Cloud services are no longer a “nice-to-have” component of corporate IT but a strategic imperative, according to a new report from research firm Ovum.

Organizations that want to make their first cloud services investments will look to build business cases that encompass longer-term IT and business value, says the report, “2014 Trends to Watch: Cloud Services.” The study says vendors will need to work with customers grappling with issues related to proper management and support of hybrid cloud environments, as well as the continuing effort to leverage the connections between cloud, mobility and data/analytics.

“The rate of cloud adoption is quickly accelerating; cloud breaks through in virtually every customer conversation,” John Madden, IT Services practice leader and author of the report, said in a statement. “This accelerated activity applies not only to private or virtual private cloud models, which remain the dominant method of deployment, but increasingly public and hybrid cloud management models as well.”

Ovum identifies four key trends that will impact cloud services in 2014: Cloud services adoption in 2014 will still be cost-driven, but business value and transformation will take higher priority; how vendors support cloud services deployments is emerging as an important decision-making factor for customers; companies lagging behind on well-defined strategies for cloud management, governance and compliance procedures need to make investments or face failure in meeting business expectations; and hybrid cloud management and service integration will emerge as major differentiators for IT services and outsourcing providers.

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