Why 2013 won't be the year of the cloud

Last year saw cloud make its way into the enterprise, but talk of a year of the cloud may be misguided, argues Maxwell Cooter.

It’s almost obligatory within the media to use the start of a new year as an excuse to look back on the previous one and sum up what it’s been like.

For the past three or four years, there’s been a belief that we’re on the precipice of “The Year of the Cloud”, but it’s not something that’s easily defined.

Is this when the majority of workloads are running in the cloud? We’re clearly nowhere near there. Is it when the majority of new workloads are running in the cloud? Nope. We're not there either. Or, is it that cloud is now something considered by every CIO? Again, that's not happeneing at the moment.

Looking back on 2012, it’s not true to say that we finally reached "The Year of the Cloud" but we certainly saw a sea-change in the attitude of many companies.

There are still lots of organisations out there with major concerns (and nagging security worries) about public cloud, but there are also firms who are willing to look at cloud as an option.

Looking back on 2012, it’s not true to say that we finally reached "The Year of the Cloud".

It’s a phenomenon that’s been noticed. In his end of the year summary, Forrester cloud guru James Staten says that, “as the end of 2012 approaches there is one clear takeaway about the cloud computing market — enterprise use has arrived.”

Of course, this was heralded a few years back. In a famous prediction, Gartner said that by the end of 2012, 20 per cent of businesses will own no IT assets and rely entirely on IT from the cloud.

We’ve not reached that stage yet, but the market watcher claims the public cloud services market will have grown 19.6 per cent by the end of 2012 to be worth $109 billion worldwide.

One problem that has bedeviled 2012 - as it did in 2011 - is that of cloudwashing. There are too many companies who define what they're doing as cloud even when it's not.

While we’re still waiting for cloud to be the dominant delivery mechanism in most modern businesses – officially at least, there’s plenty of evidence that cloud computing is making its presence felt in other parts of the business.

In fact, if 2012 proved to the year of anything it’s the year of the shadow cloud – the use of cloud computing outside the purlieu of the IT department.

No-one really has any grasp of how much cloud is being used by large firms that have been provisioned outside the IT department, but there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence that most now have some IT instance the CIO does not yet know about.

In the UK, one of the biggest drivers for change has been the implementation of the government cloud apps procurement hub, CloudStore. This has provided a cheaper option for many public sector organisations

It's instructive to note that while many private sector companies have moved away from seeing cloud as a means of saving money - instead talking up the flexibility it offered - public sector organisations are pre-occupied with keeping costs down and cloud could play a big part in this process.