A few weeks back, I was on a panel of media pundits asked to make predictions about what might happen in the technology business in 2011. One prominent member of our group, seeking to stake out a bold, contrarian position, asserted that 2011 would be the year that “cloud computing” would be revealed to be a big nothing, an over-hyped concept that in the end is more about marketing than actual technology.
He’s so, so wrong.
For starters, the cloud is not quite as mystifying as you might think at first glance. All of the red-hot consumer Internet sites now dominating the conversation about the Web are built on a public cloud infrastructure. Facebook, Zynga, Twitter – they all rely on public clouds from Amazon.com (AMZN) and others to host their data. As Crosby notes, the public cloud is expanding at an astonishing rate: he says the cloud will quarduple in size over the next two years. The phenomenon is driven by a host of factors, not the least of which is the proliferation of of tablets and smart phones dependent on the cloud to store data. And as Crosby says, consumers have largely come to grips with the security and privacy trade-offs that come with the cool apps the cloud enables.