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Five Cloud Computing Predictions for 2010

I have always said, the sky’s the limit when it comes to cloud computing

Opening Keynote at Cloud Expo

Cloud Computing Expo - I guess that I’m a bit late in the game here to throw my predictions into the clouds but late is better than never, right? It has been an exciting year for us here at GoGrid. We had many stellar and innovative announcements which you can read about here. Before I quickly go into some of my thoughts for 2010, it makes sense to see how well I did for 2009. My original predictions were here and were as follows (coupled with a quick analysis).

  1. Cloud Reduce the Effect of the Recession – Businesses definitely did not spend as much last year, however, the interest in the cloud as a financially viable way to “survive” gained traction throughout the year. All major cloud providers (including GoGrid) showed growth during the year despite the recession.
  2. Broader Depth of Clouds – the cloud continued to grow throughout the year. More smaller and larger players jumped into the mix. The relative “unknown” of the cloud began to become much clearer.
  3. VC’s, Money & Long Term Viability – hard to gauge this one without knowing what VC’s were investing in. But given the strength of leaders like AWS, Rackspace and GoGrid and the continued development therein, the long term viability seemed solid.
  4. Partnerships Galore & Weeding Out of Providers – As is evident with GoGrid’s growing partner list, this is really where the marketplace was expanding. Partners bring subject-matter expertise to the cloud, allowing for medium to large providers to focus on their core competencies. There were not big failures of providers during 2009 but the shakeout may start in 2010.
  5. Hybrid Solutions – we continued to lead the way with robust hybrid solutions in the form of cloud front-ends coupled with physical back-end server. Not too many other providers announced things similar, but I believe these will materialize this year.
  6. Web 3.0 – the “social web” definitely took off this year, as did the whole (vague) concept of data being “in the cloud”. Web 3.0 wasn’t officially announced but there were definitely lots of companies mashing up their services/data in unique, new offerings.
  7. Standards and Interoperability – many separate groups continued to work towards open standards and interoperability with definite progress being made. Unfortunately, these groups are still splintered with individuals and companies working towards their own agenda.
  8. Staggered Growth within the Cloud – the big players continued to get bigger, leaving some of the smaller or non-visionary thinkers a bit behind. More users started looking away from shared hosting and more towards the cloud for solutions. Smaller startups continued to advance using the cloud to power their infrastructure with the enterprise still testing the waters or using the cloud sporadically.
  9. Technology Advances at the Cloud Molecular Level – chip manufacturers and computer/server vendors did announce chipsets and systems optimized for the cloud.
  10. Larger Adoption – still not as fast as I expected, but the fact that the Federal (and State) governments were (and are) putting some serious thought and development work around cloud computing shows that adoption is growing across the board.

Just quickly scanning through my “results” shows that I wasn’t too off track. Some items fared a bit better than others but for the most part my “predictions” were fairly close. So what about 2010? Here’s what I’m thinking:

  1. Cloud Outages – There will be several Cloud Outages that get high visibility this year. As complexity and associated infrastructure grows and more users turn toward the cloud, any hiccups therein will receive quick and broad media coverage, with naysayers quickly stating “I told you so”. Unfortunately, any type of outage may be perceived as a “cloud failure”, resulting in the masses becoming increasingly doubtful in the reliability of the cloud. This “F.U.D. Factor” will be a steep hurdle that cloud providers and partners will have to overcome. Those companies with sound IT strategies and best practices in place will be able to weather any outages well, assuming they employ Disaster Recovery (DR) solutions and have them implemented.
  2. The Rise of Hybrid Hosting Solutions – While relatively new in 2009, more providers will consider implementing the ability to have the “best of all worlds” hosting solutions. Whether this be the combination of physical and cloud environments or, cloud bursting, or private and public clouds working congruently, there will definitely be a blurring of lines between what hosting is.
  3. Security Concerns, Vulnerabilities and Malware – this is an only logical prediction. As the number of cloud or virtualized environments increase due to their ease of use and lower cost, the possibility of environments being created and left unattended also increases. Also because of the ease of use, with “average” users deploying environments that are not hardened or at least audited from a security standpoint, there are more possibilities for hackers or users to unintentionally open their systems up to malware, botnets or other malicious code.
  4. A “Cloud” for Everyone – Towards the end of last year, we started to see a blurring of the definition of “cloud” and “cloud computing”. The mainstream media is to blame for much of this confusion. To that end, people seem to be ubiquitously interchanging the word “cloud” and “cloud computing” where they are actually quite different. Most people are simply using the word “cloud” to describe anything where the data is stored somewhere else, whether it be truly using a “cloud computing” environment or simply a cluster of servers somewhere. I predict that this confusion will get worse long before it gets better. People will continue to interchangeably use “cloud” and “cloud computing” thus forcing those of us in the industry to (re)define what “cloud computing” truly is. However, as the word “cloud” becomes incredibly mainstream, it will grow to mean anything that is delivered via the web, regardless of if it is applications, services, infrastructure, data or what have you. (In fact, I used “cloud” interchangeably throughout this post…for me, I’m talking about “cloud computing.”)
  5. Analysts will Shorten their “Coming of Age” Stories – Many of the big name players predicted that cloud computing wouldn’t really be adopted by the mainstream for another few years. I believe that they will retract or refine their statements to show how much closer to mainstream cloud computing really is. While Fortune100 companies may still be slow to adopt, the “rest of us” will get on the cloud a lot faster than analysts originally predicted.

I have always said, the sky’s the limit when it comes to cloud computing. What are your thoughts or predictions? Is 2010 going to be the year of “cloud adoption”? “Cloud expansion”? “Cloud acceleration”? Or just “the year of the cloud.”

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More Stories By Michael Sheehan

Michael Sheehan is the Technology Evangelist for Cloud Computing Infrastructure provider GoGrid and ServePath and is an avid technology pundit. GoGrid is the cloud hosting division of ServePath Dedicated Hosting, a company with extensive expertise and experience in web hosting infrastructure. Follow him on Twitter.

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