No. 10 tech story of 2011: The cloud rises

It was a year of growth and consolidation in the cloud industry, security concerns be damned

This is the second post for "My personal, hand-selected top 11 tech stories of 2011." You can read the first post, Netflix's Public Suicide Art Project, here.

If following the money is a good way to gauge a technology's prospects, 2011 was a big year for cloud computing.

Between major acquisitions, funding deals and announcements, cloud computing moved closer to the mainstream, even as security concerns lingered.

Among the highlights:

Google unveils a cloud-based music service called Google Music

Amazon releases its Amazon Cloud Drive and Cloud Player

Apple launches iCloud

SAP acquires cloud-based HR apps vendor SuccessFactors for $3.4 billion

Oracle buys cloud-based CRM apps vendor RightNow for $1.5 billion

Rackspace buys cloud server management start-up Cloudkick

Relatively low-profile cloud-based platform provider Jive Software goes public, raising $161 million and outperforming higher-profile IPOs from Groupon and Zynga.

Platform-as-a-Service vendor Apprenda scores a $10 million venture round

Cloud-based Java app vendor CloudBees gets $10.5 million in funding

Intel invests $30 million in cloud research

Bottom line: We're talking big players with a lot of skin in the cloud game. No surprise, because the stakes are high: According to Forrester Research, the cloud computing market will grow to $241 billion in 2020 from $40.7 billion in 2010.

Look for more of the same in 2012: More cloud acquisitions and consolidation, more cloud funding -- and more concerns about cloud security, which my ITworld colleague Kevin Fogarty discussed on numerous occasions this year.

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