and didn’t know how to ask

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Like all buzzwords, cloud computing is widely known but not always understood.

To many businesses that are actually the target for such cloud services, things are, well, cloudy. Even resident IT professionals find it hard to analyse the full range of cloud computing benefits, not to mention assess its future.

Is it the only way for the future? Is it all about saving costs? Or does it offer other benefits? How does cloud computing fit into existing IT infrastructure?

The IT think tank Ovum has published three reports on cloud computing as part of its annual “trends to watch reports.” The reports are expected to cut through some of the clutter and help IT heads and businesses understand what is widely seen as a pervasive thing of the future.

Here are the Top 10 things suggested by the reports, and Laurent Lachan, Ovum’s resident expert on cloud computing:

  • Cloud computing in all its guises (public, private, and hybrid) is building momentum, evolving fast and becoming increasingly “enterprise-grade.”
  • Enterprise customers must consider cloud as part of the future state of their corporate IT. The drumbeat around cloud’s promise is simply too loud to ignore.
  • Cloud computing can bring together two hitherto irreconcilable IT challenges: reduce costs and boost innovation.
  • Vendors and enterprises will succeed in making it work in 2013, both on their own and as part of increasingly complex ecosystems. But too many enterprises will work at ‘cloud computing-enabling IT’ rather than ‘transforming the business via cloud computing.’
  • Cloud computing is barely at its adolescence and will take at least another five years to mature.
  • 2013 will see the emergence of a cloud-computing ecosystem at a variety of levels –from marketplaces to federations, backed by increasingly sophisticated ways to define, manage and monetize APIs and increasingly complex channel networks.
  • Cloud computing services “offer a new way to accelerate participation in the rapidly evolving social networking and mobile solution ecosystems of the Internet age.”
  • Cloud computing will connect with and fuel other industry trends such as the Internet of Things (machine-to-machine communication and data processing, cloud computing-based smart cities, TVs or cars projects), open government data, consumerisation of IT (with a variety of cross-device content centric public clouds, such as the one provided by Apple), and, last but not least, Big Data.
  • The rise of cloud computing is part of a bigger trend: the rise of the digital economy. Taken together, these two trends result in a shift in value creation from software to data and services.
  • While cost remains a driving factor for many cloud services investments, some customers are beginning to consider cloud more strategically, in terms of what it could mean for improving business processes, entering new markets and geographies, and increasing overall business efficiency. Using cloud services more strategically also has implications for how these services are managed, governed, and ultimately integrated with existing IT assets and other cloud services.

(The three Ovum reports are:

2013 Trends to Watch: “Private and Public Clouds” drills downs into not only private and public cloud trends, but also infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), platform-as-a-service (PaaS), and software-as-a-service (SaaS) trends.

2013 Trends to Watch: “Cloud Services” looks at cloud computing from the point of view of IT service providers.

2013 Trends to Watch: “Cloud Computing” looks at the way cloud service providers and consumers adapt to cloud computing both on their own and as part of increasingly sophisticated cloud ecosystems.) 

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