The 'cloud' has struggled through a turbulent year: its name was slandered when Nirvanix closed its doors and Snowden's escape to Russia did little to ease concerns over information security. The next 12 months will bring with it a shift in customer demands as security in the cloud becomes a top priority.

First and foremost, customers will increasingly change how they choose what to store and where to store it. Security, flexibility and trust will become ever more important, giving rise to a new market of tools and services that protect information.

Additionally, smaller service providers will emphasise their proximity and personal service to woo customers and differentiate themselves from larger, more dominant cloud service providers.

I'm looking forward to seeing a number of innovations in 2014 that will have a positive impact on the cloud storage world for years to come. Below, I've compiled my top three predictions in the cloud storage market for the rest of 2014:

Rising emphasis on security

After living through a year of PRISM and other Snowden-like disclosures, consumers and businesses will be much more aware of what data and information they are willing to upload to off-premise, potentially non-secure servers.

Keeping that in mind, many companies will take steps to increase their security measures and better protect sensitive information. Despite Dropbox's high prospects and valuation, we'll start seeing more companies blocking access to services like Dropbox and shift from public clouds toward private, more secure clouds hosted on their premises, allowing data to remain under their own control.

New tools and services to protect data in the cloud

As more and more people choose to store their business-critical workload in the cloud, issues of business continuity will become front and centre. With larger volumes of data being stored, the likelihood of a significant disaster or failure increases.

Due to increased risks, we will see a demand in the market for new, innovative solutions to combat downtime and data loss in the cloud. Companies will utilise different ways to back up cloud-based data, and migrate machines to other clouds quickly and seamlessly.

Increased focus on physical location of cloud servers

Customers will now opt to use cloud providers who store data in a geographically proximate location-most importantly within their own country. I believe this will be far more evident in Europe than other regions, but present throughout the globe.

This 'data nationalism' will provide perceived protection from foreign governments. At the same time, it will give smaller, local cloud service providers an edge over giants like Amazon.

These smaller providers will be able to devote significant time and energy to offering personalized, local services that better fit to an individual customer's needs. Get ready for the rise of smaller cloud providers in 2014.

  • Sergey Kandaurov is the Director of Product Management at Acronis. Sergey leads strategic management and Acronis' portfolio of backup and disaster recovery tools and solutions.