5 Cloud Computing Predictions for 2011

Cloud computing will be impacted by the explosive growth in smartphones and stresses in network infrastructure, among other factors.


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Posted January 4, 2011

Jeff Vance

Jeff Vance

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This past year has been a good one for cloud computing. According to Gartner, the cloud services market grew to $68.3 billion in 2010, a 16.6 percent increase from 2009 revenue of $58.6 billion. Gartner predicts that by 2014, cloud services revenue will balloon to $148.8 billion worldwide.

Gartner also reported that SaaS vendors raked in $9.2 billion in 2010, up 15.7 percent from 2009 revenue of $7.9 billion. The research firm believes the SaaS market will get even stronger in 2011, growing to $10.7 billion worldwide, a 16.2 percent increase from 2010 revenue.

Taking a look at a few major cloud/SaaS players, Salesforce.com saw its revenue nearly double in 2010 to $2 billion. UBS estimates that Amazon Web Services will earn $500 million by the end of the year, while one-time cloud skeptic, Oracle, gave in and embraced the cloud this year.

Both Microsoft and Google continue to invest heavily in cloud computing, although earnings estimates for their cloud efforts aren’t currently available.

All in all, not bad during the worst recession since the Thirties.

I’m not going out on a limb by predicting that 2011 will be even better than 2010, which itself has been a year referred to as “the year of the cloud.” Of course predicting that the cloud sector will expand is easy. Here, though, are five more granular cloud computing predictions for 2011.

1) The rise of cloud computing and smartphones threatens the PC.

This is purely anecdotal, but watching a full slate of football games this past Sunday, I’d estimate that for every PC ad I saw a dozen ads for smartphones and four or five for tablets. No one is excited about new PCs anymore.

According to Morgan Stanley analyst Mary Meeker, dubbed the “Queen of the Net” by Barron’s, mobile Internet traffic will overtake fixed Internet traffic in the next couple of years.

Much of what will drive mobile Internet traffic is the single-purpose app. You won’t first go to a browser to look for nearby restaurants on Yelp, to check sports scores or stocks or to navigate via Google Maps. You’ll use an app that will leverage the cloud to deliver a computing experience previously unavailable on constrained devices. The cloud and post-PC devices will begin to change enterprise computing too.

“Today, 90 percent of individuals are accessing their computing infrastructure via PCs and 10 percent are accessing via a widely dispersed combination of virtual desktops, cloud PCs, zero clients and more. In less than 10 years, I expect that ratio to be reversed,” said Jeff McNaught, Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer for Wyse, a provider of cloud client computing solutions.

McNaught points out that the last few years have seen several shifts in what is the hot, must-have consumer device of the moment, but there is one constant: none of them have been PCs. A few years ago the GPS was all the rage, followed by the iPhone and Android. Everyone was buzzing about the importance of netbooks in 2009 and tablets, particularly the iPad, in 2010.

“Businesses and consumers have more choice than ever regarding how they access and manage their computing infrastructure. This choice is a direct result of a new generation of end point devices, and infrastructure advances in virtualization, cloud computing, and networking,” McNaught said.

The PC isn’t going to disappear, but its status as the go-to computing device for consumers and businesses is under siege.

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Tags: cloud computing, apps, networks, Enterprise IT, smartphone apps

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