An industry analysis by Gartner foresees the year of 2016 to be a defining moment for the cloud and cloud service providers as they continue to prove their value to businesses and IT professionals.

According to a recent Gartner press release, cloud computing is expected to account for the majority of IT spending by 2016 as the private cloud begins to yield to more hybrid models. However, InfoWorld contributor David Linthicum opined that the evolving environment of enterprises will likely need to encompass a "multicloud reality," where a mix of hybrid, private and public platforms will be necessary to meet increasingly complex business requirements.

The scalability and services that can be provided through cloud deployments, as well as the flexibility it affords businesses when making decisions on how they'll acquire or deliver IT services without the obstacles associated with software and hardware licensing models, have all contributed to this trend, noted Gartner research vice president Chris Howard in a recent Telecom​ Tiger publication.

"Services delivered through the cloud will foster an economy based on delivery and consumption of everything from storage to computation to video to finance deduction management," said Howard, according to the source.

While Linthicum wrote that some of the predicted growth will come from companies that remarket their traditional IT service offerings as the cloud – i.e., "cloud washing" – most of the gains will result from the migration of business applications to cloud-based platforms. In 2008, many CIOs refrained from such deployments due to a variety of concerns. But, by 2016, it will be mostly business units that will push for cloud adoption as they search for more economical computing methods with increased agility and reduced time to market.

Developing cloud computing strategies
The importance of a cost-effective approach, many argue, will lead to a greater focus on infrastructure-based solutions through services offered by infrastructure-as-a-service  cloud providers. However, much of the growth will be attributed to application development that takes advantage of the relatively low cost of cloud infrastructure.

Howard noted that the private cloud is the most popular model today among businesses, but that it's not appropriate for all services. And while the majority of large and midsize enterprises deploy private platforms, companies must break down their cloud computing strategies into two IT-centric work steams, two supporting IT workloads and one for strategic business processes.

IT-centric work streams
Enterprise as a consumer of cloud services

  • Focus is on IT-related capabilities as they're delivered as a service. The goal here is to determine when, where, why and how services should be deployed, while hardware and software aspects are handled by the cloud service provider.

Enterprise as a provider of cloud services

  • Focus transfers to how hardware, software and processes are used to implement cloud services.

Supporting IT work streams

  • Securing and managing cloud services and developing solutions around them. 
  • There must be software and appliances in place to help jumpstart the use of cloud services – e.g., provisioning onto a cloud infrastructure service.

Strategic business work stream

  • "Besides being a consumer of cloud services or a provider of cloud services to an internal audience there are opportunities to use the cloud delivery model to provide services to customers and business partners," according to Telecom​ Tiger. "IT should partner with the business to explore where the service delivery model, agility and elasticity attributes of the cloud style of computing support business optimization and innovation."