Cloud computing took companies by storm last year, with nearly 60 percent of current small-to-medium busi­nesses using cloud services and 72 percent of them virtu­a­li­zing signi­fi­cant portions of their servers. 2014 promises even bigger growth as cloud tech­no­lo­gies expand on every front from infra­struc­ture and software-as-a-service to custo­mized security and platform inde­pen­dence. Here are seven major cloud computing devel­op­ments to watch for this year.

1. Hybrid Clouds

There might finally be an end to the heated debates over public cloud vs. private cloud archi­tec­ture in enter­prise IT. The rise of hybrid clouds – archi­tec­tures that combine the security of private clouds with the powerful, scalable, and cost-effective benefits of public clouds — should encourage many busi­nesses to adopt a cloud-based infra­struc­ture. Hybrid clouds open up a range of custo­mi­zable solutions for IT decision-makers, while keeping both security hawks and big data advocates happy.

2. The Indu­strial Internet Takes Off

Look for the Indu­strial Internet (a.k.a. the Internet of Things) to start trans­for­ming opera­tions in 2014, as solutions combining intel­li­gent machines, big data analytics, and end-user appli­ca­tions begin to roll out across major indu­stries. Cloud computing platforms will play a big role in creating the next gene­ra­tion of intel­li­gent, software-defined machines that are operable and control­lable entirely from centra­lized, remote locations.

3. Web-powered Apps

If scala­bi­lity and effi­ci­ency are among the key benefits of cloud computing, then devel­o­ping cloud-based appli­ca­tions that are platform-agnostic is essential. With efforts like famo​.us giving new life to HTML5 through JavaScript, the Web will become a major platform for cloud-based applications.

4. BYOD and the Personal Cloud in Enter­prise IT

The BYOD movement is already hitting enter­prise envi­ron­ments and is expected to expand in 2014. As end-users put more of their own data into personal cloud services for syncing, streaming, and storage, IT execu­tives are finding ways to incor­po­rate personal cloud services in the enter­prise envi­ron­ment through tech­ni­ques such as Mobile Device Management.

5. Platforms-as-a-Service Continue to Grow

More companies will be looking to adopt PaaS solutions in the upcoming years. PaaS allows busi­nesses to lower IT costs while speeding up appli­ca­tion devel­op­ment through more efficient testing and deploy­ment. According to analyst firm IDC, the PaaS market is expected to grow from $3.8 billion to $14 billion by 2017.

6. Graphics as a Service

Running high-end graphics appli­ca­tions typically requires massive hardware infra­struc­ture, but cloud computing is changing that. With emerging cloud-based graphics tech­no­lo­gies by companies like AMD and NVIDIA, end-users will run grap­hi­cally intense appli­ca­tions using nothing more than an HTML5 web browser.

7. Identity Mana­ge­ment in the Cloud

Cloud services offer acces­si­bi­lity, conve­nience, high-power, and redun­dancy, but with cloud-based appli­ca­tions taking over busi­nesses, there’s a need to rethink security policies. Look for identity mana­ge­ment solutions to bring new paradigms of security to the cloud in 2014.

-Author: Suhas Sreedhar

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