Linthicum believes there will be a rise in industry-specific cloud services. He noted that many cloud service providers have begun to support vertical markets such as healthcare and finance. These industries have discovered that general purpose cloud services do not meet their needs. “Pronouncements by various countries are encouraging businesses in the healthcare industry to utilize certain applications of electronic records,” Linthicum said. “Recently, cloud technology started replacing these legacy systems, and it offers easier, faster, and more cost-effective access to this data.” He added, “In the world of finance, new regulations are driving up budgets and cloud computing seems like a good approach to drive them back down. We’re seeing good investment in cloud technology by most of the major banks.”
This year will also bring an increase in the availability and usage of cloud governance and management tools, Linthicum stated. Many businesses run more than one cloud environment, and what he referred to as a “single-pane-of-glass” cloud management platform makes operating multiple clouds simple. “Cloud management platforms will be a requirement to provide the right level of automation and control,” Linthicum said.
There will be a greater focus on issues such as performance and security in 2014, Linthicum predicted. He commented that infrastructure security is a challenge for the enterprise. Existing processes, procedures and technology are inadequate for cloud computing’s distributed nature. Linthicum recommended a federated approach to infrastructure security, if businesses have not already put one in place. He explained that a federated approach is “identity-based security where they are linking a person’s, data elements’, or device’s electronic identity and attributes, stored across multiple distinct identity management systems.” This method “allows complex distributed systems, such as cloud-based systems, to easily manage people, devices, groups, etc., providing very fine-grained credentialed access to any number of resources, such as compute, storage, data, etc.,” Linthicum added.
The performance of cloud computing systems will gain greater attention as well this year. Linthicum believes that the performance problems companies experience with their cloud computing systems is caused by bad architecture or application design. He remarked that businesses need to take advantage of cloud-native features of applications, such as the ability to elastically scale. “Applications must be designed to take advantage of these features, typically through native APIs provided by the cloud provider,” Linthicum said. “This optimization is pretty much mandatory if you’re looking to get the right amount of value out of cloud computing.”
Linthicum’s final prediction concerns application migration. Businesses tend to take a “lift-and-shift” approach to migrating applications to the cloud, he noted. As a result, applications exist in the cloud without taking advantage of all of the capabilities the cloud offers. These capabilities include APIs for provisioning, auto-scaling and resource management. In order to take advantage of the power of the cloud, Linthicum commented that many applications will need modification and redesign before their migration.
The Cloud Technology Partners SVP remarked that hybrid clouds will be on enterprise IT’s radar in 2014, although it will not be a major trend. “Most enterprises are just getting started with cloud computing. Building a hybrid cloud is fairly complex and sophisticated work, and it uses technology that’s really just emerging,” he said.
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