By Claire West

As we are slowly approaching the end of the year, the shakeout in the public sector over the coming weeks and months poses the question, ‘What can we expect in the year to come?’ As job losses in the public sector start to take effect, companies will be under pressure to reduce costs and will be forced into outsourcing their IT. Many experts are predicting that 2011 will be the year of the Cloud and independent analysts at Gartner predict that Britain is on the cusp of a widespread adoption of the Cloud. Increased economical pressure on business owners to cut costs means that Cloud computing is expected to become mainstream in around 2-5 years time.

The main benefit of the private cloud is that it provides all the advantages of owning an in-house server without the hassle or expense of maintaining one; allowing companies to change their IT payment model from capital expenditure (CAPEX) to operational expenditure (OPEX). The mass adoption of Cloud computing by small and medium-sized businesses is being driven by the flexibility that it offers, according to Gartner. The private Cloud fits in seamlessly with the core operations of a business and offers companies the flexibility of having a hybrid solution.

Cloud gives businesses the choice of what applications best suit their company - a one size fits all solution is no longer the case and flexibility is key. Businesses can choose between IT and communications solutions that are Cloud-based, ‘on-premise’ deployments or a hybrid of the two. According to Gartner the choice is being increasingly made to favour moving into the Cloud, and it states that by 2012, 20% of businesses will have off-site IT delivered via the cloud.

Piers Linney, joint CEO of Cloud specialist Outsourcery, said, “Technology is advancing at a phenomenal rate. Many companies have realised that in actual fact, the Cloud has been empowering IT personnel by allowing them to concentrate on the core operations of their businesses and freeing them from administrative tasks such as updating and maintaining systems which, whilst key to the day to day running of their business, don’t bring any direct benefit to its development and growth. For companies to ignore these advancements would be catastrophic to the running of their business.”