Looking Back, Going Forward: 2011 Predictions

What are your predictions for Cloud in 2011?

Fortune Teller

After looking back to 2010 what will 2011 see? Here's my take:

  1. Cloud First purchasing policy pervades I see a mind shift when people are looking at procuring technolog y- they're going to look "Cloud First" before considering other solutions, even if they've got existing investments on-premise.  We've seen some of the most cautious organisations - even the US Government - doing this.
  2. On-Premise needs Integration / On-Ramps As organisations go "Cloud First", they'll need to integrate Cloud into their existing IT with Cloud Integration or "On-ramp" technologies. These are technologies that enable companies to use the Cloud in conjunction with their existing systems. Despite being considered decidedly 'un-sexy' by the clouderati, the majority of organisations will enable their Cloud journeys with On-ramp technologies. Mimecast is a great example of an On-ramp technology, leveraging the best of the Cloud with on-prem systems. The word I'm really trying to avoid using here is hybrid, which has negative connotations for me - but yes On-ramp could mean hybrid.  But that's another conversation entirely.
  3. Continued Consumerisation of Enterprise Software Cloud is putting IT departments under enormous pressure.  As a result of the confluence of Social, Mobile and Cloud, staff are getting used to having excellent tools at home and want to use them in their workplace - so called Sunday night / Monday Morning expectations. IT departments need to satisfy these expectations using corporate IT, or risk the scenario of users making their own credit card purchases, creating compliance nightmares (Cloud Piracy- remember wireless?). “Simple, easy-to-build, easy-to-learn, easy-to-use consumer-style apps will increasingly be used to power enterprises,” said Jeff Clavier.  And the proliferation of Tablets beyond iPad - Android, BlackBerry and Windows - will accelerate it. That means change, which is scary- but surely much less scary than if users do it themselves.
  4. IT's shift towards Business Transformation acceleratesTo make that happen, IT folk need to realise their future role is in the use of technology to enable Business Transformation, rather than being technologists for the sake of it. James Staten from Forrester articulated it best:"And The Empowered Shall Lead Us. In Forrester’s new book Empowered, we profile a new type of IT leader, and they don’t work for you. They work for the business, not I&O, and are leveraging technologies at the edge of the business to change relationships, improve customer support, design new products, and deliver value in ways you could not have foreseen. And, despite your “better judgment” you need to help them do this. Your frontline employees are the ones who see the change in the market first and are best positioned to guide the business on how to adjust. They can turn — and are turning — to cloud services to make this change happen but don’t always know how to leverage it best. This is where you must engage." And that's why IT doesn't have to fear for it's job in the Cloud. It'll just be different and we need to embrace the change.
  5. Lock-in fears subside Vendors need to continue to tackle the perceived lock-in generated by the Cloud. The reality is that the lock-in isn't nearly as bad as people think. People have been using proprietary standards for years.  The only difference now is that it's in someone else's datacentre and they can't prod it. Portability of PaaS will remain critical, and although this has seen significant improvements, there may be more to come.
  6. The Rise of the Plaforms We've long been saying that PaaS is the future of apps. But PaaS requires re-development, and that takes time to do, as well as confidence in the future of PaaS platforms (as lock-in is currently a problem). The more lock-in fears subside, the greater uptake of PaaS we'll see. Why would you want to run your own stack if you don't have to?
  7. Standards come to the party In certain areas - especially Compliance - 2011 will be the year for standards. When people voice objections to Cloud, the number one objection is always Security. Security is a function of Compliance. It is imperative if Public Cloud is to attract "serious" buyers such as Governments and major corporates that standards in critical areas develop so that buyers can have certainty over what they're procuring. Christopher Hoff summed it up:"Security is not the biggest barrier to companies moving to applications, information and services delivered using cloud computing. What is? Compliance. ... That means what one gives up in terms of direct operational control, one must gain back in terms of visibility and transparency" That's the only way you can measure the security or compliance of a Cloud solution. This has been massively challenging for Cloud providers to date, because of the lack of standards and unwillingness to divulge too much IP.
  8. Rise of Cloud Exchanges or Brokerages As we see growth in providers of IaaS we'll see more brokerages or exchanges, where people trade computing capacity according to trading principles of supply and demand. This will enable compute capacity to be utilised more efficiently, thereby driving down the cost of Cloud compute resources. Incumbent vendors don't really want this to happen because they don't want to be competing on price, but this will force them to innovate at an increasing rate to differentiate against the commodity providers. Upstarts in the Cloud sector like Telcos and Hosters will be keen to dip their toe in this market, since they have both customers and infrastructure at their disposal.
  9. Customers will get wise to "Cloudwashing" In 2010, a lot of vendors jumped on the Cloud bandwagon with the same products as before, masquerading as 'Cloud'.  I heard a great story about vendors jumping on the bandwagon: "At the start of the millennium, EMC launched the concept of Information Lifecycle Management (ILM) to embrace the idea of caring for data management from cradle to grave across multiple media and tiers. Within weeks, a rush of vendors issued press releases about their latest ILM offerings. In many cases, these were the exact same products as before but with a rebranding to capitalize on the fad of the moment." That's certainly happened again with Cloud. I predict that 2011 will be the year when Customers "get" Cloud and therefore get what's not. This will be strongly helped by those vendors previously guilty of Cloudwashing who have used the intervening period to build or buy "true" Cloud technology.