Cloud Computing is going to have a great 2011. It is economics rather than technology that truly drives the paradigm forward. Economics is coldly objective and regardless of personal opinion the shift will accelerate. Look to vendors with business models based on technology services rather than software products to find the most robust and value-adding cloud computing services.
2011 is going to be all about adoption. The economic benefits of cloud computing are crystal clear. It is less expensive for a business of any size to consume technology services from a specialized provider than it is to purchase, install, support and upgrade legacy on-premise software products. Adoption in small business was red hot for the past 3 years and enterprise adoption is accelerating across IaaS, PaaS, and especially SaaS.
2. Private-cloud discredited
Private-cloud is marketing terminology developed by legacy on-premise software product vendors to maintain the status quo. The implementation of a private-cloud requires capital investment in software, hardware and professional services. If this sounds familiar, it should. Technologies such as virtualization are very beneficially relative to legacy implementations but ultimately an executive needs to determine if they are in the business of running software products or not - most companies obviously are not.
3. Multi-tenancy required
The specific definition and relevance of multi-tenancy is widely debated. Many vendors even call single-tenant client/server software stacks "cloud computing" because they are hosted. Re-purposing legacy client/server technology is not cloud computing. Modern consumer and business cloud computing services are multi-tenant from Facebook to Salesforce.com and Google Apps. The shared multi-tenant environment offers economies of scale to the vendor but more importantly it offers transparencies of scale to customers. Transparency in cost, functionality, security, and reliability. The technology community has traditionally created user groups and forums to create this collective transparency - multi-tenancy furthers the knowledge and influence of the community. Innovation can also be delivered across the entire environment rapidly allowing for a constantly improving application - be it in functionality, value, reliability or security. Multi-tenancy is critically important and will be better understood in 2011.
By 2012, mobile devices will be the primary way in which we access the Internet. Android became the #1 platform in the US in about 2 years. The iPad was the quickest consumer product to reach $1B in revenue. The only technologies capable of fully leveraging the rapid innovation taking place in mobile computing are cloud computing services. Your data on any device, in any location, at anytime can only be realized with modern cloud computing services.
Modern browsers like FireFox, Chrome, Safari, and Opera are designed to run web applications. Every day web-based applications become more powerful and many have reached full parity with their desktop equivalents. The most heavily utilized application on the desktop and on the mobile device is the browser. The capabilities of modern browsers will continue to improve and the rate at which they improve will accelerate. For example, the Chrome browser release cycle is 6 weeks. Google is also piloting the Cr-48 with runs ChromeOS, and operating system that, for better or worse, is the Chrome browser. The device is designed to provide as pure a web experience as possible. The advantages of these thin client devices are numerous for businesses and consumers. For some people the browser will move from being the most heavily used application to the only application.