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What we’ll see in 2013 in cloud computing

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The cloud has moved from concept to reality. Sure, startups have been buying computing and storage on demand for years, while enterprises talked up virtualization and hoped it was the same thing. But now big companies are finally getting this whole on-demand compute thing, and the next year we’ll see big IT companies buy up startups that will help transition enterprise workloads to the cloud, more companies that offer enterprise-class infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) get real applications and a more viable model of hybrid cloud that enables cloud bursting. Let’s see what’s ahead.

1: Proving the public cloud can handle enterprise apps

awslogojpegAnecdotally speaking, most Fortune 1000 companies have at least some test and development running in Amazon’s(s amzn) public cloud. And a subset of those companies run actual applications there; heck, even NASDAQ is an AWS customer. Yet, when it comes to truly mission-critical applications in the heavily regulated finance and healthcare sectors, many companies will not put any data or applications in a public cloud. Companies like Diebold and the big banks won’t even allow staff to use AWS for development, let alone deployment.

That’s a huge hurdle for Amazon(s amzn) (and Microsoft(s msft) Azure). AWS cut a deal with Eucalyptus last year to make it easier for companies to run Eucalyptus private clouds that interoperate with AWS on certain jobs in a hybrid model. Startups like CloudVelocity claim they can “clone” on-premise workloads onto AWS without modification and provide complete security. That’s a big promise — and one that needs to be vetted. But look for many more such announcements next year. Any company that can successfully make the public cloud a safe and secure repository for even regulated applications will be able to print money.

Meanwhile, enterprise software giants VMware(s vmw) and Microsoft likewise have to prove that their cloud technologies are up to snuff for their legacy customers as well as new prospects.

2: Make-or-break for HP

HP logoFor the past few years, all the legacy hardware powers — Dell(s dell), EMC,(s emc) Hewlett-Packard(s hpq) and IBM(s ibm)– scrambled to prove their relevance in a new world where cloud computing makes hardware branding irrelevant.

But HP is in the hottest seat this coming year, with CEO Meg Whitman pleading with investors to wait out a “multiyear turnaround.” It’s by no means clear that they will. HP is in the cross hairs after years of management turmoil and questionable acquisitions — most recently of Autonomy. That $11.1 billion purchase was meant to build HP’s credibility both in big data and in cloud computing. It’s safe to say it has not done so.

Now that HP has launched its OpenStack-based compute cloud,we’ll see if HP’ s enterprise customer base — which is still huge — has enough confidence to move into an HP-branded cloud. Otherwise it will move elsewhere.

3: It’s time for OpenStack to stand (or not) on its own

full openstack cloud software logoNow that Rackspace has stepped back from its paternal role as OpenStack backer and turned governance over to a multivendor body, it’s time to see if OpenStack has what it takes to compete with Amazon Web Services on the public cloud side as well as with other open-source options CloudStack, Eucalyptus, and OpenNebula.

2012 was a big year for OpenStack with HP, Internap, Red Hat, and Rackspace itself all standing up OpenStack-based clouds. Nebula is getting close to general availability on its OpenStack appliance. And there are other options coming soon including Cloudscaling’s Amazon and Google API-compliant private cloud. Watch for more services companies to build services around OpenStack as well. Mirantis just launched its own BYO OpenStack service, for example.

While many have said that OpenStack is late to the party, it’s important to remember that despite all the hype and all the cloud washing of last year, we’re still very much in early days of cloud computing. Anything can happen. Some new company and perhaps even a legacy player could rise up and give even Amazon a run for its money.

4: Infrastructure now extends beyond the four walls of the data center

Google Iowa data centerBack in 2008 Google pushed the idea that the data center was the computer, but with the launch of its Spanner database that syncs content across five data centers, we’re clearly moving into a new realm of infrastructure designed to support our favorite web services. Now the data center isn’t the computers, the data centers plus the network connecting them are.

It’s not just Google thinking this way. Netflix(s nflx), a heavy user of Amazon’s cloud and one of the biggest broadband traffic drivers, has extended its network as close to the edge as carriers will let it by building out a content delivery network (CDN).  Facebook has a similar effort in the works, and it is also making deals with carriers to lease fiber so it can extend its infrastructure closer to the edge. We’re going to see more deals where data center operators will have to become more comfortable stretching their infrastructure outside the data center discovering how to keep things in sync over massively distributed networks.

5: Software defined everything doesn’t get easier

servers networkSoftware-defined networking was the big buzz word of 2012 but we also saw the emergence of software-defined storage and the software defined data center. Basically the idea here is to bring the same flexibility to networking, storage and the data center that virtualization brought to computing. You can’t free your applications from the server without bringing along the networking and storage for them too.

But like any new field that could disrupt established vendors, there’s a lot of marketers throwing shade, especially around software defined networking. While we expect to see a lot of production deployments showing of network virtualization, we don’t think we’ll see much headway when it comes to commoditizing the router or effectively linking the applications to the networking gear in an open and standardized way.

18 Responses to “What we’ll see in 2013 in cloud computing”

  1. Mike Charles

    As Navin said, there’s a lot to learn about the cloud still, and we will still see a lot of development on this regard in the future; companies are still hesitant on moving all their data to the cloud, but as Sudarshan said the movement to the cloud will continue to grow exponentially. First, people need to understand how it really works, the pros and cons, etc. I found simple articles on this topic in thanks for sharing these predictions

  2. Peter Fretty

    Although public cloud may be maturing, businesses still need to assess whether or not the move makes sense for their needs. There are various approaches and HP & VMWare offer a free assessment designed to help SMBs. I would suspect by the end of 2013 most progressive organizations will embrace on hybrid cloud configurations so they can make the most of cost benefits as well as security and uptime needed. Successful cloud deployments need to start with solid strategies and should be viewed as an ever evolving journey.

  3. Brad Nisbet

    I think point #1 is spot on. We are finding a growing number of enterprise organizations who are eager to learn more about what apps/workloads might be suitable to run in the cloud – many of whom are interested in Amazon – but they have reservations. The reservations might be perceived or real, but they generally revolve around performance, data protection, compliance, and loss of data mobility or control. NetApp and Amazon have partnered to offer a solution that combines the best of compute-on-demand with proven enterprise storage and data management.

  4. “Anecdotally speaking, most Fortune 1000 companies have at least some test and development running in Amazon’s public cloud. And a subset of those companies run actual applications there”.

    Agreed. But there is a long way to go. 2 points regarding this:
    1. Most of the enterprise test/dev activity that is happening in the cloud so far, is around new apps (usually smaller, less critical etc.). A vast majority, is still on prem, on developer workstations etc.
    2. Even if they are developing/testing in the cloud, its not being done as effectively as it could be (because the infrastructure doesn’t exist today).

    Ideally, enterprises would be able to move applications to the cloud, use the unlimited power of the cloud to develop/test their application, and then bring them back (or deploy in the cloud)

    However, its not easy to take enterprise apps to the cloud (VM types, static IPs, multi-cast, other networking issues etc.). I posted something on this topic here.

    Even if you end up getting your app to the cloud, its hard to duplicate, snapshot the whole application for proper dev/test.

    In an ideal world,
    – each developer could get their own multi-VM app instance on demand (running in the cloud),
    – every time someone checks in any code, you run a complete suite of tests in parallel on different instances of your app (running in the cloud) – continuous integration
    – snapshot, version, archive your entire infrastructure and app stack – and manage it all with code

    My sense is that a proper dev/test solution that leverages the cloud needs to encompass all of that. And in a sense, it would be a fantastic initial use-case for the “hybrid” cloud

  5. Sarbjeet Johal

    I agree with these points and I think, in 2013 we will observe that most progress made will be on Cloud Brokerage front, brokers will focus on Demand Aggregation & Value Added Services. This is inevitable.

    • Joe Tierney

      No kidding. HP is about as far from the cloud as any of the legacy vendors. This is also completely IaaS-centric.

      SaaS will continue to dominate in 2013. Consumerization has set its sights on enterprise apps.

  6. I think the biggest thing for cloud in 2013 will be the emergence of OpenStack. Despite having a whose who of IT juggernauts backing it, the mainstream media is still pretty oblivious about it. Gigaom is one of the very few media sites I have found that has been staying on top of the developments in cloud.

    Basically the way I see it, at least for US IT companies, we basically have three contenders in this fight: Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and then everyone else is backing OpenStack. The fact that even EMC/Vmware is now backing OpenStack is huge.

    I have followed Linux for many years and I think it has worked remarkably well. So, I am confident that the same type of community/open source development can be applied successfully with OpenStack. The mind share and enthusiasm behind OpenStack, IMHO is only rivaled by that of Linux. I don’t recall any other open source project with this much firepower behind it.

  7. I believe, enterprise companies are going to take cloud computing more seriously. Openstack is surely leading the way for a foundation to building clouds and cloud will become the CPU that runs the global network. IT admins skill set has been made. Learn the cloud.

  8. Kenny Mu Li

    OpenStack is definitely gaining traction, but not just with public cloud offerings. Apart from the community of developers involved, OpenStack also seems to be slowly becoming the popular choice for private cloud.