Is 2012 year of the cloud?

Forrester analyst Holger Kisker seems to think it is. Today he blogs: "2012 is the year the cloud becomes mature". It's also the year we're all supposed to die, if you believe ancient Mayan predictions. But December is that time when analysts peer (should that be leer?) into their crystal balls and prognosticate about the year ahead.

Kisker offers 10 reasons, but doesn't serve meat and potatoes until No. 6: "The total cloud market (including private, virtual private, and public cloud markets) will reach about $61 billion by the end of 2012. By far, the largest individual cloud market continues to be the public SaaS market, which will hit $33 billion by the end of 2012". Those are big numbers.

If Kisker is that optimistic, perhaps he should be more so. Gartner describes public cloud as one of the "hottest topics in IT". Spending on public cloud services is growing four times faster than overall IT spending, says the firm, which forecasts $89 billion spent this year and $177 billion by 2015.

The Forrester analyst isn't alone looking to 2012. Last week, at Discover 2011 in Vienna, Austria, HP announced a series of additions to its cloud portfolio that integrate public and private cloud solutions into a single, more controlled package.

I won't recap Kisker's top-10 list. You can read it yourself. But a couple more demand calling out. Enterprises have been cloud laggards, he observes.

Microsoft's Office 365 demonstrates just how much. Two weeks ago, Kurt DelBene, president of the Office division, says that Microsoft sees "great traction with small businesses, with more than 90 percent of our early Office 365 customers coming from small businesses". If 90 percent of customers are small businesses -- with fewer than 50 employees -- only 1 in 10 is a mid-size or large business, which represent the core Office market.

The data jives with cloud adoption trends seen by Forrester. "Large enterprises spent 2011 mostly catching up, and by 2012, they will be leading in cloud adoption rates in every cloud segment compared with SMBs", Kisker says.

Something else worth highlighting: Changing virtualization trends. Cloud computing and virtualization rank near the top of hot IT trends. The year 2012 is when they finally give up cohabiting and actually marry. "A virtualized data center is not (yet) a private cloud, Kisker says. "With an increasing understanding of cloud computing, companies will shift their focus from technical virtualization projects to focus on the change management aspects required for flexible business models between IT and the line of business".

Read Kisker's list and assess his predictions as they apply to your IT organization.

Photo Credit: Alexander Kirch/Shutterstock

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