Year In Review: Jumping on the cloud computing bandwagon

Hype around cloud computing reached a peak in 2008, with numerous vendors embracing the technology and touting its benefits. Amazon Web Services evangelist Jeff Bar even coined the phrase “cloudbursting” to explain how cloud computing can be used to periodically manage an organization’s peak loads without actually putting the entire infrastructure to the cloud.

Amazon Web Services, the pioneer in the world of cloud computing, has since been joined by other vendors including EMC Corp. which released Atmos in late 2008, a product that combines servers, disk drives and storage for service providers – like Internet service providers, Web 2.0, media and entertainment companies – offering cloud storage services. Citrix Systems Inc., too, released a similar portfolio of offerings for service providers called Citrix Cloud Centre (C3). And, not to be upstaged was Citrix rival VMware Inc. with its own vCloud initiative. Microsoft Corp. released Windows Azure, a hosting and development platform in the cloud. Open source vendor Hyperic announced performance management technology for services delivered on the cloud.

But although there’s been ample noise around cloud computing this past year, the technology itself remains in its infancy. That, however, hasn’t stopped analysts from predicting the cloud’s success, and of mounting interested among enterprise IT shops who will spend money in that area. Furthermore, the economic downturn has sparked added interest in the cloud given its pay-as-you-go model for compute, storage and other resources.

But with every budding technology poised to take off, security and privacy concerns will become part of the discussion, as policy makers must consider issues like ownership of data stored on the cloud, and whether law enforcement should be granted easier access to personal data on the cloud. Ontario Information and Privacy Commissioner Ann Cavoukian released a report, in May, detailing concerns about using third-parties to host data on the Web, and proposed that identity management be adopted for protection.

But despite concerns, interest in cloud computing is such that enterprise IT shops, like those of Merrill Lynch and Deutsche Bank to name some, have set up their own private corporate clouds in lieu of buying the service from a third-party.

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