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2010 in Cloud Computing: GAME ON!

What do Virtualization and Cloud executives think about 2010?  Find out in this VMblog.com series exclusive.

Contributed Article by Patrick Kerpan, CTO, CohesiveFT

2010 in Cloud Computing: GAME ON!

Looking back on my 2009 predictions they were "thematic" (http://vmblog.com/archive/2008/12/10/2009-in-virtualization-and-cloud-computing-the-year-of-the-virtualization-professional.aspx).  I think I did a decent job of capturing the spirit of the year - although I didn't particularly foresee the "cloud washing" that was going to take place.  I am not sure, but I think even my local dry cleaner was offering some sort of cloud solution in 2009.

(As a note, at CohesiveFT we are liberal in our cloud definition, so when I say "cloud" I mean public, private, partner, hybrid, etc..)

This year I will aim to be a bit more predictive - and with mere hours left on  '09, here goes.

Enterprise adoption of cloud computing enabled solutions will begin to take off.
In 2010 we finally will begin to get beyond the early adopters.  This is not the "early majority", but perhaps the beginning of the early majority.  I call this the "early pragmatists".

Enterprise "Early Pragmatists" will begin initial deployments of agile infrastructure and "private cloud" based on Windows Server 2008 R2.
The reality of the enterprise is that Windows is the deep end of the pool.  The whole agile infra and private cloud game has been playing out in the Linux world to date - not the enterprise sweet spot.  Check your email inbox and the trade magazines,  the Windows Server 2008 push is on by Microsoft, by its system integrator partners and the big resellers like Dell and HP.   This is the starting gun for the next generation enterprise data center.

"POA" (plain old applications) becomes the dominant cloud story.
Up until now the cloud story has been dominated by examples like Animoto and UK Channel4 - variable, huge scale stories.  In some ways these successes have confused the enterprise - plain old IT guys hear these examples and think "I don't need that, my applications don't scale, don't need to scale".  Enterprise IT lives out its life one business topology at a time.  These topologies have 5 to 20 servers in them, fairly tightly coupled, and don't talk to other business topologies.  This is "plain old applications".   We did a project with one customer that has 140 such topologies, ranging between 4 and 7 servers, and broadly speaking none of them talk to each other.  Helping enterprises embark on the long, slow migration of these systems to agile infrastructure is the payoff.  Statistically this is where all the money is - and this is where the market will begin to focus. 

Another public cloud super scale provider will NOT emerge.
For Infrastructure as a Service, Amazon is the only super scale player.  The big market participants with billions in capital will announce more and more clouds and cloud services - but there won't be a super scale infrastructure that gives you easy, credit card based, no sales people, API-driven use of virtualized containers.  My icon for this is HP.  They will announce wondrous, magical things in press releases, complete with quotes from customers - but somehow the rest of us won't be able to see it or use it.

The server operating system is back and it is "oh cr**" time for the hypervisor vendors.
After years of providing a "thin layer of software called a hypervisor" to enable the running of virtual machines, now it's back to operating systems.  All current Linux operating systems run virtual machines compliments of KVM, and of course Windows Server 2008 runs virtual machines.  As VMware and others began targeting the server virtualization market, think back to the phrase that was used.  You were told you didn't need a server operating system any more, rather, and in their words, "you install a thin layer of software called a hypervisor".   I always loved the turn of phrase "called a hypervisor", not "is a hypervisor".  This was a critical piece of positioning that helped this market take off.  Alternatively, if customer's had known they were installing a custom Linux OS from a virtualization vendor, things would have been quite different.

It is "game on" for acquisitions.
The major systems players (including leading virtualization vendors) are coming to the consensus that "this cloud thing is real" (IDC says $17 billion in '09) and massive amounts of capital are lining up to put  into place new computing infrastructures.  Given that these large vendors often buy innovation - I expect few, if any, of the main ecosystem players will make it out of the year "unacquired".  I would be shocked to see many of the companies like Rightscale, CohesiveFT, Elastra, rPath, 3tera, Scalent, Vmlogix, Skytap, etc. to be standalone operations in 2011.

"Cures for baldness" and other magical claims begin to be called into question.
Ok, I understand positive spin, but outright lies are starting to bug me.  As a "follically challenged" person, I would know if there was a cure for baldness, because there would be no bald people.  Part of the cloud space intersects with systems management, automation and provisioning.  I find this part of the market littered with uncertain cures to enterprise ills.  One of the code phrases to look for should be "Now you can seamlessly provision into the cloud".  With all of CohesiveFT's capabilities like multi-cloud image management, multi-cloud overlay network, and multi-cloud configuration management we certainly agree that is the GOAL of enterprise cloud computing.  That said, I can guarantee you if any of the vendors that offer "seamless provisioning", "complete agentless discovery", or "automatic provisioning to any environment" actually could provide what they claim, then there would be NO SCREWED UP ENTERPRISE IT ENVIRONMENTS!  I think analysts, trade press and customers need to have a more skeptical eye to claims like this and believe we will see some push back on magical claims in 2010.

Sparc Solaris migration time is here.
The Oracle / Sun deal has taken too long.  Enterprises have begun the process they dread, making a migration plan to exit the Sparc architecture.  I am sure Sparc will live on in an up market, attack the mainframe mode, in Oracle land, but enterprises will bite the bullet to move away from its use as part of their general distributed computing platform.  Cloud computing and cloud automation will make this happen at a pace that will surprise us all.

Standards emergence will still be slow.
I still think we are in an early, sort of "pre cambrian" era of cloud computing and agile infrastructure.  This isn't a statement against standards - it is just my view of where we still are, which is expanding as much as contracting.  I do have a preference for "doers" proposing standards, instead of "talkers". 

The hardware support for software encryption conversation begins.
Hybrid, public, and even some private cloud use-cases mean everything needs to be encrypted from end to end - always - by default - end of story.  We need hardware assisted encryption on board.  Intel, AMD, Dell, IBM talk among yourselves. 

Happy New Year!
(and of course these are only my opinions not the opinions of my employer CohesiveFT)

About Patrick Kerpan
Patrick Kerpan is the chief technology officer (CTO) for CohesiveFT, the provider of the Elastic Server Platform, enabling customers to assemble, deploy and manage servers and clusters of servers for virtualized infrastructure and cloud computing. In this role, Kerpan is responsible for directing product and technology strategy.

Keep up with CohesiveFT at http://blog.elasticserver.com and http://www.twitter.com/elasticserver

Published Wednesday, December 30, 2009 5:00 AM by David Marshall
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Looking back on my 2010 predictions, I say I went 5 for 10, my colleagues insist it it is 7 for 10, you be the judge. (http://vmblog.com/archive/2009/12/30/2010-in-cloud-computing-game-on.aspx). Where I missed was actually believing that cloud-washing

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