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What does the Future hold for Cloud Computing in the Middle East in 2013?

George DeBono, General Manager of Red Hat, Middle East and Africa

With cloud computing gaining momentum in the Middle East, enterprises still are uncertain about several aspects. George DeBono from Red Hat provides an insight into the shape that the cloud will take in the coming year

December 3, 2012 2:42 by

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, 3 December, 2012 – Market analysts from leading agencies such as Gartner and IDC have estimated an exponential growth of the cloud market with predictions estimating it to reach a value of $72.9bn by 2015. Companies in the Middle East are increasingly venturing into the ‘cloud’ to boost revenues, reduce costs and operational complexities and store valuable business data online. As we reach the end of 2012 and head into the next year, George DeBono, General Manager of Red Hat, Middle East and Africa, makes some predictions on what Middle East enterprises can expect in the cloud computing space in 2013:

Security becomes more consumable.
If you pay any attention whatsoever to tech press coverage and IT industry analyst reports, you know that security concerns about “the cloud” (however that term is being used at the moment) consistently top the list of adoption concerns. Even if naïve cloud safe/unsafe arguments have mostly been retired in favor of more subtle discussions, there’s still a lot of complexity and uncertainty.

The IT industry is often dealing with new approaches to computing and delivering application services that don’t have clear historical antecedents and established approaches to mitigating associated risk. As a result, dealing with security and associated concerns in the cloud sometimes seem to require true experts in the field, who are almost by definition in fairly short supply.

Organizations like the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) are making concerted efforts to promote the use of best practices for providing security assurance within cloud computing, and to provide education on the uses of cloud computing to help secure additional forms of computing. While the CSA’s work benefits everyone, its most important role may be “democratizing” the process of securing and running clouds so that organizations operating and using clouds don’t need security rocket scientists on hand. Expect to see tools for more easily and systematically securing clouds gain more attention in 2013.

But data security and privacy remain vexing, and increasingly high-profile, issues.
At one level, protecting against data breaches in the datacenter is a fairly straightforward security problem without many new wrinkles relative to the practices that IT professionals have been following for decades. However, in many respects, we are in a place that’s different in kind from times past.

Some of this difference is about connectedness and scale. While security models have been shifting from walled perimeters to defense-in-depth since the early days of the web and e-commerce, cloud-based applications made up of composable services from multiple sources vastly increase potential attack surfaces. It’s a vastly more complicated security problem than setting the ports correctly on a firewall.

Expect the overall data security and privacy situation to get worse before it gets better.

Bring-Your-Own-Device doubters reach the fifth step: Acceptance.
BYOD is one of the trends that some like to cite as a key cloud security issue given that it takes control away from IT and puts it in the hands of users. IT professionals often comment along the lines of “Just you wait. Enterprise IT departments are going to come to their senses and take the iPads out of those darned kids.” (Or something along those lines)

The thing is that those “darned kids” probably include the CEO and other senior executives. And look around any organization that’s not part of the government or in a highly regulated industry and, chances are, most of the smartphones you see aren’t company-issued and provisioned.

In most cases, BYOD is going to require IT departments to do some combination of rolling out new products, educating users and adopting new processes. At the very least, they need to understand potential exposures and come up with a plan for dealing with them. But just saying “no” isn’t a realistic option for the large majority of organizations. And that means acceptance is the only reasonable path forward.

Hybrid shows up in ever more conversations.
IT consumerization is also one component (though only a component) of another cloud computing trend—hybrid cloud computing. Hybrid commonly refers to cloud management that spans both on-premise (or dedicated resources at a hosting provider) and multi-tenant public clouds—although clouds can be heterogeneous in other ways as well.

The consumerization angle is that early public cloud usage was often characterized by users gaining access to computing resources with a credit card because their IT department wasn’t moving quickly enough. Such usage can also be outside the scope of any IT governance practices. That can be good for flexibility and speed but it can have a stark downside if there’s a data breach or if an application developed using a public cloud can’t be easily put into production on-premise.

The idea behind a hybrid cloud is that resources can be made available to users as easily as if they were accessing a public cloud while keeping the process under centralized policy-based IT management, as you can using Red Hat’s CloudForms’ open, hybrid cloud management. That’s why industry analysts such as Gartner are recommending that organizations “design private cloud deployments with interoperability and future hybrid in mind.”1 Expect to hear even more about hybrid clouds in the coming year.

OpenStack demonstrates the power of community innovation.
Openness is one of the most important enablers of hybrid IT because it helps users avoid lock-in to vendors and specific ecosystems. And not just open source but openness across multiple dimensions including APIs, standards and the requirement that permission to use intellectual property, like copyrights and patents, must be granted in ways that make the technology open and accessible to the user. Openness is also about having vibrant, upstream communities that are at the heart of the innovation that the open source development model makes possible.

The OpenStack Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) project is a great example of community-driven development. 2013 is going to see all that developer involvement lead to commercial product in the same way that the open source development model has led to innovative products in operating systems, middleware and countless other areas.

Private (and hybrid) Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) goes mainstream.
Like other aspects of cloud computing, PaaS has evolved in response to the market. The basic idea of PaaS—that many application developers don’t want to be exposed to and have to deal with the underlying operating system and associated plumbing—remains in place. However, PaaS platforms that limit developers to a specific language on a specific hosting platform have only seen lukewarm acceptance.

However, for many organizations, moving all of their development into a public cloud is too big a step even if they can choose their tools. Alternatively, they may simply not want to give up some of the features, such as auto-scaling and application multi-tenancy, that a PaaS can provide once they move an application into production on-premise.

Thus, as has been the case with Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), we expect that PaaS is going to increasingly be seen not just as a public cloud capability, but as a private and hybrid one. Perhaps even primarily as private and hybrid, at least as far as enterprise application development is concerned. There are already some early examples of private PaaS in the market but the trend is going to really accelerate in 2013.

About Red Hat, Inc.
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