Few technologies have been touted for their “disruptive” capabilities as much as the cloud. Over the years, analysts and experts have speculated about what will and what won’t go to the cloud, with a large majority suggesting that most applications are cloud-bound. However, in light of recent incidents such as the upheaval of EU-US Safe Harbor agreements, the future might not be quite pro cloud as it once was.

For each new system or application, organizations are always faced with a decision of whether to select a cloud-based solution or a traditional, on-premises one. If cloud, which type of cloud – private cloud, hybrid cloud, or public cloud? Organizations then face the additional scrutiny of their CISO’s security evaluation.  Additionally, consumer clouds have given end users a choice over IT–provided solutions, and IT must now step up to the plate to offer solutions that are as compelling and intuitive. While there is a tendency or tolerance to move more applications to the cloud, when you start moving applications that touch critical content, you’re playing with fire. Strong encryption, mobile security, secure containers and other security features have to be in place. If your enterprise content is important – and it should be – then a single tenant, private cloud solution should be the sole consideration.

In the next five years, IT staff will learn to effectively, securely and efficiently manage all of their systems together – a mix of legacy systems, new on-premises solutions and cloud solutions, with a focus on strong scalable integration points between these systems. They will be increasingly in tune with their business stakeholders, get better at capturing end user requirements and implement the right tool (or combination of tools) to support the line of business.

As more applications move to some form of cloud solution, IT managers will increasingly focus on supporting business–specific applications. With applications related to content, IT Managers will no longer be required to just collaborate but instead aggregate content from many different sources to provide a single pane of glass to all members working on a project.

A key requirement around such applications will increasingly be security. As the C-suite and board of directors increasingly put IT security high on their agenda, IT managers must become fluent and savvy around application security, regulatory compliance and information governance.

As a result, managers will be required to maintain AND monitor the IT infrastructure. In other words, manage and not just maintain. In addition, they will have to constantly answer, “what is most important to the business?” This question will continue to be a difficult one given the complex array of solutions, applications, employees and geographies.

Improving performance and gravitating towards apps that have a finer grain of access and role based control is something IT will always be worried about. Closely related is increasing productivity of the entire organization. IT can achieve all of these by managing the integration of cloud applications, with a more secure private infrastructure. This is where a platform of very strong APIs and SDKs will play a key role. This will be done via a number of hybrid solutions, which allow for access via private cloud applications, providing a secure channel to access less secure applications. 

The combination of new cloud and mobile technologies are ushering in a new era of enterprise applications. IT will increasingly be tasked with building and supporting custom enterprise applications that take advantage of new capabilities in mobile and cloud computing to drive new competitive advantages for their business. These new applications will enable new revenue generating business services, introduce new workflows that increase productivity and enrich customer experiences to drive better loyalty and retention.

As long as Shadow IT remains an issue, IT departments will have to build custom enterprise applications that are both secure and increase the productivity of workers and integrate with all of their other enterprise applications.

These in–house applications will be capable of accessing both a pure and private cloud infrastructure, allowing companies to store sensitive information such as healthcare records, or customer data, without sacrificing the ability to access non-crucial applications in the cloud.

At the end of the day, the anatomy of the IT department of tomorrow will be decided to a large extent by external factors, such as regional laws and international regulations. When Safe Harbor 2.0 arrives at the end of January the stage will truly be set, and the characteristics of that regulation will significantly impact the cloud place in the enterprise.

What do you think? Will your enterprise fully embrace the cloud despite security concerns, or will you remain (at least partially) grounded? Let us know what you think in the comments below.