Analysts, media and vendors have all been busy, offering their predictions about this year’s technology winners and losers.

In making predictions however, it’s also important to acknowledge what has taken place in the past year, so I’m taking stock of the status of various trends, adoption rates and ‘intent’ surrounding the cloud debate in 2011. Whether we’re talking private, public or even hybrid cloud routes, discussion has never been livelier in the world of cloud.

Gartner, for example, predicted that by 2015, 20 per cent of non-IT Fortune 500 companies will be cloud services providers. In addition, at a summit earlier this year it urged IT departments to consider shifting from traditional computing into virtualisation in order to build a private cloud that, whether operated by their IT department or with help from a private cloud provider, would give them that competitive edge.

Attitudes and drivers have progressed over the past few years and highlight that Gartner’s predictions may already be well on the way to becoming a reality. Private cloud solutions are increasingly being used to positively impact both the business bottom line, through hardware utilisation, and the organisational top line in the creation of elastic infrastructure or shared services.

With this, understanding and acceptance of the technology by executives has significantly improved. The number of companies intending to deploy a private cloud has risen to a third from a steady twenty-eight percent in previous years and with this organisational culture has steadily reduced in importance as a barrier for uptake.

Having been the biggest inhibiting factor to adoption in 2009 (thirty-seven percent), it has reduced as a barrier to adoption by ten percent year-over-year to only seventeen percent in 2011 suggesting that companies are now more open to this type of investment.

Recent research findings complement a recent IDC report which anticipates that the server cloud market is set to enjoy frenetic growth until 2015, with server unit shipments for private cloud units expected to see a compound annual growth rate of twenty two percent to reach 570,000 by 2015.

Following the changing trends we’ve seen over the last few years, this is no surprise. Serious consideration is now being given to the upfront cost of implementing a private cloud solution as executives increasingly look at the practical implications of cloud adoption. Respondents who see upfront cost as the greatest barrier to private cloud has tripled from six to twenty-one percent in the last twelve months.

With a steady understanding of private cloud now established in European and North American business and a growing number of organisations beginning to recognise that the technology is the next natural infrastructural step, it’s surely just logical that organisational culture has adapted accordingly. Now the key concerns and drivers for uptake focus on logistical and practical considerations.

But, as cost continues to grow in influence (both as a driver and a barrier for uptake), we expect that hybrid use-cases like ‘cloud bursting’ to a cloud service provider will be more seriously considered as business solutions.

The challenge here will be making sure that concerns, like security, which are specifically linked to public cloud offerings, are effectively addressed to meet legislative and regulatory considerations. After all, these will only continue to grow as the headlines continue to be dominated by news of security breaches, big brother activity and cybercrime.