As the year winds down, predictions for 2012 are flourishing. Last year I published my own, and frankly, was not too bad at it. This year, I cheated a little and first read what others have published, made my own conclusions and would like to propose you five themes for 2012.
For the last four years, Cloud did remain at the peak of inflated expectations in the Gartner Hype Cycle. I believe this year cloud will finally progress beyond that point. There are a number of reasons for this. Cloud technologies are maturing and both private and public cloud offerings provide solid IaaS functionality. Increasingly PaaS environments such as CloudFoundry & AppFog appear on the market, and IDC predicts that in 2012 over 80% of new commercial enterprise apps will be deployed on cloud platforms.
There will be public cloud outages, but that will not stop enterprises using cloud. Larger companies will focus on private cloud, while smaller will continue embracing the public cloud. We may see the first practical implementations of cloud bursting, but that will depend on the transparency of the security & compliance approaches taken by public cloud. Indeed, this remains the largest barrier to large scale public cloud adoption in enterprises. For example, Office365 failed BAE’s legal team review. I have not seen effort yet by most public cloud service providers to address that issue. Legislation may appear in that space during 2012, particularly in Europe. In the US, we will need to keep an eye on SOPA as this may have dramatic effects on the use of the internet, and cloud.
The debate is moving away from a discussion on whether to use public or private cloud. Most enterprises come to realize they will have to use both public and private clouds. One size does not fit all. There is a slow change from an infrastructure to a services discussion, making the use of multiple clouds more relevant.
Cloud and Open Source
Larger service providers start implementing open source based cloud environments to avoid vendor lock in. They however realize it’s not the panacea, and it’s not cheaper. The money not spent in licenses is spent on integrating the functionalities and maintaining the environment. However, open source software stacks such as OpenStack progress quickly and we should see the first commercial open source based cloud stacks appearing on the market, allowing enterprises to encompass more than just VMWare as Ellen Rubin points out. How quickly those will be adopted, still remains to be seen.
As more companies adopt open source applications for use as the foundation blocks of their commercial, internet-oriented infrastructure, we will see an explosion of open source development of collaboration, analysis and other business applications. These will particularly apply to “context” type business areas, where a “best effort” development and support is acceptable. “Core” business areas will most probably remain in legacy environments or private clouds.
The new term that appeared in 2011 is definitely big data. And it’s there to stay. Jeremy Geelan says it very simply: “Using Big Data in the cloud becomes as common as, well, data.” And he is right. Business Intelligence has become more prevalent over the last 3 years, but this is different. Companies are slowly coming to the realization that social media is a tremendous tool to understand customers and markets better. But the analysis capabilities are still in their infancy. I strongly believe that this will change in 2012 and that, slowly but surely, companies will be able to gain a better understanding of how they are perceived by the market.
The next focus area is in my mind, the combined analysis of structured and unstructured data. But Gartner puts a sobering note to my prediction by saying that “Through 2015, more than 85 percent of Fortune 500 organizations will fail to effectively exploit big...”. I believe however that leading companies will increase their leadership by using such approaches and demonstrate success. Gartner predicts that, “The need to access, and the ability to identify, individual customers, products and suppliers referenced in “big data” sources such as social networks, and to link them to internally authored master data, will provide new opportunities to improve marketing, sales and customer service.”
As James Staten from Forrester points out: “Shadow IT enters the light – deal with it.” Many CIO’s still operate as ostriches, denying the obvious. As they are unable to deliver the needs of the business, the business is bypassing them and using public cloud services. This ultimately puts the enterprise at risk.
As such behavior proliferates, CIO’s will be confronted with it, whether they like it or not. And I believe 2012 is the it will happen. A public cloud outage, a compliance audit or a malicious attack may well demonstrate the vulnerability in a dramatic way. And don’t believe I’m a catastrophist, many things point to the fact one or more major cloud environments will be hit with a massive security attack in 2012. So, COI’s better deal with it, and do it quickly.
The rebirth of the Client/Server
The “split browser” idea implemented in Amazon’s Silk browser is demonstrating the true integration of cloud and mobile devices. This will increasingly lead to “split processing” as Jeremy Geelan calls it. In my vocabulary, it’s plain client/server again. The client is the mobile device, the server a cloud, but frankly the principles remain the same. That probably shows you my age, but in 2012, many programmers will re-invent the same approaches over again.
Isn’t that what IT is all about?
A “split processing” approach will change the cloud experience all together as it makes the cloud portal irrelevant. It however introduces the concept of an “app store” in the enterprise.
In my mind, Cloud and Big Data will be the buzzwords of 2012. If I look at Google trends, cloud is way up there, big data is starting to grow quickly. But as I pointed out, the cloud debate is shifting away from an infrastructure discussion. We have not fully embraced what “services” really mean in a cloud context and what the implications of that shift are. I strongly believe 2012 will lead us way down that path. It may also demonstrate that cloud can be used not just to do the same IT jobs at a lower cost, but also to innovate in decision making, product/service development and collaboration. What do you think?