Prediction: 2012 Will Bring a Break In the Clouds
When the media and industry analysts are doing their job well, they’re admirably ahead of the times with predictions about wide-ranging changes in the industries they serve, allowing readers to gain insights and make plans they wouldn’t otherwise be able to.
That’s terrific, but there’s a down side. Sometimes, a new development, such as cloud computing, has such widespread advance buzz that, by the time it emerges, it is not as developed as the debate that surrounds it. The level of adoption of cloud services is still relatively low compared to the amount of discussion about it. In other words, a great deal more SMB and VAR owners have heard of cloud than have started using it.
Furthermore, until relatively recently, the degree of flexibility, sophistication and ease-of-adoption has been far more limited than you’d gather from the gee-whiz hype. So far, it’s been a bit like the introduction of the automobile – you could have any color, so long as it’s black.
Next year, 2012, promises to bring some genuinely significant changes in the way cloud computing services are offered and – more importantly – used. Here are some predictions for the next year regarding cloud technology and its practical applications for small businesses and the reseller market.
Open Source Code Will Become the Standard. Companies lock you into using one vendor, because their cloud capabilities utilize a proprietary set of APIs and protocols that prevent easy migration to other cloud. Open source code means hugely increased flexibility when it comes to picking and choosing cloud vendor technology (rather than having to start all over again). It’s pretty clear the open cloud movement will gain more momentum in the year ahead. Companies will recognize the need for more flexibility and interoperability in the cloud, and will embrace it.
The End of One-Size-Fits-All. Companies of all sizes will realize the benefits of “mixing and matching” cloud solutions, and look at implementing a combination of dedicated and cloud systems (what we call a hybrid cloud solution), also blending public and private cloud, on-premise and off-premise solutions.
Executives Will Ask for Help Implementing Cloud. Taking advantage of the enormous benefits cloud computing has to offer (including a typical 30% reduction in ongoing IT costs) doesn’t have to be a painful and complex learning experience. Increasingly, executives are realizing cloud adoption doesn’t have to be an exercise in DIY. Help is at hand. Managing cloud solutions can be complex and intensely time-consuming, especially for organizations with limited resources. A huge advantage for SMBs is that economies of scale in managed services means they get access to dazzling IT sophistication for very little money.
The Future Will Be Mobile. The iPhone and iPad are the first true cloud devices. Remember when you used to have to worry how much data storage your laptop computer had? Those days are over. Now people are beginning to accept a world in which you basically can’t do anything but play Angry Birds on these devices without the cloud. Mobile devices will grow in sophistication, scope and capability along with the cloud, and vice versa. And enterprises will need to embrace cloud technology to keep up with the demands put on them by the move to mobile.
Even the Behemoths of Enterprise Software Will Change. The “Dinosaurs” are dying, as big companies realize they need the cloud to survive. Large enterprise software companies will start to panic if they don’t have a good cloud story to tell. They’ve either got it under control and they’ll release cloud versions of their existing products or they’ll scramble and start to acquire cloud companies. We’re starting to see it with Oracle’s recent purchase of RightNow Technologies and SAP’s acquisition of SuccessFactors. I think more acquisitions like this are likely to follow.
It’s going to be an exciting new world of cloud computing in 2012. Are you ready to take advantage of it?
John Engates is chief technology officer of Rackspace Hosting. Click here to learn more about Rackspace Partner Program. Monthly guest blogs such as this one are part of Talkin’ Cloud’s annual platinum sponsorship.