If you begin reading this on your smart phone, find it insufferably boring two sentences in, then decide to give it another shot on your desktop hours later (at the precise word you stopped), you have a vague idea of what cloud computing can do. It's been around for while, of course, but it's safe to refer to 2011 as the year of 'mainstream exposure' to the idea. Twelve months ago, we weren't discussing Software as a Service (SaaS) or a private cloud as feverishly, were we?
Why this happened in 2011 is a combination of three factors: costs, implementation and adoption. Now, potential revenue from cloud services may touch 80 billion USD before 2012 rolls in. This is still a mere drop in the ocean that is IT spending, but it reveals that more businesses approach the cloud with respect rather than cynicism.
Another thing 2011 did was compel existing players (like Google) to boost cloud offerings while tempting others (like Microsoft and IBM) to create new ones. Old school businesses may continue to raise questions about security and control, but many of these issues are being addressed. Those who have taken the plunge by exploring infrastructure as a service in the public cloud are now looking at the private cloud.
Here's the biggest advantage: If you're a start-up trying to emulate what a juggernaut took decades to build, the tools are now at your disposal for a fraction of the cost. Tempting, isn't it?
Cloud computing is certainly thriving. We are already running a large infrastructure off the cloud, and it has been running like clockwork for about two years now. What I like most about cloud computing though, is that it has given young people with little resources the power to try out big ideas on industrial strength infrastructure. It has empowered poor inventors to the same extent as it has threatened big businesses. Bob Dylan's metaphor has new meaning now: 'And but for the sky there are no fences facin' �
� Zaki Ansari, Chief Product and Technology Officer, Bloomberg UTV