Suhas Sreedhar| Forbes

Cloud computing took companies by storm this year, with nearly 60 percent of current small-to-medium businesses using cloud services and 72 percent of them virtualizing significant portions of their servers.

2014 promises even bigger growth as cloud technologies expand on every front from infrastructure and software-as-a-service to customized security and platform independence. Here are seven major cloud computing developments to watch for in the upcoming year.

1. Hybrid Clouds

There might finally be an end to the heated debates over public cloud vs. private cloud architecture in enterprise IT. The rise of hybrid clouds – architectures that combine the security of private clouds with the powerful, scalable, and cost-effective benefits of public clouds — should encourage many businesses to adopt a cloud-based infrastructure. Hybrid clouds open up a range of customizable solutions for IT decision-makers, while keeping both security hawks and big data advocates happy.

2. The Industrial Internet Takes Off

Look for the Industrial Internet (a.k.a. the Internet of Things) to start transforming operations in 2014, as solutions combining intelligent machines, big data analytics, and end-user applications begin to roll out across major industries. Cloud computing platforms will play a big role in creating the next generation of intelligent, software-defined machines that are operable and controllable entirely from centralized, remote locations.

3. Web-powered Apps

If scalability and efficiency are among the key benefits of cloud computing, then developing cloud-based applications that are platform-agnostic is essential. With efforts like giving new life to HTML5 through JavaScript, the Web will become a major platform for cloud-based applications.

4. BYOD and the Personal Cloud in Enterprise IT

The BYOD movement is already hitting enterprise environments and is expected to expand in 2014. As end-users put more of their own data into personal cloud services for syncing, streaming, and storage, IT executives are finding ways to incorporate personal cloud services in the enterprise environment through techniques such as Mobile Device Management.

5. Platforms-as-a-Service Continue to Grow

More companies will be looking to adopt PaaS solutions in the upcoming years. PaaS allows businesses to lower IT costs while speeding up application development through more efficient testing and deployment. According to analyst firm IDC, the PaaS market is expected to grow from $3.8 billion to $14 billion by 2017.

6. Graphics as a Service

Running high-end graphics applications typically requires massive hardware infrastructure, but cloud computing is changing that. With emerging cloud-based graphics technologies by companies like AMD and NVIDIA, end-users will run graphically intense applications using nothing more than an HTML5 web browser.

7. Identity Management in the Cloud

Cloud services offer accessibility, convenience, high-power, and redundancy, but with cloud-based applications taking over businesses, there’s a need to rethink security policies. Look for identity management solutions to bring new paradigms of security to the cloud in 2014.



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