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If cloud computing is the new frontier, and mobility is the next big thing, then it stands to reason that the mobile cloud is the next big new frontier.
A great deal of lip service has been played to the mobile cloud. With massive proliferation of tablets and smartphones, the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) revolution and the explosion of apps, it's become a mobile world. And according to a number of solution providers and cloud providers, the cloud and mobility go hand-in-hand. They're the current chocolate and peanut butter of IT.
And the mobile cloud represents cloud computing's second act, and the act where the value truly comes to light by unlocking the ability to access data and apps from any device, in any location and at any time, as long as there's Web access or a half-decent cellular connection.
But is the mobile cloud really something that's happening now? And is IT ready?
"No, they're not ready. But, yes, it's happening," said Jim Damoulakis, CTO for GlassHouse Technologies, a Framingham, Mass.-based cloud provider.
According to Juniper Research, the mobile cloud market is expected to grow 88 percent annually in the five-year period from 2009 to 2014, pushing the total cloud-based mobile application market from more than $400 million in 2009 to $9.5 billion by 2014. And ABI Research estimated there will be just shy of 1 billion mobile cloud users come 2014, noting that "by 2014, mobile cloud computing will become the leading mobile application development and deployment strategy, displacing today's native and downloadable mobile applications." ABI also predicted that more than 240 million businesses will use cloud services through mobile devices by 2015.
The mobile cloud is different than standard mobility and apps. With mobile applications, the apps and the data stay on the device, they're local. The mobile cloud is a portal to an application and data that is hosted on the app provider's or someone else's servers.
In 2011, the mobile cloud more than tripled, according to Chicago-based cloud provider Model Metrics, issued a report earlier this year indicating that cloud that mobile use among its cloud computing customers has increased three fold in the first half of this year and is the top cloud priority in 2011. Model Metrics found than 80 percent of its customers have smartphone and tablet adoption plans as part of their broader cloud computing initiatives.
"The cloud has taken a new shape in 2011," Model Metrics CEO Adam Caplan said at the time. "It's no longer just moving business processes to the cloud; it's about deploying cutting-edge mobile and social apps that enable businesses to change the way their employees work."