2012 was the year cloud computing hit the mainstream. More users started adopting cloud-based services and vendors intensified competition by launching aggressive price wars for market share.
Enterprises and public sector organisations moved away from deciding whether to use cloud-based services or not, to making more strategic decisions such as how to make their infrastructure cloud-ready, which cloud set-up – private, public or hybrid – is the right one for their needs and how to overcome challenges of moving from a legacy infrastructure to a cloud infrastructure.
Meanwhile, cloud service providers moved from offering just software as a a service (SaaS), platform as a service (PaaS) and infrastructure as a service (IaaS) to offer more specialised services, such as disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS), database as a service (DBaas), security as a service and backup as a service, among others. Public cloud providers such as Amazon launched services for newer markets such as data warehousing and big data analytics.
Many providers – including VMware, Amazon and Google – launched newer versions of their cloud management tools such as VMware vCenter Operations Director 5.6; Amazon CloudWatch; and Google Scalr, demonstrating maturity in the segment.
But as cloud maturity improved, 2012 was the year when new challenges emerged – lack of cloud standards, interoperability and portability. Users called for the need for more standardisation, federation and automation so they could avoid supplier lock-in.
However, cloud computing security concerns remained as enterprises that have robustly adopted cloud computing avoid putting sensitive data in the cloud. High-profile cloud outages also remained a top concern as Microsoft Windows Azure and AWS EC2 both suffered more outages in 2012.
2012 was the year when all cloud types – private, public and hybrid as well as open cloud – gathered steam.
Here are the top ten stories that defined the cloud computing sector in 2012:
European Commission (EC) unveiled its ambitious cloud strategy – which aims to improve and increase the use of cloud computing in the European Union (EU) area. According to the EC, the cloud could generate about €900bn and an additional 3.8 million jobs across the EU by 2020 with an overall investment of €45bn.
This 10-page buyer's guide looks at assessing the needs of your business, how the lack of standards is hindering progress and Microsoft Windows Azure, which aims to become an operating system (OS) for the cloud.
Microsoft Windows Azure cloud’s free trial service meant little for IT pros in the past because it was very developer-focused, with just PaaS capability. But with IaaS capability now built into Azure, senior IT managers can put every layer of the stack into the cloud during the trial and decide whether it is right for them before parting with the cash.
Good news for customers as cloud is on track to become a commodity service with big public cloud suppliers – AWS, Google and Windows Azure – launching price reductions for cloud storage services of between 20% and 28%.
Amazon Web Services (AWS) held its first ever user and partner conference – AWS re: Invent – at Las Vegas in November 2012 as public cloud adoption was maturing. Among the highlights at one of cloud's biggest events this year were AWS’s cloud strategy, new cloud services, S3 price cuts, how users gained from using the public cloud and what is on their wish list.
Public sector champions must push adoption of the G-Cloud and make it sustainable, according to Denise McDonagh, director of the government's G-Cloud programme. At the Business Cloud Summit 2012 conference, McDonagh said public sector IT executives should challenge resistance to G-cloud’s adoption.
Cloud interoperability standards would allow IT to move applications and workloads back and forth between private and public clouds and from one public cloud to another. But a lack of established cloud standards and interoperability has made it difficult for users to move workloads and gain the full benefits of cloud computing.
SAP has certified Amazon Web Services (AWS) to run its business intelligence (BI) applications on the AWS cloud, enabling enterprises to gain more agility and infrastructure cost savings, as well as to standardise their use of public cloud.
European research organisation Cern manages the Large Hadron Collider – the multinational scientific experiment aimed at finding answers to fundamental questions of the universe – and found open source private cloud the most cost-effective and efficient set-up to beat its big data challenges.
Sega combines private and public cloud for a hybrid infrastructure that will help it improve time to market and scalability during the festive season, but at the same time will help ensure the security of unreleased games and highly sensitive intellectual property.