What you need to know about the year of the cloud

2010 saw Microsoft make a big grab for the cloud, while big business got serious about building clouds of its own

Microsoft heads skyward

Microsoft's future, however, is now largely wedded to SaaS and PaaS in the public cloud. In March, CEO Steve Ballmer claimed that about 70 percent of Microsoft employees were "doing things that were entirely cloud-based, or cloud inspired" and that by sometime in 2011 it would be 90 percent.

Those claims seemed exaggerated at the time. But in October, Microsoft backed them up with the announcement of Office 365, which for the first time wrapped together a locally installed version of Office with Microsoft-hosted Exchange, SharePoint, and Lynx (formerly Office Communications) servers for a single per-seat subscription rate. When Office 365 is ready in 2011, you'll even be able to opt for a version that includes Office Web Apps and no locally installed version of Office whatsoever -- a 100 percent SaaS solution.

On the PaaS side, Microsoft is working hard to push cloud-based application development on its Azure platform in the public cloud.

First announced at the Microsoft PDC (Professional Developers Conference) in 2008, Windows Azure was late to market, becoming generally available in Feb. 2010.

It took center stage at this year's PDC; among other enhancements, Microsoft will make it easier for customers to migrate existing server applications to Azure.

But as InfoWorld's Woody Leonhard noted, there are big questions about Microsoft's ability to execute on its cloud strategy -- punctuated by the departure of its cloud maven, Ray Ozzie, in October. With the rationale growing ever thinner to upgrade to the latest version of Office (beyond 2007) and Windows (beyond Windows 7), there's little question that Microsoft desperately needs to make the transition. How that plays out in 2011 will be one of the major dramas of the year.

Putting the cloud in its place

Not long ago, wild predictions were made that the economies of scale afforded by cloud computing would result in huge swaths of business ceding their internal IT to public cloud services. Clearly, that's not going to happen anytime soon.

Without question, SaaS is rising by leaps and bounds, but it's important to keep that growth in perspective. SaaS accounted for 10 percent of the enterprise software market in 2009, according to Gartner, which predicts that slice will expand to 16 percent by 2014.

Certainly, there's less enthusiasm for simply moving infrastructure outside the firewall. For one thing, the pricing of IaaS lends itself to burst deployments, where customers upload big processing jobs to IaaS providers, so they don't have to provision their own servers for one-off jobs. Long-term arrangements end up costing customers more than buying and maintaining their own systems.

As for PaaS, it remains to be seen how many businesses will want to move their application development to the public cloud. So far, the Force.com platform has enjoyed the most momentum, although many of those development efforts appear to involve customizations of Salesforce's CRM application.

Ultimately, however, PaaS may hold the greatest promise of any aspect of the cloud. As cloud services proliferate, the ability to stitch them together on development platforms in the cloud will yield a whole new generation of interconnected, Internet-based applications.

Tags private cloudsMicrosoftIBMSAPintelcloud computingVMwareOraclepublic cloud

Recommended

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Eric Knorr

InfoWorld

Comments

Comments are now closed.

Most Popular Reviews

Follow Us

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Shopping.com

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?