Cloud computing: special report

Cloud computing could be as important, and as game changing, as the first PCs. So how should businesses use the cloud, how should they prepare for it, and who are the vendors to watch? By Stephen Pritchard.

"Organisations need to examine their operational requirements and their IT maturity model, and use this to form a policy for the cloud," says Reilly. "This policy then needs to be applied it consistently."

Cloud computing: the outlook

Cloud computing may have grown rapidly in importance recently, but it is expected to grow faster still over the next couple of years.

IDC believes the market for cloud computing will be worth $55 billion by 2014. Other industry analysts put the figure higher, with Gartner believing it will reach $148 billion, although the latter figure includes some cloud-based services, such as Google Adwords, which relate more to media spending than investment in IT.

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As important as the size of the cloud computing market is its shape. Cloud computing has gained credibility from the entry of established computing companies, especially IBM (IBM Cloud) and Microsoft (Azure), entering the marketplace.

Overall, though, the cloud computing field remains one that is largely dominated by smaller players, in particular web hosting companies and vendors targeting smaller businesses, for services such as web hosting, hosted email, online backup and storage, and some areas of IT security.

The software as a service market where vendors such as Salesforce.com but also Microsoft and SAP have a presence is currently more attractive to larger businesses. IDC believes that the core SaaS market was worth $13.1 billion in 2009.

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