With the start of the year come loads of cloud predictions that taste of marshmallows, cotton candy and Skittles. Well, not this time. It’s time to take the good, take the bad, take the rest and there we have — ten no-hype cloud predictions for 2015.
Containers will not save the world
Yes, Docker and CoreOS have provided a more composable and holistic run-time environment — no one would dispute that fact. And yes, application containerization has the ability to drive the next generation of cloud applications. But when was the last time a great nascent technology unseated an adequate, mainstream one? Hypervisor technology is well-understood and safe and for most organizations — safety and technology inertia rule the day.
VMware continues to be a rudderless ship
VMware’s best days are behind it. Most of its initiatives and acquisitions that made headlines — VCE, Nicira, AirWatch and VCloud Ai — have failed to be game-changers. Now the company must face the attacks from more nimble and lower-cost commercial open-source solutions that are increasingly appealing to enterprises. VMWare needs an facelift pronto.
Amazon Web Services will see its competitive advantage shrink
Yes, the poster child for cloud will not enjoy the spotlight on its own; its hyper-scale competitors have closed the huge chasm of features, pricing and geographic availability. AWS is responding well to challenges, but primarily with admin and developer tools and features and not with better support and service-level agreements. AWS operates under the assumption that companies want à la carte functionality over intuitive solutions. AWS also has a major Achilles heel: private networking.
Colocation will see modest gains in cloud takeaway
Colocation will always be a useful and needed element in IT delivery, but to think it will erode the growth of cloud is severely overreaching. Cloud and colocation share a similar IT paradigm: self-service operations. Both models fail to provide a degree of managed services beyond tools and monitoring. Cloud does have the benefit of hyperbole, which drives high adoption, where colocation is equated to leasing real estate. I believe there is a tipping point in public cloud spending where colocation is a more cost-effective infrastructure option. However, those who procure cloud services typically do not have interest in dealing with critical kilowatts and cross connects.
Private cloud will see inflated gains
Most pundits are predicting this is the year for private cloud; I am not sold. I do believe that the rising tide of public cloud will help drive interest and deployments of on-premise and hosted virtualized pools of compute resources, but those can hardly be called cloud. The growth of private cloud deployments will be on the backs of cloud management platforms with OpenStack, which are really big toolboxes that require a handyman or architect to effectively build a solution. Most enterprises want IT to be easier to scale and run, not harder.
Limited consolidation of cloud providers
Many prognosticators are convinced that massive consolidation of cloud providers is on tap in 2015. The top six or seven cloud providers own nearly 75 percent of the market, so all others are doomed, right? They should either pretty up their businesses to be sold or just fold up their tents? I do agree the market for cloud services is becoming competitive, but demand for cloud services is still strong and supply for services is diffuse and fragmented. I have witnessed two trends that underscore the need for a variety of cloud providers: many mid-size to large companies buy cloud services either regionally or locally and there is no cloud provider that does it all. I do see IT organizations playing an aggregator role for their users, which is good news for all cloud providers.
DevOps-driven cloud procurement begins in earnest
DevOps, arguably the most interesting and disruptive trend fostered by cloud adoption, is reaching a tipping point. Infrastructure services have been the domain of IT for eons, and it has traditionally been a thorough and drawn-out procurement cycle. IT is now giving up the mantle of running these procurement projects and will continue to be influencers at best. The changing of the guard is tough for those in IT who depend on a rigid and comprehensive process like ITIL. But the best thing for IT is to not fight the wave. Get familiar with Github.
Net neutrality will matter
Do you remember when we all actually cared about FCC rulings? The upcoming rulings on network neutrality will have an interesting effect on access to websites, many of which deliver cloud application functionality (Salesforce.com, for instance). Consumers and Democrats don’t want pay-for-performance websites, while carriers and Republicans want to charge for faster access to sites. The FCC decision will fundamentally change how application developers design those applications if they require faster access and low latency.
For many, big data might as well be hieroglyphics
Big data is the classic enigma — both game-changing and poorly understood. Enterprises of all sizes have both structured and unstructured data, but few actually understand how to harvest it and how to use the output effectively. Many enterprises agree that Hadoop could be a huge benefit, but most will delay deployment because they don’t know to best leverage the results or how to properly use the dizzying array of available tools.
Cloud is not for everyone (just companies that want to lead)
Cloud is severely over-hyped and many are exhausted at the level of cloud washing in IT, but there is still a clear mandate to utilize cloud when it makes sense. For the majority of enterprises, the use cases for cloud are beginning to overtake the use cases against cloud.
2015 will NOT be a game changer year in cloud services and adoption; however, the comfort level of cloud will steadily increase in the mainstream organizations. Services, tools and consulting that enable users to integrate their existing workloads with cloud based workloads will do well. Slow and steady will win the day.
Ted Chamberlin is founder and principal of TLC3 Consulting. He was formerly a research VP at Gartner and worked at Citrix and Coresite.