Last Week in the Cloud: Remaking the Enterprise

Another big week in cloud news, but the story this time around is how cloud apps are having a huge impact on the enterprise – including the devices they use and the benefits they see – and how that's changing the predictions being made for 2012.

2011: Cloud Apps Meet Enterprise Standard

IDC, Gartner, Forrester – the 2012 predictions for cloud computing are beginning to roll out. This week, however, we turn to a look back on 2011. In an article for VentureBeat last week, Luis Robles identified four major cloud-computing trends of 2011. #3 on Robles’ list is, “Cloud productivity apps become good enough.” Robles argues that in 2011 office productivity apps, such as Google Docs, became mainstream and credible replacements to desktop software.

Interestingly, 2011 saw the adoption of these apps not only by consumers and small businesses, but by enterprise users as well.

Cloud Benefits Beyond $avings

The cloud certainly saves IT dollars for businesses that make the switch from on-premise applications, which require expensive IT departments to maintain and manage them. But while pronounced, cost savings may not be the biggest benefit of the cloud. In a recent story on GigaOM, Derrick Harris cites a study by Computer Science Corporation, which surveyed more than 3,500 IT pros about the benefits of the cloud. And guess what! Cost didn’t top the list — which isn’t to say businesses don’t save heaps of money by switching to the cloud, just that other factors had an even bigger impact.

Harris writes: “ … the cloud brings a wealth of benefits around mobility, efficiency and, believe it or not, jobs. Mobility, the ability to access applications and data from a variety of end-user devices, was actually the #1 reason respondents gave for adopting cloud computing.”

As modern IT continues to evolve, it’s interesting to track how the prevalence of mobile workforces and devices change how companies use cloud apps, and the impacts they see from making the switch.

IT Evolving with Move to the Cloud

Despite speculation that cloud computing will lead to the eventual demise of corporate data centers, new studies show that cloud computing has the potential to actually increase data center traffic, at least for companies that manage their own data centers. Joe McKendrick of Forbes reported last week on a new study by Cisco that estimates that global cloud traffic will grow at an annual rate of 66 percent. As traffic rapidly expands, so will cloud data centers. By 2014, cloud computing will grow to 57 percent of a data center workload. This growth necessitates IT departments to evolve and change, as opposed to shrink or disappear altogether. McKendrick suggests that the best way for IT departments to manage and utilize their cloud computing opportunities is to increasingly become service brokers.