New Year, New Cloud? 2014 Predictions
With the new year quickly approaching, several industry leaders have made predictions for the cloud in 2014. From the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) movement to storage and the widening of "as-a-service" offerings, changes are coming to the cloud and mobility.
The Industrial Internet, Web Apps and Getting GaaS
According to contributor Suhas Sreedhar in a December 10 Forbes article, 72 percent of small and midsize businesses virtualized "significant portions of their servers" in 2013, and this number is set to rise in the new year. 2014 is predicted to bring many new technological advancements to the table. One of the biggest trends is the continuation of the "Industrial Internet", also known as the "Internet of Things." This concept — which combines big data, intelligent machines and end-user apps — has been on the horizon for several years, but improvements to cloud computing technology may finally make it possible to change the operations and production landscape by linking all forms of technology to a central platform rather than simply to PCs and mobile devices.
Platform-agnostic, HTML5-based apps are also on the way, which take the burden off local stacks and place it entirely in the cloud. In addition, Sreedhar predicted the growth of graphics as a service (GaaS), which could revolutionize the gaming and design industries by moving hardware-intensive graphic applications to off-site servers.
For midsize IT professionals, the primary benefit of this new year is the diversification of technology. Instead of distributed network technology as a service, 2014 sees it becoming the de facto medium through which all services are delivered. Ideally, this means less piece-by-piece IT spending since what is purchased should not require time-consuming deployment on the part of administrators. It also points to a continuation of the shift in priorities for technology professionals; the ongoing care of externally-delivered, internal-use compute environments is quickly replacing familiar, rapid-fire issue resolution. Additionally, with the cost of managed services dropping, there is little doubt that companies will be drawn to providers that can satisfy a broad array of needs. In other words, IT departments need to get on board or risk falling behind.
The IT Evolution
A recent article on ZDNet also discussed 2014 predictions but shifted the focus to IT in particular, arguing that the new year will ring in a move from grudging approval to full strategies and management solutions. Software-as-a-service will become the primary purchase channel for applications, rendering the in-house licensing model obsolete. In addition, open source automation solutions will replace existing proprietary options to empower teams and developers rather than large corporations. Security will also get a makeover as the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) movement continues to dominate, but with an emphasis on data encryption. Perimeter network security, meanwhile, is shifting from network to data as traditional borders disappear. Zero-trust policies will emerge to help IT professionals control their most valuable asset: Information.
Ultimately, predictions for the new year boil down to integration. IT professionals can no longer afford to keep the cloud at arm's length; they must instead find a way to embrace and refine it to suit their needs. Employees and consumers alike have come to expect continuity and agility and will not be satisfied with solutions that do not tap into the full power of distributed offerings. Developers and executives are just as determined: The C-suite wants access to production and sales numbers on the fly while DevOps does not see the point in paying for something that can be created using open source alternatives. The bottom line is that with the new year comes a new attitude. IT departments should expect big things from the cloud in 2014.
This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.