OVER the past few years, cloud computing has dominated the IT landscape as the "new IT kid on the block."
So it is no surprise that cloud computing in the Asia Pacific is expected to grow up to 36.5% from 2011 to 2016, with Malaysia emerging as one of the next hot beds of adoption for cloud computing (Frost & Sullivan State of Cloud Computing in Malaysia 2011 study).
As we move into 2013, it is interesting to see how conversations around cloud computing have moved beyond the basic infrastructure and platform to the vast array of opportunities that cloud presents.
Cloud collaboration for example brings together new advances in cloud computing and collaboration that are becoming more and more necessary in firms operating in an increasingly globalised world.
I believe that cloud computing will reach its tipping point this year, as businesses look at becoming better equipped to face greater consumer mobility and trends like bring your own device (BYOD).
This will indeed be an interesting time for Malaysia with the introduction of the 4G LTE (long term evolution wireless broadband) this year which will enable greater and faster access to information from anywhere at anytime to any place. In light of this, I've outlined a few thoughts on what we can expect soon and over the course of the next few years for cloud collaboration.
In 2013, cloud delivery of video will enable a cost paradigm shift leading to the acceleration of adoption of pervasive, any-to-any video conferencing. Deploying these advancements in the cloud will allow us to make any-to-any video connections between mobile, personal and room-based systems.
Asia Pacific Internet video traffic for example, is expected to be on a steady rise, representing 51% of all consumer Internet traffic in the region by 2016, up from 49% in 2011, according to the Cisco Visual Networking Index.
This year we will see advances across all three three key factors that prevented the widespread adoption of video prior to this; high infrastructure and endpoint costs, consistent quality of experience and lack of interoperability between systems.
Deploying these advancements in the cloud will allow us to make any-to-any video connections between mobile, personal and room-based systems while optimally allocating resources depending on the endpoint, resulting in significantly lower costs and higher quality. This will enable businesses of all sizes to take advantage of the power of video collaboration.
We'll also see cloud conversation shift to flexibility and agility as primary drivers of adoption. Businesses will have to provide an environment in which their employees are connected in ways they have never been connected before.
As more companies understand the problems that arise in the collection of big data and the number of employees who work outside the office increases, cloud adoption will grow exponentially. Gartner data shows that 71% of businesses adopted Software as a Service (SaaS) within the past three years, with three quarters of businesses planning on increasing SaaS spending in the coming year.
SaaS has achieved double-digit growth in Malaysia in the past couple of years, nevertheless, it is still an early-stage market. Looking forward, increased government support for SaaS such as through the the Cloud Computing Enablement initiative that was introduced by the Multimedia Development Corporation Bhd (MDeC) in 2011 will be a strong impetus for businesses to increasingly invest in this technology.
MDeC is caretaker of the country's MSC Malaysia initiative to leapfrog the nation into a knowledge economy.
In order to compete effectively in the future, businesses will have to provide an environment in which their employees are connected in ways they have never been connected before - connecting employees to customers, partners, and suppliers real time, anytime, anywhere, and providing context to these collaborative sessions.
This can only be accomplished through leveraging on an increasing set of collaborative technology, and exposing the most relevant data across the traditional mediums of voice, video, and chat. Cloud accelerates the roll-out of this technology consistently across entire companies and their business partners, so they can improve the efficiency of their decision-making and the quality of their customers' experience.
As the cloud and macroeconomic factors increase the speed of business and collaboration, businesses will look to the cloud as a means to deploy the growing set of integrated collaborative tools and gain a competitive edge.
As cloud collaboration moves beyond early adopters in 2013, hybrid models will proliferate and customers will increasingly demand a seamless, uncompromising user experience between the cloud and the customer premises.
Increasingly, businesses will look to a world of many clouds where some services are hosted on private clouds for policy and regulatory compliance or balance sheet reasons while others are hosted by public-cloud providers.
Businesses will move to find a right balance between the two with hybrid cloud models. More than 50% of enterprises began cloud migrations in 2011 and at least 12% of all enterprise workloads will run on clouds (public, private, hybrid, community) globally by 2013.
Over the next few years, mobile phones will connect to 4G LTE networks and be full-featured devices for business collaboration, leveraging on network intelligence to deliver unparalleled quality of experience for voice, messaging and video. LTE provides sufficient bandwidth to carry voice, video and data on a single radio network.
With deployments already accelerating around the world, mobile operators are transitioning from circuit switch voice (GSM/CDMA) toward an all IP SIP-based architecture (IMS) over LTE, supporting high-bandwidth multimedia and real-time applications.
As businesses demand more collaboration over video and social enterprise applications, the support provided by these new 4G LTE networks will increase the quality of communications and collaboration.
This year, the introduction of 4G LTE networks by multiple telcos across Malaysia will bring faster Internet connection speeds to mobile users, prompting a surge in service demand.
Mobile operators must look for strategies and solutions that will enhance their existing 3G networks, while addressing their 4G deployment requirements without involving a "forklift" upgrade.
This includes focusing on the gradual transition from 3G to 4G by supporting 3G and 4G functionality on a single platform, meeting LTE requirements for increased data capacity and improved spectral efficiency while providing transparent roaming between High Speed Packet Access (HSPA) and LTE.
In the coming years, the Internet of Everything will connect people and "things," allowing for contextual collaboration, enabling new work styles, and empowering people to accomplish the extraordinary.
Knowledge workers using enterprise software to instant message, meet via voice and video, and share content with co-workers and clients may also be using social tools, such as Facebook and Twitter, that are not fully integrated into the enterprise.
Currently, a knowledge worker may enter an online and video meeting and not recognise another attendee's name. Today, with some plug-in applications as early examples of a growing trend, scrolling over that person's name may bring up recent e-mail exchanges, providing a small amount of context going into the meeting.
Now imagine a meeting solution that provides even more contextual cues. As you hover over another attendee's name, a LinkedIn profile pops up with a picture, job title and description, and a list of shared professional contacts. A profile from enterprise and/or consumer social software enlightens you to the personal and professional interests you share with this attendee.
CIOs on high
2013 will ALSO "mark the beginning of a new era in IT: The emergence of the Celebrity CIO.
During 2012 we saw the role and demands on IT grow exponentially, and as we enter 2013 we will see this accelerate further. The rise of the cloud and the migration from the desktop PC to the workspace of multiple devices and platforms will start to become central to an organisation's business strategy and operational success.
Successful CIOs will react to this challenge as they are less measured by network uptime, and increasingly concerned with service availability, the impact they make on the business and how they can drive efficient business processes, innovation and business transformation.
The CIO's influence and image will transform through the year and we will start to see "celebrity CIOs" emerge. They will rise like the stars of Silicon Valley have in recent times. Their broadening skills will become highly prized by any business looking to drive innovation, market appeal and share value. In turn they will become more influential, command greater recognition and wield greater power.
As we continue seeing growth in these areas, the importance of collaboration and social interactions in the workplace continue to be prioritised as necessary components of a successful business.
(Yuri Wahab is managing director for Malaysia at Cisco)