An enterprise app store for your cloud needs in 2011?

Just as Apple Inc. created the App Store to feed consumer demand for quick access and purchase of consumer apps, one chief technology officer predicts 2011 will bring about an app store concept for enterprise IT procurement to meet the technology needs of business users.

“So, the idea (is) that a business unit manager says ‘I need a SharePoint environment’ and they can deploy that as quickly as you can get Angry Birds on your iPhone,” said Pat O’Day, chief technology officer and co-founder with Indianapolis, Ind.-based managed IT services provider BlueLock.


With virtualization rendering the ability to package apps, O’Day said it’s not such a stretch to imagine an app store concept among service providers.

The app store prediction was among seven that O’Day has forecast in the area of cloud computing for 2011. Here are the others:

The emergence of a virtual data centre in the cloud. Think of this as being more than the familiar virtual machine and virtual app. It’s a virtual pool of resources that will allow IT departments full control of the service they are getting from a provider, said O’Day. “When you think about some of the issues that enterprises have with the cloud today is you can’t manage networking and security,” said O’Day. “You take whatever you can get from your cloud provider.”

Management of multiple cloud providers is a continued challenge, but there will be more options. As enterprises increasingly utilize a medley of software-as-a-service, infrastructure-as-a-service and platform-as-a-service, the challenge will be to deal with all these providers. “Heck, the tools are barely there that will allow you to manage public and private together,” said O’Day.

But while management challenges will be on the rise, O’Day predicts vendors will come out with more offerings to help enterprises create that “single pane of glass.”

Traditional apps will go cloud. Apps that have traditionally dealt with on-premise tasks such as on-premise data back up to the cloud will take on a cloud angle with vendors offering back up of cloud-based targets, said O’Day.

Yet he predicts the added choice will also turn out to be a frustration as the newness of cloud computing in the enterprise means IT departments have little historic references from which to draw. It will be vital for IT admins to know which service is best for their needs and to re-evaluate a service should needs change down the road.

The enterprise gets the cloud. While most cloud use cases to-date have been observed in small or very large companies for a narrow breadth of tasks such as managing Flash workloads or e-commerce sites during peak traffic, O’Day predicts next year will see mainstream enterprise apps enter the cloud. “In terms of entering the mainstream so far it hasn’t at least for the enterprise … in 2011, the enterprise will start to take mainstream applications and put them in cloud environments,” said O’Day

New roles will emerge in the IT department. Cloud computing will infuse itself in various aspects of IT department life including career management. “IT is not going to go away but some of the roles are going to need to transform,” said O’Day. One such new role will help business units decide whether a task should be hosted internally or externally based on requirements and possible providers. Existing jobs such as engineers and architects will be forced to somehow add cloud to their professional portfolio.

Open cloud standards will emerge. Enterprises will more easily be able to manage workloads across public and private clouds—an issue they face today, said O’Day. “Application portability is really the key, so the idea that I can move the workload from public to private very quickly and if I wanted to I could go from cloud provider to another,” said O’Day.

Just this week, Toronto-based research firm IDC Canada Ltd. issued its own technology predictions including one that foresees 2011 being the year that either makes or breaks cloud computing.


IDC Canada’s senior vice-president of worldwide consulting and managing director, Vito Mabrucco, pointed out that although businesses have identified cloud computing as the answer to the need for more affordable and flexible computing, the business case for the technology has still yet to be made. If businesses fail to make the case, the investment in cloud computing from the last 18 months will be lost.


Moreover, the current high-level cloud-speak isn’t exactly giving cloud computing that much needed push. Mabrucco explained cloud services vendors must make it “more real to the specific buying groups” to reflect the enterprise preference for private clouds and that of the small-to-medium sized business for public clouds.  

“So the rules of engagement are changing again, and change they must if cloud momentum is to continue,” said Mabrucco.

Follow Kathleen Lau on Twitter: @KathleenLau

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