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Coming in 2014: Cloud Sprawl, Personal Clouds and More

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What does the road ahead hold for cloud computing in 2014? Bill Kleyman offers his thoughts.

Every year around this time, technologists look to the future to see what might be next. There was a lot of innovation in 2013, with many new technologies and solutions emerging to enhance cloud, virtualization and the data center. As organizations continue to evolve and change the way they consume information, the world of IT will have to follow suit. The user is also evolving, taking in vast amounts of data in entirely new ways.

So what can we expect in 2014?  The way we compute on a distributed scale will be changing and becoming much better, but there will also be challenges. Let’s take a look.

  • Cloud sprawl. We’ve had all sorts of other sprawling issues. Why not the cloud? Remember, virtualization and cloud computing play very closely together. It’s very easy to have rogue VMs sitting in your own data center. In some cases, it’s just as easy to do so in the cloud. If you don’t manage your resources or your cloud instances, you will encounter serious sprawling problems. Some organizations that are new to the cloud need to understand that this platform comes with costs. In 2014, make sure you have good controls around your cloud environment regardless of the cloud model you adopt.
  • The personal cloud. We spoke about this technology back in September. Now big vendors and technologists are all jumping on the personal cloud bandwagon. Imagine a little piece of you and your personality living in the cloud. This becomes, literally, your “digital self.” This digital you would browse online, buy things, access remote applications, download data, and utilize technology just like you would normally. However, your own personal cloud also learns how you compute and helps completely optimize your experience. Here’s the big piece: your personal cloud will understand anomalies. For example, if your personal cloud sees you buying random gear and shipping it to a different country, it’ll raise a flag on your behalf. Your personal cloud will be your personal guide to the cloud and the future Internet.
  • Evolution of the hybrid cloud model. Already we’re seeing some huge pushes from big companies around hybrid cloud delivery and control. We’ve got management platforms, hypervisor manufacturers, and even providers all offering hybrid cloud solutions. In the future, almost all cloud models will be some type of hybrid platform. With so much interconnected infrastructure spanning private and public zones, many cloud environments will simply be referred to as a hybrid cloud. Identifiers like regions, zones and organizational types would become new ways to differentiate services. Having the capability to expand existing resources into the cloud will grow in popularity as more organizations extend their environments into a hybrid cloud model.
  • New types of security. There’s going to be a lot of innovation around this area. Information is traveling greater distances and becoming much more valuable. Because organizations are presenting themselves on a larger scale, cloud security becomes a big concern. New types of security appliances, services, and virtual security platforms will all make their way into the data center of the future. The modern infrastructure will be interspersed with both physical and virtual security solutions creating contextual identities around users, devices and the data that traverses the organizational cloud. Already we are seeing compliance and regulation rules bend to better support cloud computing. New security methods will help with applications, data and user controls as cloud computing becomes even more prevalent.
  • Better application integration. There is becoming less focus on the operating system and a lot more focus around the application itself. We’ve been able to abstract data, applications and the hardware to create new types of delivery models. Application integration is critical for the growth of cloud computing and the future data center. New APIs will allow for fewer hops between applications and critical resource points. Moving forward, application development will take on new code, new ways to delivery its payload, and optimized way to secure the entire framework. The application of tomorrow will need to be hardware agnostic while still pushing the best possible user experience.
  • True Mobility (data + devices). At first, it was all about BYOD. Now, we’ve become a bit wiser. The true definition of mobility really doesn’t revolve around anything physical. Rather, it’s the user’s ability to access applications and their data as efficiently as possible. This could be from a computer, a phone, or even a tablet. The user is not tied to any piece of hardware. The future will revolve around true mobility in the sense that users will be able to obtain their necessary workloads regardless of the device they are using. The days of the PC are numbered. The “data on-demand” generation is constantly connected and always needs access to their information. Future technologies will revolve around optimizing the user’s ability to be mobility-ready.
  • The new end-point. As we mentioned earlier, the dependence on a physical end-point will be diminishing. Organizations will want their users to be productive regardless of the device they’re using. Having to manage PCs, hardware lifecycles, refreshes, and patches can be very burdensome. This is why many organizations are looking at thin and zero clients as a solution. Plus, mobile-ready devices can help optimize user interaction even more. Some may argue that thin-client technology has been around for a while. Although this is true, the capabilities of the modern data center are more revolutionary. We have more bandwidth, high-density server gear, and the ability to stream virtual images. We’re no longer packing deprecated operating systems on minimalist hardware. We’re now delivering a full user experience via a virtual desktop or application to a truly optimized zero-client.  
  • Robotics and automation. We’ve covered this topic in the past. We’ve received a lot of great feedback and points of debate. We had supporters and we’ve had challengers. The bottom line is that the market-makers are setting their sights on robotics and automation in the data center and the future cloud model. Google is buying up robotics shops, IBM is retro-fitting Roomba robots to gauge data center environmental variables, and entire automation services are being created to help organizations optimize their environments. Manufacturing, automotive, and warehousing all made the robotics and automation leap. The increase in data center reliance means that more infrastructure and even greater amounts of data will be inside of the environment. To maintain optimal data center efficiency, organizations will need to look at automation and robotics as a means to control their environment. We’re not there yet – but 2014 will see a lot of advancements around intelligent robotics.

It’s always exciting to look into the future to see what new technologies are around the corner. Over the past few years, it really feels like someone pressed the fast-forward button on technology. We’ve seen entirely new compute methods emerge, new types of distributed networks, and truly advanced ways to control traffic.

The data center is becoming increasingly intelligent and the modern organization is pretty much completely reliant on their IT infrastructure. Over the course of the next few years, nearly every organization will be in the cloud in some fashion. Even small organizations will realize that their entire infrastructure is completely cloud-based. The big changes will come around a few key areas:

  • User mobility.
  • Data center efficiency.
  • Technological interconnection.

With so many new ways to receive information, organizations will work to optimize delivery methods and create an infrastructure capable of meeting future demands. It’s going to be an interesting few years for a lot of verticals. Everything from manufacturing to healthcare will experience the information technology shift. Whether it’s creating more automation or allowing for HIPAA-compliant cloud-based file collaboration, the future technology model will need to be ever-robust; and ever-ready to take on new challenges.

About the Author

Bill Kleyman is a veteran, enthusiastic technologist with experience in data center design, management and deployment. His architecture work includes virtualization and cloud deployments as well as business network design and implementation. Currently, Bill works as the National Director of Strategy and Innovation at MTM Technologies, a Stamford, CT based consulting firm.

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