As employees increasingly adopt BYOD, social networking and collaboration, cloud computing is changing to meet the needs of both the workers and the IT organization.
Anyone wondering what 2012 will look like
for the cloud computing market can look at 2011 and add a lot more of the same.
If cloud computing is the tree trunk, its two strongest branches are mobile and
Amit Singh, vice president of Google Enterprise, told eWEEK
that the cloud computing sector is leaning heavily on mobile and social in
2012. He said the trend is to move from the
era of individual productivity to one of teamwork, in which users work
together on projects and share content, all through a Web browser.
To augment this, Google is ensuring greater integration of the Google+ social network across
Google Apps, the company's suite of Gmail and Google Docs-a marriage that makes
those cloud collaboration apps more social. As a practical example, Apps users
can use Google+ Hangouts to collaborate with either ad hoc or scheduled video
On the mobile front, Singh
said Google recently addressed BYOD-bring
your own device. In this trend, the
IT department supports employees who use their personal smartphones and tablets
to communicate and share information at work.
To meet the needs of Google
Apps customers that practice BYOD,
Google rolled out mobile device
management software. It lets IT managers control Android, Apple's iOS and
Microsoft's Windows Mobile devices from the Google Apps control panel.
"Everybody now has a computer in their pocket and is connected
to a data center," said Singh. Those users are all connected in common with a
multitenant architecture, which is shared through massively parallel processed
Peter Coffee, vice president
and head of platform research for
Salesforce.com, sees the cloud helping end users break through barriers that previously existed between devices and content. For example, while employees may
not author complex documents on their tablets, they can create this content on
their laptops and review it on the road from their tablets.
"People do not want to be
burdened by what device is holding a piece of content," said Coffee, adding
that making content accessible in a device-neutral and context-neutral way is
imperative in the business world.
Salesforce.com is practicing
this concept via Data.com, where it pulls information from LinkedIn, Dun &
Bradstreet and other sources as part of a crowdsourced database of social
customer data. This enables sales teams to get information on people they do
business with on their laptops, tablets and smartphones before they meet.
Forrester Research analyst
James Staten thinks cloud technologies have "entered the awkward teenage
years," searching for identity and independence in the high-tech sector. He
said several trends will bubble up
Staten said the industry will see a shift away from stand-alone
mobile apps to what Forrester calls the App Internet, which entails
"specialized local apps running in conjunction with cloud-based services"
across smartphones, tablets and other devices. He pointed to Amazon's Silk Web
browser on the Kindle Fire tablet as an example of this trend in the consumer
Cloud outages will continue to plague the industry following a
year in which Google, Amazon Web Services and others experienced downtime. It's
how companies come back from the downtime that matters.
"Your company will survive a major cloud outage," Staten said.
"It happens to every cloud service. The sooner you learn to deal with cloud
outages, the better off you will be."