Structure 2010: What Does the Future of Cloud Computing Look Like?

A panel of GigaOM Pro analysts told the Structure conference today that the future of cloud computing will likely involve the development of shared standards for interoperability of private clouds and services. And that “platform as a service” (PaaS) is the inevitable successor to the software-as-a-service (SaaS) industry that most companies have become accustomed to, with more large providers such as Microsoft (s msft) and Google (s goog) increasingly going after the PaaS market.

Phil Hendrix, an analyst with the Institute for Mobile Markets Research, said that as cloud computing use is ramping up, it’s time for companies and services to provide standards that allow their products to work together and exchange data. “One of the big issues that has slowed cloud adoption is clients’ concerns about getting locked in,” Hendrix said. “The sooner we have interoperability between providers, the sooner that issue goes away, and the sooner we’ll see more adoption of cloud computing in the enterprise.”

GigaOM Pro curator Derrick Harris said that it’s too early to call PaaS a commodity at this point, but it is coming, with providers such as Microsoft and Google pushing the idea and trying to make it more appealing for customers. “In the beginning, the value proposition of cloud computing was that it’s cheaper, and you don’t have to manage the infrastructure and all the headaches that come with that,” Harris said. Providing a platform as a service takes that one step further, he said, and it also allows cloud providers to “take what can be a low-margin business and really add some value to it.”

In the media business in particular, MediaDojo founder John du Pre Gauntt said that cloud computing is increasing in popularity because of the large amounts of data that companies are trying to analyze. “The future of media is one word: metadata,” he said, meaning all the information related to their content. “The media industry is coming to realize that the real opportunity is the number of derivatives you can get out of a single piece of content,” said du Pre Gauntt, noting that a single work by the singer Beyonce recently resulted in 263 separate derivative works.

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