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The Year of Change: 2009 Predictions from a Cloud Computing Pragmatist

What do virtualization executives think about 2009?  A VMBlog.com Series Exclusive.

Contributed By Steve Brodie, Chief Product and Marketing Officer of Skytap

The Year of Change: 2009 Predictions from a Cloud Computing Pragmatist

Maybe it’s the economy, but I’m feeling a lot more conservative than usual these days – especially, when it comes to making predictions.  But, after working at a cloud computing start-up for the past few years, I’m actually pretty confident about the future of the cloud in 2009.  Looking back, I’ve had the pleasure of seeing cloud computing evolve from a blank stare on a customer’s face, to a bona fide line item in next year’s budget.   In keeping with that trajectory, my overarching prediction for 2009 is that it will be the “year of change” (much like our president elect’s mantra for the nation), and we’ll see more companies dipping their toe into the cloud than the previous two years. With that in mind, I give you my five predictions for cloud computing in 2009.

  • Staged Adoption – Cloud computing really is a disruptive technology.  Like most disruptive technologies, we should still expect to experience a longer, staged adoption cycle.  In 2008, we saw “early adopters” such as web-based startups and forward-thinking departments in larger organizations embrace the cloud.  In 2009, I expect to see more mid-sized companies and enterprises begin to adopt the cloud for selective applications, possibly accelerated by the current economic climate and need to cut costs. Cloud computing offers substantial labor and hardware acquisition savings over in-house operations, mitigating the need for equipment and data center management experts which are expensive and hard to find.   Longer term (10 years from now), I anticipate we will continue along the staged adoption path to the point where a majority of companies will adopt cloud computing.
  • Hybrid Computing – In keeping with the above prediction, we can expect to see hybrid IT environments take off as cloud computing gains adoption with mid-sized and larger enterprises.  The benefit of hybrid computing is that it allows organizations to leverage a combination of both cloud and in-house resources.  The ability to support this type of environment will be critical in 2009, and we will likely see more cloud vendors and service providers introduce solutions that seamlessly bridge in-house and cloud environments. For a few large enterprises where IT is a key strategic advantage (e.g. financial services), we can expect to see a combination of data center operations experts that run some operations in house but use cloud computing for less strategic and sensitive apps.
  • Specialized Cloud Offerings – Next year, we will see more specialized clouds emerge beyond pure-play infrastructure cloud real estate.  These specialized clouds combine both the hardware and necessary software to solve specific customer problems.  They will target verticals like media or financialservices for large scale compute and content distribution needs, as well as address targeted pain points for IT like software testing, disaster recovery, storage and cloud-optimized virtual desktops.  Cloud computing is not a winner take all market – there are plenty of opportunities to go around for vendors and users alike.
  • Cloud Infrastructure – As cloud computing grows in popularity, there will likely be fewer direct enterprise buyers of computing infrastructure as they turn to cloud computing providers. In an effort to keep costs down and maintain margins, cloud vendors will find themselves in a highly leveraged position to drive hardware prices down.  As a result, hardware vendors will feel pressured to innovate rapidly to meet their needs, and value will be created by enabling the provisioning and maintenance of large-scale cloud environments.
  • Standards – With little exception, most cloud computing solutions are proprietary.  However, as the market begins to evolve, enterprises become sensitive to lock-in and seek more standardized ways to operate in the cloud.   For example, I expect we will see a high level of standardization around virtual machine and cloud portability standards, cloud monitoring, and pricing measurements (e.g. based on CPU cycles, web requests, GB of storage, etc.).

I am optimistic that 2009 will be a banner year for cloud computing.  It remains a buyer’s market, and we will see vendors aggressively focused on delivering solutions to meet specific customer pain points. At the same time, we will see higher adoption rates among enterprises who will venture into the cloud for the first time driven by the economic recession and its impact on IT budgets.

About Steve Brodie

Steve Brodie is Chief Product and Marketing Officer of Skytap, a provider of cloud-based virtual lab solutions. Prior to joining Skytap Steve worked at Hewlett Packard / Mercury Interactive, and held senior management roles at IBM via the acquisition of Rational Software, in addition to serving in a variety of consulting roles for IBM Global Services and Accenture.  For more of Steve’s commentaries on cloud computing, visit Skytap’s blog at http://www.skytap.com/

Published Monday, December 08, 2008 5:47 AM by David Marshall
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