The cloud got a lot more crowded in 2013. Cloud providers, users and enterprises have begun to realize the capacity for what’s possible up there, and it’s a lot more than just storage.
Cloud computing platforms, PaaSes and IaaSes, mobile and enterprise app migration, virtualization, public versus private clouds, hybrid cloud architectures, cloud security: These are but some of the issues driving competition and expansion as companies big and small vie for cloud supremacy.
In the cloud computing space, Amazon Web Services and EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud), Google Cloud Platform, and Microsoft’s Windows Azure and Team Foundation Server continued to expand their application, testing, and deployment tools and services while increasing scalability and elasticity.
In the meantime, PaaS and hybrid cloud architectures are gaining further momentum and prominence, particularly in the enterprise market. Offerings such as Red Hat’s OpenShift Enterprise, Pivotal One, Rackspace’s hybrid cloud and VMware’s Cloud Foundry are adding new programming languages and making advances in areas including DevOps, mobile application support, middleware, and integration with cloud operating systems, with OpenStack being the open-source leader.
Amid all the cloud innovation brought about by companies jockeying for position, the cloud is still doing what the cloud does best: storage. Cloud storage in 2013 grew cheaper, more efficient and more diversified as startups and industry leaders alike improved capability and capacity. Apple’s iCloud, Google’s Drive and Microsoft’s soon-to-be-renamed SkyDrive, along with cube-named startups Box and Dropbox, are each competing for breadth of storage and ease of access.
Yet as more and more information and services shift into public, private, hybrid, or any other kinds of clouds up there, renewed and intensified security concerns have reared their ugly head thanks to our friends at the NSA. In the wake of Edward Snowden’s revelations about the PRISM mass-spying program, national and global concerns about data and cloud security are more prevalent than ever before. Is your data safe from prying eyes? Are public clouds more secure than private? Server location, level of encryption and legal protection are questions that need to be asked before cloud deployment, and we’re only beginning to learn the answers.
But despite mounting security concerns, the cloud migration train is moving far too fast to stop, or even really to stall. The possibilities of what can live, what you can do and what profits can be made in the cloud are seemingly endless. At this rate, companies have no reason not to keep loading virtual infrastructure with storage, tools and services until the cloud starts showing signs it can’t bear the weight.