The 10 Biggest Cloud Stories Of 2012

Cloud Battle Lines Are Drawn

By the beginning of 2012, there was no doubt that the cloud had arrived as the new technology shift, drawing with it developers, entrepreneurs, technologists and financiers seeking to ride the wave.

During the year, new and established companies alike fought to get in the cloud game. A wide variety of cloud service models took shape. Cloud standards emerged, as did the rise of public, private and hybrid clouds. For cloud computing, it was a year of rapid innovation, fierce competition and breathtaking progress.

Here, we take a look at the top cloud computing news stories of 2012.

10. OpenStack Stands On Its Own Two Feet

In April, Rackspace transferred control of OpenStack, the open-source, cloud development project, to the OpenStack Foundation, which quickly added scores of vendors as members, including tech heavyweights IBM, Red Hat, Hewlett-Packard and Dell.

By becoming a full-fledged foundation apart from Rackspace, the OpenStack Foundation can go forward with the development of open, interoperable technology without lock-in from one or two vendors and should give cloud services developers and customers more choice in building clouds.

OpenStack rivals Eucalyptus and CloudStack are also offering open-source platforms to create cloud infrastructure services and are quickly building out services.

9. Salesforce Ramps Up Delivery Of Cloud Business Apps

Salesforce was the first company to capitalize on the software-as-a-service model with on-demand CRM, so it made sense that it was a leader in cloud-based business applications. They announced in April a cloud-based marketplace for government agencies for which they will train 1,000 integrators and partners to deploy related applications and services. Salesforce added cloud-based social networking features to its product lineup in the belief that businesses will move to this model.

Other business apps vendors such as SAP, with One Cloud, Microsoft, with Office 365, and Google Apps are also making big bets on their cloud-based apps.

8. Hewlett-Packard Joins Established Vendors In The Cloud Game

Hewlett-Packard unveiled its Converged Cloud Services in April. Although HP was late to the party, its move to become a cloud provider was nonetheless a major event as one of the world's largest tech companies tied together several of its cloud programs so that businesses can take advantage of public, private and a hybrid mixture of cloud services.

HP's Converged Cloud followed IBM's SmartCloud and Microsoft's Windows Azure, as the established tech vendors attempted to develop cloud services to go along with their legacy products.

7. Telecoms, Cable Companies Play To Win In The Cloud

In October, AT&T teamed with IBM to roll out a private cloud service for enterprises and carriers seeking to leverage the cloud to expand their market.

Technology services company Terremark, a division of Verizon, was named as a cloud leader in Gartner's Magic Quadrant for its combined technology services with Verizon's network for cloud services.

These two companies were among many telecom and cable companies that tuned their operations to cloud services in 2012.

6. Google Goes To Full Cloud Services

Google is taking over the world, so it might as well include the cloud in its domination. That's the feeling of some, anyway.

In June, Google unveiled Compute Engine, a cloud infrastructure-as-a-service that places it in competition with Amazon Web Services and other service providers that help businesses migrate their IT resources to the cloud.

The step made sense for Google as Compute Engine leverages the company’s worldwide data centers and infrastructure.

The company already offers a suite of cloud-based products and services, including Google App Engine, Google Drive and Google Docs. With Compute Engine, Google can now become a full-service, cloud-based technology provider, an outcome endorsed by Google partners.

5. Software-Defined Networking Ushers In Flexible Cloud Creation

VMware's $1.2-billion purchase of software-defined networking (SDN) leader Nicira rocked the tech world both with its breathtaking price and with the realization that SDN would lead to much more programmable and flexible networks.

Nicira will help VMware further develop its network virtualization and its private cloud services. But before its purchase by VMware, Nicira was a member of the OpenStack cloud standards organization and developed SDN innovations that will become key components for building flexible cloud stacks such as enabling businesses to move from private to public clouds on the fly.

4. Distys Get A Piece Of Cloud Services

It seemed like a natural move for distributors to offer cloud services to their large customer base, and they did so in 2012.

Ingram Micro rolled out an extensive portfolio of cloud-based products, services and partnerships for its customers.

Several other distributors developed a wide variety of cloud services for customers, including D&H Distributing, Arrow, Avnet and many others.

3. Just How Reliable Is The Cloud?

On Oct. 22, Amazon Web Services went down in its Northern Virginia market, causing website outages for scores of companies, including Reddit, Pinterest and Airnb.

It was the third time in 12 months that AWS experienced a disruption of services and was the latest in a series of outages throughout the year by several major cloud service providers, including Microsoft Windows Azure and Google.

AWS said users should follow guidelines and place service contracts in more than one availability zone, but the question of whether to trust core applications in the cloud remains.

2. Public, Private And Hybrid Clouds Take Shape

The evolving cloud technologies and business models enabled providers to create cloud platforms to support a combination of private, public and a mixture of both.

Rackspace, the early IaaS leader in OpenStack development, recognized the trend and launched in succession public cloud services, private cloud services and hybrid clouds.

1. Amazon: 'Old Guard' Private Clouds Don't Cut It

Amazon Web Services reminded the world it's still the leading cloud services provider at its first partner conference the last week of November in Las Vegas.

Andy Jassy, AWS senior vice president, launched a counterattack against "old guard" tech vendors Hewlett-Packard, IBM and Oracle for offering customers private clouds that promised customers all the benefits of a public cloud in their own data centers. "If you go to a private cloud, you have none of these benefits," Jassy said.

Terry Wise, director of global alliances, ecosystem and channel, told CRN that for partners, "there's just opportunity everywhere."

And CEO Jeff Bezos (pictured) said AWS's commitment to low margins will help it win the cloud game in the long run. "High margins cover a lot of sinners," Bezos said. "We've spent 18 years [operating with low margins] so it's deeply ingrained in our culture."