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Despite questions about the global economy and volatility in the markets, 2011 proved that there's no place quite like the technology industry, where innovative new services and products continued to win adoption by both consumers and businesses.
With 2012 just around the corner, it's time to ask: what's around the corner?
Amazon is not just the kingpin of online retail. Increasingly, thanks to Amazon Web Services (AWS), the Seattle-based company is at the center of many companies' clouds.
The rise of AWS is impressive, and Amazon owes much of its success to the breadth and depth of its cloud platform, which is used by hundreds of thousands of customers, large and small.
Facebook's revenue growth over the past several years is almost as impressive as its user growth. And with money pouring in, thanks in large part to advertisers eager to reach consumers on the world's largest social network, its profits are growing. How much?
According to Michael Arrington, Facebook generated nearly $800m in operating income in the first six months of this year.
By comparison, Arrington's sources said the company produced $1bn in operating income in all of last year.
Dropbox, the company that has made "your files, anywhere" a reality for some 45m users, confirmed yesterday that it has raised a whopping $250m Series B at a rumored valuation of $4bn.
Also revealed yesterday: the fact that in 2009, then-Apple CEO Steve Jobs invited Dropbox's two twenty-something co-founders to a meeting in which he offered to acquire their company for a nine-figure amount.
Oracle CEO Larry Ellison hasn't exactly been the biggest proponent of 'the cloud'. In fact, in 2008 he went so far as to state that the cloud is "the Webvan of computing".
To be sure, the cloud isn't without its problems, and as a buzzword, it's a bit worn.
But the rise of services like Amazon AWS has proven one thing: the cloud, for better or worse, is here to stay.
In late 2009, Amazon introduced a new way for AWS customers to purchase its Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) service: spot instances.
Instead of buying an instance outright at a fixed price, the price of a spot instance is determined by supply and demand.
So long as your bid for the instance is above the current spot price, you have a fully functional Amazon EC2 instance at your disposal.
With cloud solutions becoming more and more popular with businesses, selecting the right providers is becoming more and more important.
Thanks to its skyrocketing popularity, established technology companies and upstarts alike have rushed to create cloud offerings. The competition this produces is a boon for companies shopping for cloud offerings, but it also creates challenges when looking for a provider that can be trusted.
When resources are scarce, you grab them and hold onto them. This has been true throughout history, and it's currently how most organisations manage servers. It’s probably why most data centres are built like fortresses. An expensive strategy but, conceptually, a pretty simple one.
The Cloud changes all this. By pooling and sharing resources, the Cloud makes it possible for us to treat servers as if they are abundant. This in turn means we must change our management style.
Microsoft isn't exactly the most-loved company in the world, and part of that arguably has to do with its dominant position in the OS market. Its flagship product, Windows, has improved recently, but frustrations caused by its checkered past are, for some, hard to forget.
For years, many computer industry professionals have hoped that strong Windows alternatives would emerge. Much of this hope was based on the idea that highly-polished GUIs for Linux-based operating systems could offer consumers Windows-like experiences and give Microsoft a run for its money.
If one trend has captured the hearts and minds of internet executives, entrepreneurs and developers alike over the past several years, it's cloud computing. And when it comes to market leaders, at the front of the pack is Amazon.
Its suite of offerings, known as Amazon Web Services (AWS), has attracted some of the most prominent consumer internet services, including Twitter, as well as a slew of up-and-coming startups looking for the ability to scale in their early days without Facebook-like funding. Through its cloud, companies can do everything from run resource-intensive applications to send high volumes of email.
Marc Benioff probably doesn't mind a few clouds. Salesforce.com's CEO believes that cloud computing is a big part of the future, and has called the book he wrote about Salesforce.com's rise Behind the Cloud.
But Benioff isn't just talking about and promoting the cloud. He's putting his money where his mouth is, and Salesforce.com is increasingly looking to play a larger role in the cloud computing market. Yesterday, the company made one of its biggest announcements yet: Database.com.
Google's desire to put a dent in one of Microsoft's biggest cash cows, Microsoft Office, is no secret. Since introducing a paid version of Google Apps designed for enterprise consumption in 2007, Google has aggressively promoted its cloud-based solution as an alternative to Microsoft Office.
Last year, it even did something that wasn't very Google-like: it purchased billboard space in New York, San Francisco, Chicago and Boston urging businesses to "Go Google".