The pace of cloud growth and adoption remains inextricably linked to the pace of cloud education. Whether its due to security concerns being allayed or cloud definition confusion being reduced, the small- and medium-business space seems ripe for education-based growth. Add in the continued cost-efficiency-based adoption of public cloud by SMBs who are priced out of significant infrastructure capital expenditures, and the growth trend is reinforced. With this overall trend in mind, here are additional predictions for 2014 in the cloud marketplace: 1. Cloud providers will increase cloud security education. Gartners Predicts 2014 document notes that while cloud is becoming part of the fabric of IT, confusion is still rampant, and longstanding beliefs about security and operations continue to "cloud" opinions and approaches. Cloud companies will serve themselves by fostering understanding of cloud in the SMB space. And education always focuses on security concerns. The basic perception of cloud, for many people, inherently bears a stain of unregulated information access. This nebulous term must be better defined for people to adjust to the idea of a secure, compliant cloud. 2. SaaS will continue to make significant headway. Multiple analyst projections place cloud growth in the coming five years at approximately 25 percent. One must note, however, that much of that increase is in Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications, and not infrastructure virtualization. While every company has its own specific needs, SaaS packages address many of those needs, and the simplicity of SaaS drives its adoption. Including SaaS in the definition of cloud further strengthens the SMB portion of cloud space growth but lends itself more heavily to the S of SMB. 3. Windows Server 2012 R2 will level the virtualization playing field. Windows Server 2012 R2 should draw more Microsoft-based businesses into the virtualization space. The new MS release closes the gap significantly between Microsoft and VMware, and with the portion of SMBs running windows, this robust virtualization offering should make a real difference in terms of cloud adoption. 4. BCDR adoption will be a top leader in virtualization adoption. The decreasing expense of legitimate disaster recovery plans will help replication technology adoption outpace growth of other virtualization technologies. While many businesses lack in their DR plans, the urgency of the message combined with the growing financial accessibility and the regulatory demands in several industries is driving accelerated adoption. For any decision-maker aware of the business impacts associated with a disaster, the idea of getting up and running within minutes after a catastrophe will yield traction. 5. Healthcare and financial sectors will face the biggest decisions around migrating to the cloud. The medical and financial sectors remain significant growth areas due to regulatory issues. Electronic Health Records mandates are generating an amount of data and a term of storage that lends itself to cloud usage, and prohibitive capital expenditures on infrastructure force companies to the cloud. Similarly, SEC and IRS regulations regarding records maintenance simply guide many financial businesses to cloud by necessity. 6. IT knowledge will be the biggest hurdle for virtualization technologies. For many other virtualization technologies, the remaining adoption hurdle for SMBs is lack of IT savvy. True virtualization requires true competency, and paying for true cloud competency isnt within reach of some businesses, especially those who have only one true IT professional. This feeds back into the education idea in general: With so many companies popping up offering cloud, and defining cloud in so many different ways, the concept gets muddled in the mind of the average corporate decision-maker, who must figure out which solution fixes his or her unique problem. 7. Desktop-as-a Service will make its mark toward the end of 2014.
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The move was exciting (and logical) as it gave Azure customers the ability to achieve symmetry between public cloud and private. It followed on from a failed attempt a few years later to offer an Azure Appliance to service providers.With the move, Microsoft essentially introduced another option for hosters to consider when it comes to offering a cloud solution and is another competitor to VMware s vCloud , Citrix CloudStack , the OpenStack consortium and other smaller players such as Eucalyptus. As I wrote when the announcement was made: This move sees Microsoft strongly move from being a company selling Azure services, to a company selling the idea of Azure as the cloud system of choice.Id expect this initiative to be rolled out further and over the next few months see the messaging of Azure more strongly centered on the Cloud Operating System theme with this logical progression, foretold by moves over the past year or so, Microsoft will be clearly positioning itself as a direct competitor to the other cloud stacks out there and more choice is better for everyone. Well today we see Microsoft announce a swathe of third party data centers coming on board with the Cloud OS network 25 individual service providers and systems integrators are now offering Windows Azure services. The list is a whos who of the Data Center and Systems Integrator world, with names like Capgemini Capgemini , Capita Capita IT Services, CSC, Dimension Data, Fujitsu Fujitsu , Lenovo, Tieto, and T-Systems. Microsoft has worked hard to make this a substantive announcement. The Cloud OS offering covers services built on top of Windows Server, System Center and Windows Azure a consistent platform that spans geographies, vertical specific vendors and the breadth of public and private options. Talking up the news, Microsofts VP of Cloud Takeshi Numoto said that: Here at Microsoft, we think were the best bet for customers because we alone provide a consistent, enterprise-grade platform that is hybrid by design, and one that is based on our experience delivering more than 200 cloud services to billions of people. With the investments and people they already have in place, enterprise customers can tackle big challenges and opportunities of the cloud era using the same Microsoft technologies across their private clouds, the Windows Azure public cloud and service-provider clouds. Beyond the self-serving nature of that comment, it does ring true yes, Google's Google's Compute Engine has arguably more scale, but not a public/private story. Amazon Web Services is also massive in terms of its public cloud footprint, but unless youre a US intelligence agency youre unlikely to get any joy looking for an AWS private cloud. Smaller vendors like HP (and Dell Dell through partnerships) offer a hybrid solution but Microsoft is alone in offering both massive scale (and hence, outages notwithstanding, robust performance) and flexibility across public and private infrastructure. VMware VMware shows promise promise with its vCHS hybrid offering but thats still a work in progress. Again, a self serving comment but one with validity from Microsoft: Every organization has different needs and different IT requirements for addressing those needs. With the Cloud OS Network, customers now have even more choice in deploying hybrid solutions on the Microsoft Cloud Platform either in their datacenter, in Windows Azure or, now, through a network of service providers. Customers also benefit from uniquely tailored, fully managed services within their local market, as well as a high degree of technical consistency across environments, which prevents vendor lock-in and enables flexibility.
For the original version including any supplementary images or video, visit http://www.forbes.com/sites/benkepes/2013/12/12/microsoft-delivers-on-its-hybrid-cloud-promise/