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Cloud Computing Trends: A Look Back and A Look Forward

It was about this time last year that CompTIA compiled data for its Trends in Cloud Computing report. This annual report does a great job framing the key trends and influences in cloud computing usage from two perspectives: the end-user (IT and business professionals involved in IT decision making) and the channel (VARs, ISVs, MSPs etc). Taking both audiences into consideration provides a welcomed look at how technology impacts the entire business ecosystem – and cloud computing is at an important inflection point where companies are no longer just talking the talk, they are now walking the walk in the clouds.

So let us take a brief look at some of the findings released last year, and make some predictions on what the results may find in this year’s installment, which is likely under way as we speak.  Some things that stood out to me from the report findings:

From the End-User Audience
•    Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) is the most highly adopted cloud services model with 69% of the sample
•    Medium-size businesses (100-500) are utilizing cloud more than small (<100) or large businesses (>500). Large businesses are hindered by internal systems that represent big investments, and small businesses do not have the resources to devote to a full analysis of cloud offerings
•    32% of respondents plan to use SaaS apps for virtual desktop, which indicates a desire among business to not simply move current applications to the Cloud but to use Cloud to transform their business and their IT strategy
•    30% of respondents plan to use SaaS apps for business productivity, which indicates that companies are exploring alternatives to their current Software License Agreements

From the Channel Audience
•    4 in 10 channel companies sell and use cloud offerings, up from 15% last year
•    85% cite moderate to heavy involvement with cloud in the last 12 months
•    6 in 10 channel companies cite customer security concerns as the main roadblock to a cloud sale
•    52% of channel respondents said customer's desire to increase mobile and remote access to company data is the reason they recommend cloud-based solutions versus more conventional on-premise technology, creating a rich opportunity for the channel because of the inherent integration and security components that go along with such projects

The above findings are in line with what I’ve seen over the past year, which makes me excited for what cloud computing, and SaaS specifically, can do for all companies in the software ecosystem: end-users, developers and the channel.  So where do we go from here, what might we see in thefindings that will likely be released later this summer?

For the End-User Organizations
I see continued acceleration in cloud computing usage, especially as it relates to SaaS applications, and reliance on cloud to transform businesses. At the midmarket level, companies will become increasingly nimble and embrace the digestible pay-as-you-go OpEx pricing model vs. the large up-front license fee CapEx model commonly found with traditional on-premise software. The midmarket will empower an increasingly mobile and remote workforce because of the nature of cloud, and be able to respond more quickly to both their employees and their customers.

Large businesses will continue to systematically introduce SaaS applications into their portfolio to provide the functionality their employees demand while leveraging their existing infrastructure investments. Hybrid cloud will be a big deal for big companies, as they tap into both public cloud services as well as private cloud services that satisfy compliance and security issues they must address. The mitigating factor here will be the ability to tap into the existing identity infrastructure to bridge on-premise and cloud applications. Enter Tier 1 SSO, which is defined as standards-based cross-domain authentication. This eliminates the use of passwords from the authentication process into the user directory, such as Microsoft Active Directory, providing the ease-of-use of single sign-on with the central management of user identities that large businesses demand.

For the Channel Organizations
I see substantial growth opportunity for the software developers that can enable SaaS delivery, the MSPs that can offer managed services, and the resellers that can extend the reach of cloud into more hands. By packaging up vendor cloud services, resellers and MSPs can layer services and support that drive significant revenue while tapping into branded cloud services and applications customers want.  Software developers can extend their reach and deepen relationships with customers by providing them with the capabilities they want in the consumption model they prefer. In addition, as end-user organizations embrace the cloud, the channel is in a unique position to strengthen their role as strategic partners that can help operationalize costs while building long-term customer value and incremental revenue potential.

The past year has witnessed cloud technologies take center stage, and those organizations that have infused the right cloud applications and services into their business take flight. The next year will accelerate this shift in computing as companies scale their cloud endeavors, and those who aren’t on-board may be left scrambling.

It’ll be interesting to see what this year’s findings in CompTIA’s Trends in Cloud Computing report shares later this year, and we’ll examine the data in a future post.

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This blog will share insights, best practices and anecdotes of how secure cloud identities can shorten time to revenue for software companies, speed user adoption and increase application stickiness for increased long-term customer value. This blog will include primers on technology and standards while providing commentary on current events relevant to identity in the software business.

Tags : cloudcloud computingSaaSsingle sign-onSoftware as a ServiceSSO