Ravi Gururaj

"Top Five Cloud Technology Trends for 2012 "

Ravi Gururaj
Vice President of Products - Cloud Platforms Group
Ravi Gururaj is Vice President Products in the Cloud Platforms Group at Citrix Systems Inc. and has over twenty years of technology product development, management and marketing experience. Ravi is a member of the Citrix CTO Office, is responsible for regional coordination of the Citrix Startup Accelerator Program in India and serves on the Citrix India R&D engineering leadership team. He is Charter Member of the Bangalore Chapter of TiE and is a frequent speaker on the topics of enterprise-grade virtualization, cloud computing, and entrepreneurship and industry, academic and community events. Ravi joined Citrix Inc. in 2010 through the acquisition of VMLogix Inc, a Bain Capital Ventures & Trilogy funded cloud computing start-up which Ravi founded here in Bangalore. Ravi received an MBA with high distinction from Harvard Business School, where he was elected a Baker Scholar, and graduated with honors from the University of Pennsylvania, as a Benjamin Franklin Scholar in the Management and Technology (M&T) program.

The Cloud Computing industry had an amazing year in 2011 and everyone involved, rode the cloud wave up the hype cycle at every possible opportunity. Gartner captured the momentum right in forecasting core cloud technologies such as PaaS and IaaS had ascended past the "Peak of Inflated Expectations" and were now headed into the "Trough of Disillusionment" phase!

Cloud consumers have stated loud and clear they plan to seek "reality over hype" in 2012. It is shaping up to be a watershed year for the industry and those who focus on contributing accurate, realistic and relevant solutions will transcend the noise of the hype cycle to successfully close substantial sales, garner loyal customers and build out tremendously large deployment footprints.

It seems apparent that in such an evolving and uncertain growth environment, coherence, completeness and credibility of cloud offerings will prove critical to success. In that vein, here are five cloud trends worth noting when planning your cloud strategy for 2012:

1. Massive Device Tsunami Hits the Cloud:

The past year saw a wave of consumer devices and services surface in the enterprise. In 2012, that trend threatens to turn into a raging unstoppable tsunami of devices of all sizes and brands. The BYO (bring-your-own) concept will swiftly emerge as the de-facto IT policy for not just a new breed of Gen-Y info worker but also for the general populace and all categories of employee laptop, tablet and phone devices. This device fragmentation and decreased IT control will bring front and center the need for federated identity management (think single centralized sign-on across on-premise enterprise apps, corporate SaaS portals and personal cloud services), effective end-point device abstraction (think floating virtualized "webtop / desktop" in the cloud), overlay of various security envelopes (think remote kill switches and encrypted partitioned logical file partitions which secure corporate data on personal devices) and improved wireless connectivity (think 3G tethered last mile VPCs).

2. Cloud Gets Up Close and Personal:

The device tsunami combined with massive growth in the smorgasbord of cloud-centric services such as storage, email, collaboration, social media, give rise to a true exemplar shift in computing technology. In 2012 we will stand witness to the emergence of a new virtual computing experience, based on the "personal cloud" concept, which will redefine and merge the computing experience around a users personal and workplace computing environments. Applications, data and identity will be enabled to "roam" securely and seamlessly across all of an individuals devices and locations in this new always-on, always-connected topological world.

The new year will see rapid growth in the personal cloud ecosystem, further accelerated by new offerings like Apples iCloud, new updated cloud services from both Google and Microsoft, the latest Amazon tablet launches and of course continued hyper growth and mash-up of personal cloud based consumer services from upstarts such as DropBox, Evernote, and the more established social media gorilla Facebook who wants to take home a decent size pie of the cloud cake as well.

3. Cloud Grows Global:

Cloud will play an even greater role in the amplifying of economies around the world as the migration of workloads onto the cloud is expected to increase dramatically with increased trust and adoption of cloud platforms. Worldwide growth is expected in the volume of corporeal servers being shipped into public cloud infrastructure providers which logically results in a corresponding magnified growth in sales of virtual servers to the end customers of those cloud infrastructure services.

Major telecommunications and data center operators across various industries within the US, Europe and Asia-Pacific markets now see cloud computing and virtualised services as business drivers of considerable importance. Operators of businesses now have the opportunity to acquire services such as disaster revitalization functionality, converged communications, enterprise messaging and ISP services & security via a pure utility pay-per-use business model. The simple fact is that managers the world over are attracted to the inherent flexibility and resilience of cloud services architectures and offerings, the elimination of massive upfront capital expenses and they are mandated with imperatives to leverage cloud to realize improved competitiveness and drive greater productivity within their organizations. Successful adoption of cloud technologies will prove the difference between an enterprise that simply survives and one that competes effectively and generates healthy growing profits.

4. Cloud Networking Accelerates, Optimizes and Innovates:

Massive growth in cloud traffic is projected for 2012 along with significant unpredictability of traffic patterns and spikes. Traffic growth within the cloud, which represents the vast majority of the overall traffic, is placing unprecedented load on intra-cloud networking fabrics as we achieve super high levels of compute densities, throttle up into many multiple 10G streams per chassis and face the insatiability of big data and multi-media content rich consumer cloud applications. Likewise traffic growth between clouds in support of emerging inter-cloud bursting, DR/BCP, sideways replication and innovative infrastructure federation scenarios will tax existing WAN and backbone connectivity to the hilt. Lastly, traffic beyond the cloud to the end user across the last mile both wired and wireless is experiencing hyper growth and remains the weakest link in the end-to-end cloud fabric.  

Improving the speed, reliability and predictability of bit flows throughout the networking topologies which support the cloud, ultimately determines the end users overall perception of cloud performance and reliability. All of this projected traffic growth gives rise to tremendous opportunities for innovation to help optimize, accelerate and improve reliability of WAN/LAN protocols, content delivery management, application delivery and end-point technologies to ultimately deliver a superior and higher fidelity end user experience.

5. Cloud Service Brokers Emerge:

This past year saw rapid proliferation in cloud offerings worldwide, across all niches and specialty use cases and in growth of tiered infrastructure and value added services from all large services providers. This fragmentation of cloud offerings into a multitude of complex disparate offerings will inevitably give rise to a new breed of "cloud services broker" operator in 2012.

These broker firms will seek to aggregate, integrate, customize, federate and govern cloud services from numerous vendors worldwide into more standard or "normalized" offerings which cloud consumers (end users and enterprises alike) could subscribe to using a standardized operational methodology and service contract terms. These brokers not just act as aggregation intermediaries but will also seek to become market makers who offer purpose built trading platforms for pricing, capacity and performance discovery of cloud services which can then be transacted in bulk and for varied terms at wholesale prices akin to how the telecom segment has handled bandwidth and telecom services.

The evolution and emergence of these cloud brokerages will presumably lead to more predictable cost management, improved capacity visibility, performance guarantees, neutral arbitration of SLAs/disputes, consistent monitoring standards, a transparent QoS rating system and efficient price discovery. The benefits of these new systems will accrue to both the producer and consumer in the cloud, helping fuel more efficient and frictionless growth and adoption rates in 2012.

The current cloud computing space remains nascent, wide open to innovation and growing rapidly - all factors which point to 2012 holding immense opportunities for all us involved in the cloud computing industry.