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View From the Top: Executives See Profits in Cloud Tech

Aneel Bhusri is still taking the long view. As co-CEO of a cloud computing start-up with 207 business customers and millions of dollars in annual revenue, he's been getting lots of eager attention in recent days from IPO-hungry investment bankers.

Still, he's sticking to the plan: His company, Workday, won't go public until the second half of next year.

That's not stopping the rest of the tech and business world from buzzing about the potential of a new generation of cloud companies. At the All About the Cloud conference in San Francisco recently, the conversation about the cloud had shifted from "if" to "when."

Cloud Computing - A CNBC Special Report
Cloud Computing - A CNBC Special Report

Despite lingering concerns about issues like security, there's now consensus that cloud computing will become the main model for delivering tech services.

In a report from the Software & Information Industry Association titled "Vision from the Top," 45 industry executives echoed that sentiment.

There is a slight air of self-promotion here—many of the software executives quoted in the report have already invested heavily in preparing cloud technologies for sale, and it might be more credible to ask the biggest software buyers to forecast the future.

But there are a couple of important threads:

One: many software companies say they're investing in cloud software instead of the old client-server model for future development.

Two: customers like the fact that the cloud model allows them to spend less over time on maintenance, and more on building their core businesses.

Even the more traditional software titans are heading to the cloud.

IBM plans to pull in $7 billion in cloud-related revenue in 2015, spanning software, hardware and services. (IBM software chief Steve Mills tells CNBC he believes IBM can maintain margins in the process.) And Apple has taken the unusual step of pre-announcing iCloud, a service that's expected to offer a streaming music library.