Over the last few years, we’ve watched the cloud evolve from an imaginative idea, to a unknown reality, to an ongoing presence in everyday IT management and business solutions. The cloud has grown up right before our eyes.

But the growth isn’t stopping here. The cloud experts over at Forrester decided to take a closer look at the cloud’s projected growth over the next few years, and their vision is really quite remarkable. It’s also a vision that MSPs like yourself should keep in mind as you grow your business and offerings, so let’s take a look at a few predictions in particular:

SaaS becomes de facto for buying new applications. SaaS has overtaken on-premise in categories such as HCM, CRM, and collaboration. Solutions once available in multiple deployment modes are now SaaS only (i.e., Oracle RightNow and SAP Ariba seldom offer on-premise any longer). The hold-outs: large enterprise suites are still not available in a true SaaS mode but are increasingly shifting to at least an ASP model.

Public Cloud will be the default backbone for IoT- Whether consumer-led with FitBit, Nike FuelBand and Samsung Gear, or enterprise-led with sensors, medical devices and transportation, the Internet of Things (IoT) will generate billions of data points in 2014 and aggregating this data and acting on its findings will best be achieved by capturing, analyzing and responding from the cloud. If you want to analyze billions of inputs in real- or near real-time, you won’t want to drag the data all the way back to your data center. A longstanding mantra in BI has been that it’s easier to move the compute to the data, than the data to the compute. With cloud-based Hadoop and SaaS-based BI solutions proliferating, it’s becoming hard to justify bringing this data down to analyze it.

Cloud-to-cloud continuity will get serious with SaaS. Disaster recovery (DR) is a leading driver for public cloud use, but mostly by enterprises looking to improve the resiliency of mid- to low-end apps and for smaller companies putting their entire recovery strategy in the cloud. But in 2014, cloud-based DR will go cloud-to-cloud.  The first phase will unfurl in the next year with cloud-to-cloud backups for mainstream SaaS offerings. In the SaaS market, enterprises struggle to restore data with steep recovery fees (or in some cases, total lack of service) by their SaaS vendors. A new market of backup solutions is rising to meet this need with early solutions from Backupify and Spanning.  These offerings automate the protection of critical data that is stored with SaaS providers so organizations can recover this data if it is accidentally, or maliciously, deleted.

Cloud security will be much more centralized and automated.  If you're resisting the cloud because of security concerns, you're running out of excuses. The leading public cloud providers have made strong gains in security and compliance, and there are few workloads completely off-limits for public cloud anymore. At the same time, securing private clouds has become safer, more reliable and easier to control through advanced management tools like HyTrust. We’ll see cloud security vendors like CloudPassage, JumpCloud and Illumio - letting you articulate cloud security requirements in executable automation of business policies. Enterprises will achieve better security this way than on their own.

Those individuals and companies with existing concerns about cloud based computing will soon find that their questions have been answered. The Cloud continues to provide solutions and not only effective, but ultimately essential business practices. Right now it may be the early adopters taking a risk on cloud-based computing, but very quickly that will shift, and those that haven’t made the change will find themselves lagging behind. The Cloud is here to stay. Hopefully, you are as well.

What do you think about these cloud predictions? Be sure to let us know in the comments section.