Esri, Intergraph, and Excelis all indicated they were working on cloud-based solutions. There was a lot of discussion about "apps" and numerous comparisons to iTunes. There was also a lot of mention about getting information (not just data) to the decision maker. All this was great, but I think there are some fundamental differences in the way we extract information from imagery than from buying a song from iTunes. If I buy a song from iTunes it sounds the same as if I had bought the CD or listened to it on Pandora. There's no real advantage to me having a copy of the song on CD and on iTunes, it's the same song.
When it comes to extracting information from remotely sensed data I fire up 3-8 geospatial software packages on a given day to get my job done - ERDAS IMAGINE, ArcGIS, eCogntion, Quick Terrain Modeler, SOCET GXP, MARS, QGIS, GRASS, etc. It's a mix of proprietary and open source. I might be a bit of a software geek, but the real reason I do this is that the people I provide the information to (resource managers) are very discerning. Each one of these software packages helps me improve the quality of the final product. What concerned me with what I heard from Esri, Intergraph, and Exelis is that there was no mention of interoperability. Esri mentioned that they have a deal with DigitalGlobe and they are looking at building applications around WorldView-2 and other DigitalGlobe satellites. I use Esri products daily and I am a huge fan of WorldView-2, but I cannot think of a single dataset I can produce or a question I can answer that relies solely on these two products that wouldn't be better if I used multiple software packages and fused the imagery with other data sources. What I want is to be able to do is grab components from each of the software packages I use, combine data from multiple sources, and process it all in the cloud. If we limit the data sources and/or tools we will loose the ability to extract the most accurate and relevant information.
A silo in the cloud is the oposite of the interoperability we see happening on the desktop side (Integraph, Esri, and numerous open source programs support Python, allowing one call tools from multiple software packages in a single Python script). I believe that those companies that support interoperability in the cloud will see increased adoption of their technologies.