Cloud computing is growing up. It has matured from an easy solution to a difficult on-premises IT deployments that saved a few bucks of initial capital investment and now, finally, to one of the core elements of an organizations’ IT strategy.

What's the Story?

But it has not finished with its growing pains, and in the coming years, enterprises will have to plan and develop strategies around their cloud environments if they are to reap the obvious benefits.

Driving force it may be, but enterprises still have to identify and implement their approaches to cloud computing, which confronts them with the problems of security, big data, open source and governance in the context of IT budgets that were slashed during the years of the economic crisis.

To find out what is happening in cloud computing, we asked Margaret Dawson, vice president of product marketing and cloud evangelist for HP Cloud. Here is what she identified as the major trends in cloud computing over the medium term and how she expects enterprises to deal with them.

1. Hybrid Computing

According to Dawson, the biggest practical problem that enterprises are facing at the moment is hybrid cloud computing. Hybrid solutions are currently being defined in two ways:

  1. Any two kinds of clouds together in a single IT environment. The most common situation is where you’ve got an enterprise that is working with a private cloud and elements of a public cloud. It becomes properly hybrid when you are trying to share data or applications or have a common management policy across these the two clouds.
  2. Cloud computing and traditional IT in the same enterprise. From a CIO perspective, that’s really what they mean when they are talking about hybrid cloud computing.

The problem, she said, is that most enterprises have arrived at the point where they can legitimately describe their IT environment as hybrid. If this appears to be a major step forward, the reality is somewhat different. Enterprises have developed hybrid environments, but they are not the environments they originally set out to create.

The A-Ha! moment that I have had with customers over the past few months is that while they may be there, they are not necessarily at a hybrid state that is effectively managed, or they feel that they control. In fact, I think many are beginning to become aware of the fact that there is a lot of cloud out there in their enterprise that they don’t necessarily control."

Here she is specifically talking about the development of rogue clouds or rogue applications. Rogue cloud is defined by IT security firm Symantec as business groups that offer public cloud applications which are not managed by or integrated into a company’s IT infrastructure.

The problems here are obvious. If your IT department doesn’t control what applications enterprise users are working with, they have, to a large extent, lost control of their IT environment.

What HP is working on at the moment, she said, is bringing clients around to a point where they face up to the reality of this situation and deal with the rogues.

We have managed to get to a point where IT managers are saying: I know I’ve got these rogue clouds, do I care or do I not care? What data is involved here? Is it just developers doing some pilot applications or is it an employee using some cloud collaboration app and I don’t know what information has just walked out the door?

From a HP perspective, our goal is to help enterprises manage these hybrid environments. Even organizationally we have restructured so that anything that is cloud has been pulled together in the single business use with a single sales team that is selling the cloud. We have public cloud, private cloud, and vertical cloud solutions."

2. Open Stack

There is growing interest in OpenStack cloud computing. She said more and more enterprises are responsive to this, especially in the context of creating more open IT environments.

According to OpenStack, its goal its goal is to produce an ubiquitous open source cloud computing platform that will meet the needs of public and private clouds regardless of size, by being simple to implement and massively scalable.

Predominantly acting as an infrastructure as a service (IaaS) platform, it is free and open-source software released under the terms of the Apache License.

HP predicts that in 2014 OpenStack will take a clear lead in the open source cloud race, solidifying its position in the enterprise. Dawson says they are already working with customers that are actively pursuing this track.