The Cloudy Horizon for 2013: 10 Predictions

What's ahead in cloud computing for 2013? Here's our roundup of 10 the cloud predictions we think will be worth watching in 2013.

What's ahead in cloud computing for 2013? It's a big topic, and many industry executives and pundits have offered their predictions about how cloud will evolve in the year ahead. Here's our roundup of 10 the cloud predictions we think will be worth watching in 2013.

1. Cloud Will Blur Boundaries of Facilities and Operations

Many data center services providers have entered the cloud arena. Cloud is a complimentary offering to colocation. There will remain straight colo plays, but those with a heavily regional focus will add cloud to the portfolio, if they haven’t already. A lot of companies are recognizing that cloud is an integral piece in a larger strategy, so they’ll seek service providers that can provide cloud in addition to colo space or dedicated hosting.

2. It’s All About Hybrid Cloud and Multiple Clouds

There were a lot more “mixed” deals in 2012. In 2013, Customers will get smarter about what should reside in the cloud and what shouldn’t, as well as use cloud more effectively for things like bursting during known periods of traffic spikes. They’ll also leverage multiple clouds more affectively. Cloud management specialist Rightscale said that 87% of its compute under management is multi-cloud usage, one data point suggesting an increasing percentage of users using multiple clouds.

Cary Landis, NJVC senior architect, Cloudcuity AppDeployer and Virtual Global CEO sees a convergence occurring this year. “The lines between platform as a service (PaaS) and cloud services brokerages will blur into a conceptual operating system for the ‘Web as a platform’—providing tools to allow users to take advantage of multiple cloud solutions at once, and bringing the cloud closer to the end user in more meaningful ways," said Landis.

3. Cloud Brokerages

Increased use of multiple clouds requires improved ways to manage and access this multi-cloudinfrastructure. Quite a few predictions see the importance of cloud brokerages heightening in 2013. "Though still nascent, next year I expect to see some (cloud) service brokers emerge," said George Watt, VP of Corporate Strategy at CA Technologies, in a blog post. "While it won't become the dominant model in 2013, I do expect that organizations will - consciously or subconsciously - begin preparing for that it."

Kevin Jackson, NJVC vice president and general manager, cloud services, agrees. “The new role of cloud services brokerages will be further defined and evolve over the next five years to provide niche services to organizations moving to the cloud, but also realizing that their specific IT needs will require the use of more than one cloud services provider,” said Jackson.

4. Cloud Will Support Big Data

Two of the major trends intersect. There will be an “increased focus on big data and solution-oriented delivery,” said Duke Skarda, CTO of Softlayer.

John Engates, CTO of Rackspace believes "this is the year when Big Data makes its way into enterprise conversations. Gartner predicts that Big Data will drive $232 billion in IT spending through 2016. Companies will begin looking for ways to leverage Big Data solutions to create business value and a competitive advantage.For example, more companies will implement Big Data solutions to help analyze website traffic and to gain a deeper understanding of their customer base by identifying key trends in online viewing and purchasing behaviors. As the interest in Big Data increases, so too will the realization that these solutions are complicated and difficult to deploy. As a result, there will be a big initial focus on looking for ways to take the time and complexity out of Big Data implementations."

Cloud has made the economics of working with big data reasonable and accessible to a wider audience. It’s no longer just the biggest corporations that can hope to leverage big data to make their businesses more efficient. Because the capex costs that made big data cost prohibitive are gone, more businesses are now able to effectively leverage big data. Beyond the buzzword, now it’s a matter of finding the talent to help.

While Hadoop seems to be in the eye of the Big Data storm, GigaSpaces CTO Nati Shalom sees competition on the horizon, “fragmentation, the move to real time, and the rise of competitors in this space may be honing in on the elephant’s territory.” NoSQL vendors such as 10Gen (MongoDB) and Datastax (Cassandra) taking advantage of Hadoop’s numerous, and often incompatible versioning by leading enterprises, are suddenly presenting real viable alternatives to Hadoop distributions.

5. Community Clouds Target Industry Verticals

While the giants like Amazon Web Services (AWS) will focus on providing commodity cloud, more traditional service providers getting into cloud will target specific verticals or needs in order to differentiate. This has been dubbed “community cloud” by a variety of sources. “Organizations with common challenges such as the security and compliance constraints shared by healthcare organizations can better address those requirements by leveraging the high caliber resources and personnel that community clouds can provide,” said CA's George Watt in his predictions.

One of the biggest needs is compliance and security requirements for a given vertical, meaning you’ll start to see a lot of specific vertical-targeted clouds like “healthcare cloud” or “legal cloud”. By grouping like-minded and similar needs, these community clouds will be able to leverage the economies of public with the specific needs of a private cloud.

6. 2013: The Year of Disaster Recovery in the Cloud

“Demand for DR as a service in the cloud has not waned,” says Nicos Vekiarides,  CEO of TwinStrata. “In fact, there has been more business and enterprise adoption of cloud DRaaS requiring no dedicated infrastructure — though buyers should beware of dedicated hosted DR parading as cloud DR."

Rackspace's Engates believes recent natural disasters will kick cloud DR into high gear. "The cloud will help these companies respond more quickly," said Engates in his predictions. "The frictionless nature of moving workloads between clouds in the face of a disaster is huge, as it gives companies the flexibility they need to adapt. The cloud will be a key component of disaster recovery plans moving forward."

7. SLAs Move to the Forefront

At DCK, we’ve covered numerous cloud outages over the years. The combination of high profile outages with more businesses moving to the cloud will bring service level agreements more and more to the forefront of the conversation.  CA's Watt sees SLAs taking center stage, and large enterprises driving practices around SLAs.

"Larger enterprises - which have lots of experience creating and negotiating both sides of SLAs - will help drive discipline, completeness, and sanity to cloud SLAs; as will the large providers they have long trusted, as those providers increase their cloud service offerings,” said Watt.

8. Mobile will Drive Cloud Further Toward "Atomized" Services

The web is in our pockets. More people worldwide are using mobile devices to access the internet, meaning more and more data will be stored and accessed in the cloud.

“Today's mobile applications have proven the value that atomization (delivering small, limited - or even single - function applications) delivers to both the app consumer and the app provider,” said Watt. It's a trend he sees occuring to applications in general. “In addition more applications will be architected specifically for cloud computing. These cloud architected applications will exploit the increased resilience, agility, and performance cloud computing can offer."

9. A Move from Alternative to Main, from Conceptual to Actual

Tier 3 predicts that Enterprises will move from pilots to projects, and that architecture takes a front seat. "Companies now understand the value proposition and risks of cloud. Architecture expertise will be in demand as companies look to effectively design their network and storage landscape to take advantage of distributed cloud services," Tier 3 predicts.

“In 2013, I believe we’ll reach a point where enterprises and Internet companies will have a clearer view of how best to combine solutions to solve their real-world problems using the cloud ecosystem,” said SoftLayer's Skarda.  “As cloud infrastructure and applications mature, users will seek more robust solutions that enable them to move from their own datacenters, more effectively manage big data and gain business agility.”

10. Open Clouds

An open approach to cloud will be the way of the future. Nati Shalom, CTO of GigaSpaces likes the promise of open clouds.

“There’s no arguing that Amazon has been the alpha dog of the IaaS market, with even its closest competitor – Rackspace not posing much of a threat," writes Shalom. "But lo and behold, enter Google and Microsoft – who just might have what it takes to gain some real market share from Amazon, all depending on whether they take advantage of the opportunity at hand and maneuver correctly.  The more exciting trend though IMO, is the actual viability of real production-grade open source alternatives.  Until recently, OpenStack was unable to properly compete with the leading IaaS vendors due to a lack of maturity –but now with numerous GAed (General Availability) cloud offerings by large enterprises and cloud vendors– from Rackspace through HP, and more to come – and even more importantly a real enterprise client reference, Cisco’s Webex, the open source coalition behind OpenStack has a real disruptive technology in its hands.  And let’s not forget the possibilities at hand when considering the convergence of network and applications – innovation in infrastructure utilization can now be taken to a whole new level."

Engates says 2012 was just the beginning for OpenStack. "Today there are more than 6,000 contributing developers with 850 organizations participating in the initiative," he writes. "The OpenStack community has grown to include marquee technology companies like EMC and VMware. And 2013 is where OpenStack will really hit its stride. At Rackspace, we launched our open cloud built on OpenStack this year. Next year, the innovation around OpenStack will continue to rapidly expand; at Rackspace and dozens of other cloud providers. More companies and individuals will be involved in making OpenStack the true Linux of the cloud. OpenStack sparked a revolution in 2012, and that torch will be carried through 2013 as openness becomes one of the main tenets of cloud computing."

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