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A field guide to the cloud

As the cloud landscape continues to grow, a new report from GigaOm asserts that hybrid clouds may be the most likely use case over the next few years.

A gargantuan new GigaOm Pro report titled "A field guide to the cloud: current trends and future opportunities" (subscription only) was released today as part of the Structure 2011 conference in San Francisco.

The report examines the cloud-computing landscape with a focus on five specific areas: infrastructure as a service (IaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), software as a service (SaaS), cloud storage, and private/internal clouds. And despite the relative newness of the cloud market, there is quite a bit going on.

According to the report, IaaS is driving the cloud-computing discussion but has yet to reach its peak in either adoption or technological maturity. PaaS is the next wave in cloud computing and is attracting major financial investment, though it's largely still the realm of individual developers and Web start-ups. And private clouds are here to stay as enterprises start to adopt a roll-your-own approach.

For those who follow cloud trends, none of the above is surprising, but the report makes some interesting notes, including the assertion that hybrid clouds (those that cross public/private borders) may be the most likely use case over the next few years.

Additionally, we should expect two major trends from private cloud vendors: advanced hybrid cloud capabilities, and a wave of innovation around higher-level features and specialized functions. The higher-level features span a broad range of possibilities, but particularly intriguing options would be around integrated big data capabilities (e.g,. parallel processing with Hadoop), application-level features (e.g., PaaS-like automation or performance monitoring), and support for multiple storage and database options.

In addition to hybrid cloud as a likely scenario, there are a number of predictions that are notable:

  • Commodity IaaS providers will ramp up their enterprise push, and we will see large, well-known companies publicly hosting important applications with providers like AWS and Rackspace.
  • Big data and cloud computing will continue down their converging paths.
  • PaaS acquisitions and launches will heat up again among large vendors realizing they need to stake their claims in what will eventually be a very lucrative market.
  • Contraction will occur in the private cloud space, as large-vendor presence and more OpenStack-based products drive less-successful start-ups to seek acquisitions.
  • Start-ups addressing data-center-to-cloud latency will raise big money.

As the cloud market continues to mature and grow, we've seen tectonic shifts not just in how computing power and storage are consumed, but in the business models enabled by new services. And while cloud services may have some effect on corporate data centers, the cloud is proving to provide a ton of new jobs for developers and systems administrators with relevant skills in the new world.