At the end of 2012 there was one clear takeaway about the cloud computing market — enterprise use has arrived. Cloud use is no longer solely hiding in the shadows, IT departments are no longer denying it's happening, and legitimate budgeting around cloud is now taking place.
According to the latest Forrsights surveys, nearly half of all enterprises in North America and Europe will set aside budget for private cloud investments in 2013 and nearly as many software development managers are planning to deploy applications to the cloud.
So what does that mean for the coming year? In short, cloud use in 2013 will get real. We can stop speculating, hopefully stop cloudwashing, and get down to the real business of incorporating cloud services and platforms into our formal IT portfolios. Here is what we expect to happen when enterprise gets real about cloud in 2013:
1. We will finally stop saying that everything is going cloud, and get real about what fits and what does not. We now have enough understanding about what makes cloud platforms different from traditional virtual infrastructures and traditional hosting environments to make architecturally sound decisions about which applications to move to the cloud.
2. Cloud and mobile will become one. What's the value of a mobile app that does not call out through the Internet to back-end services? Not much. More often than not, we are finding mobile applications connected to cloud-based back-end services that can elastically respond to mobile client engagements and shield your data center from this traffic.
3. We will stop stressing about cloud SLAs, and recognize that apps have to protect themselves. The best practice for cloud application design and configuration is to build resiliency into the application rather than expect it from the cloud platform. This way you can achieve any service-level agreement regardless of the base SLA provided by the cloud platform.
4. We will get real about cost modeling. Do the math, understand the economics, and monitor and optimize as your use evolves. If you want to get the best ROI out of your use of cloud services and platforms, you need to actively model the cost profile of your applications, monitor their resource use, and adjust accordingly. Cost should not solely drive your cloud deployment decisions, but cost can no longer be ignored or assumed.
5. Infrastructure & operations will free the development teams to build apps in the cloud. The developers do not really need I&O's permission, and our surveys show the business-unit-aligned developers certainly are not waiting for it. In 2013 the I&O team will get comfortable with the fact that development on public clouds is going to happen whether they like it or not and it is easier for them to engage developers and be part of the conversation about how to do it safely, securely, and with appropriate oversight.
6. We will get real about using the cloud for backup and disaster recovery. Instead of enterprises buying resources in case of a disaster, cloud computing and its pay-per-use pricing model lets you pay for long-term data storage while only paying for servers when testing or declaring a disaster. It probably will not replace your existing BC/DR resources completely, but the cloud is turning the cost of storage upside down faster every month, and what was cheaper to back up to traditional DR storage last year will be cheaper and easier to put in the cloud is short order — and faster to recover.
7. We will stop equating cloud with commodity.
Cloud services are highly standardized and automated, but standardization does not have to mean commodity. We are already seeing cloud services backed by high-end hardware, offering GPUs, SSDs, and other clearly non-commodity infrastructure options. In 2013 expect to see the proliferation of these types of choices as cloud providers leverage them to meet specific market demands and to differentiate competitively.
8. We will stop equating cloud with AWS. While Amazon Web Services has opened up a substantial lead in the cloud platforms market — arguably as large as 70 percent market share — in 2013 we will see that market position give way to a cadre of strengthening competitors and new entrants. Microsoft and Google have made significant improvements to their platforms, and by the end of 2013 we fully expect to see at least three substantial OpenStack-based clouds building strong positions.
9. We will acknowledge that advanced virtualization is a good thing, and no, it's not a cloud. The cloudwashing award for 2012 definitely goes to enterprise I&O departments who relabeled last year's VMware environment a private cloud so they could "get to yes" in the eyes of their CIO. Very few of these environments offered self-service to the developer, fully-automated provisioning, standardized services, or cost transparency. In 2013, let's get real about these environments.
A mostly static virtual environment that successfully drives workload consolidation, operational efficiencies and fast recovery is a good thing — a very good thing.
10. Developers will awaken to: Development is not all that different in the cloud. Our cloud developer survey shows that the majority of languages, frameworks, and development methodologies we use in the enterprise are also in use in the cloud. What's different isn't the coding but the services orientation and the need to configure the application to provide its own availability and performance. And frankly this is not all that new either. So, while some of the best practices and cloud services may be new, there are few excuses for a well-trained developer to not be productive in the cloud.