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What to Expect in 2012: Cloud Computing and Open Source Software

An increasing number of enterprises will use public cloud infrastructure for disaster recovery planning

In 2011, the cloud computing market continued to mature, driven by the development of enterprise-class cloud virtualization infrastructure and a strong focus on security, stability and scalability of cloud solutions. We also began to see growth in new categories of value-added cloud services such as analytics, mobile, media, and finance.

Based on these 2011 findings, in 2012 we can expect the following to emerge as industry-changing trends:

1. An increasing number of enterprises will use public cloud infrastructure for disaster recovery planning.
The ongoing economic downturn will intensify enterprises' drive to find ways to conserve in-house IT resources. Enterprises will also cut costs by improving the efficiency of their server and application infrastructures. Disaster recovery planning places a heavy cost burden on corporations because of the need to maintain a fully redundant server infrastructure, which typically involves setting up secondary data centers at one or more geographically dispersed locations. A number of established cloud service providers including Amazon AWS and Rackspace are starting to offer disaster recovery services.

We believe such services will move into the mainstream during 2012 as companies begin to understand the potential of cloud virtualization, not only to improve cost­effectiveness but also to dramatically reduce recovery times. Enterprises can benefit from significant savings on hardware, personnel and real estate, as well as from the constant availability of a true, scale-on-demand virtual environment in the cloud. The future development of network replication services, which are sometimes prohibitively expensive and difficult to test in conventional DR systems, provides a key path to a speedy recovery in the cloud. With carefully architected "elastic" applications, enterprises may even be able to utilize cloud-based disaster recovery infrastructure for handling additional load spikes during normal operations.

2. More companies will adopt open source applications for use as the foundation blocks of their commercial, Internet-oriented infrastructure.
From the advent of the modern Internet of the 1990s until very recently, open source software has typically been viewed as a hidden layer of code operating quietly behind the scenes. Open source has been widely used to supplement and improve commercial offerings and to implement a "best effort" class of services, just as much of the Internet is still in the "best effort" category. Over time, open source solutions have matured considerably and open source software has evolved from a "best effort" to "best in class" software. In fact some of them have developed great reputations. Major players in the CDN, hosting, VPS, cloud and enterprise markets are increasingly turning to open source products to build commercial offerings.

Why? The obvious reason is that it's a more economical and efficient approach.

But it's also clear that the best-of-breed open source solutions have now established a level of credibility that makes the choice more obvious. Seasoned IT professionals have begun to regard open source applications as generally more secure and trusted - precisely because of their openness, which allows for independent assessment, encourages quality code writing and makes extensions and bug patching easier. Using open source products also allows companies to avoid vendor lock-in, which tends to go hand-in-hand with dependence on expensive (and often inadequate) product support and premature obsolescence. On the other hand, open source products are typically developed in the context of an active user and developer community where a process of organic evolution is intrinsic to the culture. This means it's more viable than ever for many enterprises to use open source to build commercial grade services for today's fast-changing, dynamic marketplace.

It's hardly surprising that in-house developers at Internet giants like Facebook, Google and Yahoo are already using open source on a daily basis. In fact, some of the best open source products are now securely backed by larger commercial entities. This contributes to ongoing improvements, support and reliability - plus a higher level of trust and confidence in using the product.

3. Hosting companies will seek solutions - whether commercial or free - that allow them to quickly and easily build out new SaaS or PaaS services.
In 2011, we saw hosting service providers explore options for achieving better efficiency, scalability and security. As the landscape becomes more competitive in 2012, you will see more hosting companies searching for products, free or commercial, that allow them to achieve true scalability without requiring major investments in new hardware. These products should be easy to deploy and use, so that users can quickly build out a new service like SaaS or platform-as-a-service (PaaS). A prime example is Jelastic, a next-generation platform‑as‑a‑service (PaaS) offering that runs any Java application in the cloud without customary code changes.

4. In 2012, we expect to see mobile broadband services operators exploring the virtualized, cloud environment as a way to reduce the crippling costs of scaling their own network infrastructure.
Adoption of Internet-connected mobile services is expanding at a stunning pace, exceeding historical adoption rates for television and the desktop Internet. Accompanying this trend is an avalanche of new mobile devices, machine-to-machine applications and an explosion in rich media content for mobile. With global smartphone penetration currently at 27%, there's still plenty of room to grow. Mobile broadband providers face serious challenges as they struggle to transform and grow their signaling and traffic offload capabilities. Operators wishing to transcend the "dumb pipe" provider role face expensive upgrades and expansion of their networks with potential costs in the billions of dollars - in order to stay competitive and offer the superior data network performance that media-hungry consumers demand.

In 2012, many telecoms companies will be exploring more flexible alternatives to cumbersome and expensive hardware solutions. What they are likely to discover is that a virtualized cloud environment can grow rapidly, without limits. We expect to see the first new products to appear on this market, allowing seamless integration of mobile radio and voice infrastructure with a virtualized signaling and data offload infrastructure "in the cloud." Cloud-based signaling and data processing technology will give carriers the ability to expand capacity as demand dictates - predictably, securely, and economically.

In 2012's stringent economic environment, companies will accelerate their network and IT infrastructure development with the goals of optimal cost-savings and extreme efficiency: a perfect breeding ground for open source-based solutions.

More Stories By Andrey Alexeev

Andrey Alexeev, Co-Founder of Nginx, focuses on the company’s business development, product management and marketing. With over fifteen years experience in a variety of information technology environments, he is an expert in Internet technologies, IPTV, service provider and enterprise infrastructure and operations. Prior to Nginx, he was Director of IP Service Network at COMSTAR_UTS and Director of Technical Development/Operations at COMSTAR-Direct. Andrey studied electrical engineering at Saint Petersburg Electrotechnical University and holds an MBA from the University of Antwerp Management School.

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