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2014 Cloud Predictions: Enterprise IT Makes a Comeback

Enterprise IT organizations move to role of strategic partner

Enterprise IT organizations today often are bypassed as employees and LoBs use cloud services; in fact cloud computing is considered the revenge of the business unit. 2014 will be year that the Enterprise IT organizations move from role of helpless bystander to role of strategic partner to the business unit. It will be the year that the CIO carves out a new role of strategic importance, namely the enabler of cloud apps that drive agility, productivity and competitive advantage for their business units.  In 2014, CIOs and IT departments will use rapidly emerging cloud security solutions to accelerate the adoption of SMAC (social, mobile, analytics and cloud) within the enterprise and will embark on security transformation.

1. Rush to adopt cloud services will drown out security fears
Cloud security risks will never be completely eliminated, obviously, but security won't be a cloud adoption obstacle in 2014. Cloud security is already on par, if not better than, traditional digital security, and 2014 will mark the cloud security tipping point, the beginning of real security transformation.

The major tech giants (Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, Google, Amazon, etc.) have all placed major bets on the cloud, and the rest of the economy, regardless of industry, will follow their lead. In fact, a recent study found that cloud adoption is already high in industries as varied as manufacturing, health care, media and financial services - and that's just reported adoption.Shadow IT would push those numbers higher.

2. IT stops blocking cloud services over outdated risks
There will be big change in 2014 on how IT copes with cloud risks. The status quo is based on outdated arguments and limited visibility. Today, IT generally blocks what it knows (Facebook, YouTube, ESPN.com). Many of these sites are blocked in order to prioritize productivity (and often to conserve bandwidth). And what IT does not know today generally gets through, which is often risky.

This approach is pointless at best, since it's so easy to find workarounds, and counterproductive at worst, since IT often blocks services that will boost productivity. According to our 2013 Cloud Adoption & Risk Report, which compiled data from more than 3 million users across more than 100 companies in various industries, IT still blocks what it knows, not necessarily what puts organizations at risk.

In 2014, IT will get the visibility needed to feel comfortable loosening the reigns, helping employees evaluate and understand the risk of these services, rather than simply blocking them.

3. IT gains more organizational power due to the rise of SMAC
Not that long ago, the IT world fretted about whether or not IT was becoming irrelevant in this service-driven world. Now, with social, mobile, analytics, and cloud trends all converging in chaotic ways and the number of service providers increasing at dizzying rates, IT will start to get over their self-image as operators and providers of all IT infrastructure, applications, devices, and services and will start to see themselves more as the strategic enabler of services

According to Computerworld, the hottest IT job right now is IT business analyst. Not long ago, only the CIO worried about aligning technology with business goals. In 2014, it will be the entire IT department.

4. Revenge of the CIO - CIOs will transition from CI-No's to business enablers
As IT departments become more strategic, the CIO's role will change drastically too. CIOs are tired of being "CI-No's." It's not a fun job. Fortunately, they no longer have to fill that role. As IT pros evolve into internal tech consultants who identify, evaluate, and oversee technologies (and not necessarily the ones who have to develop, deliver, or operate these technologies), CIOs will be tasked with figuring out how new technologies deliver competitive advantages.

CIOs will look at cloud, mobile, social media, and whatever other new technology comes along to discern how these cloud services will benefit the business, operationally and strategically. This means the background of CIOs will change as well. Organizations will value pure IT backgrounds less and less, instead prioritizing business and operational experience.

5. CIOs who aren't comfortable with SMAC will be challenged
By the end of 2014, CIOs who don't understand the strategic importance of social, mobile, analytics and cloud will be considered old school and less relevant to the organization. CIOs who "just say no" and fail to adapt will face criticism from everyone from board members who can't live without access to corporate data on their personal tablets to developers who demand access to services like AWS.

Moreover, in 2014 CMOs will continue to infringe on areas of responsibility that used to belong solely to the CIO. Those CIOs who continue to block cloud services that deliver business value will place their organizations at a competitive disadvantage, and once the rest of the C-suite wakes up to that fact, it will be the CMO, not the CIO, driving the future of technology within those slow-to-adapt organizations.

6. Unencrypted data will start to disappear
Ask any digital security professional for tips on how to better secure anything from the cloud to mobile end points to social media, and every single one will mention encryption at some point. In 2014, data will be encrypted everywhere - in motion, at rest, on corporate-owned smartphones, on employee-owned mobile device, etc.

As more applications and services reside in the cloud, the focus on how best to encrypt data will shift away from endpoints to cloud services and networks. The weak link in data encryption is the endpoint, but in 2014 that weak link will start to be eliminated, with important data never stored on end devices.

In 2014, enterprises will also demand encryption services that encrypt data no matter where it resides. Soon, there will be no such thing as unencrypted data.

7. Cloud adoption will force the enterprise to regain control of encryption keys
As unencrypted data disappears, so too will encryption keys that the enterprise does not own or control. New key escrow mechanisms will emerge allowing cloud service providers to have access to the customer data in the clear, but only for controlled, narrow windows of time. There will also be massive interest in encryption algorithms that allow enterprise ownership of encryption keys and do not break cloud service provider functionality.

8. VPNs and agents begin to disappear
Mobile devices access more enterprise services each and every day, and the way most enterprises protect data as it travels from applications to mobile devices is through a VPN. However, even simple to use VPN clients have their issues, such as reduced battery life and misconfigurations and connectivity issues.

As everything from tire pressure gauges to soil sensors to fitness monitors connects to the Internet, new ways to encrypt wireless data traffic will emerge. The agent-based approach will start to be phased out in 2014.

9. Data security re-emerges, this time to stay
Even as encryption becomes standard, it won't be enough. Encrypting data is indeed a best practice, but it's one tool in the tool chest. Just because your data is encrypted doesn't mean you know where it's been, where it's going, or whether or not it was accessed inappropriately. As a result, data access analytics and cloud-based data loss prevention (DLP) tools will start to become as common in the next few years as firewalls were in the past.

Data tracking tools will grow more powerful over time, meaning that even if you store data in a third-party cloud that you have no visibility into now, you'll need to start gaining visibility in 2014.

10. A virtual security perimeter begins to take shape
Traditional perimeter security is on life support. Traditional Firewalls, IPSes, and VPNs do a poor job of protecting against emerging cloud, mobile, and social threats. However, there is now a virtual cloud edge developing, one that enforces policies spanning authentication, identity management, access control, encryption, data movement, and more. This virtual cloud edge will enable organizations to securely stitch together their various clouds (private, public, hybrid), while even protecting traditional behind-the-firewall applications.

In 2014, the virtual security edge will begin to take shape in response to BYOD and cloud risks, but its benefits will be much further reaching.

11. The SMACS famous five (Social, Mobile, Analytics, Cloud, Security) will be the rage in 2014
Cloud is the main driver of social and mobile today. Cloud-delivered analytics will become more widely used. In 2014 cloud and analytics will form another alliance, namely, "Analytics for the Cloud." This will help the industry gain better, more actionable insights into cloud usage and behavior. The analogous alignment between Cloud and Security will emerge: cloud-delivered security will become more widely used and will be joined by security tools purpose-built for the cloud.

Meanwhile, those organizations blocking services will be at a major disadvantage in 2014, since their ability to compete will be seriously hindered.

More Stories By Rajiv Gupta

Rajiv Gupta is Founder and CEO of Skyhigh Networks. He has more than 20 years of successful enterprise software and security experience, and is widely recognized as a pioneer of Web Services and Client-Utility Computing, which was the precursor to cloud services as we know it today. With over 45 patents to his name, Rajiv has led two other companies to successful acquisitions by Cisco (Securent, Inc) and Oracle (Confluent Software). Previously, Rajiv spent 11 years at HP as GM of the E-speak Division – a division he started in 1998 to bring the Client-Utility Computing technology to market. Under his leadership, E-speak delivered some of the earliest Web Services technologies and standards and has been inducted into the Smithsonian National Archives. @TrustedMind