Last year, in my cloud predictions for 2012, I focused heavily on how open source code will become the standard and how the future will be mobile. In 2012, we at Rackspace officially launched our open cloud effort built on OpenStack; and mobility now dominates day-to-day work and life.
As we look ahead to 2013, the cloud computing market is yet again undergoing a major shift. OpenStack will become THE open source cloud platform. Big Data will also be a huge topic of discussion, as will the massive explosion in the number of connected devices.
Here are my cloud predictions (in no particular order) for 2013:
Last year was just the beginning for OpenStack. Today there are more than 6,000 contributing developers with 850 organizations participating in the initiative. The OpenStack community has grown to include marquee technology companies like EMC and VMware. And 2013 is where OpenStack will really hit its stride. At Rackspace, we launched our open cloud built on OpenStack this year. Next year, the innovation around OpenStack will continue to rapidly expand; at Rackspace and dozens of other cloud providers. More companies and individuals will be involved in making OpenStack the true Linux of the cloud. OpenStack sparked a revolution in 2012, and that torch will be carried through 2013 as openness becomes one of the main tenets of cloud computing.
This is the year when Big Data makes its way into enterprise conversations. Gartner predicts that Big Data will drive $232 billion in IT spending through 2016. Companies will begin looking for ways to leverage Big Data solutions to create business value and a competitive advantage. For example, more companies will implement Big Data solutions to help analyze website traffic and to gain a deeper understanding of their customer base by identifying key trends in online viewing and purchasing behaviors. As the interest in Big Data increases, so too will the realization that these solutions are complicated and difficult to deploy. As a result, there will be a big initial focus on looking for ways to take the time and complexity out of Big Data implementations.
The PC used to be the center of the universe. But now there are myriad devices and the PC is only one of many. In fact, now it’s becoming more of an Internet of things as opposed to an Internet of people. How many of our devices will have no screen and automatically do things on behalf of humans? The vast majority is my guess. These devices will include electric meters, sensors, surveillance cameras, cars, etc. Everything we have will be connected. The power meter in your home that’s connected to the smart grid will constantly stream and store data in the cloud. The camera with Wi-Fi that streams photos will be connected to the cloud via Wi-Fi or 4G. Everything will have a connection to cloud services, as the cloud is the backend that makes it all possible.
This Internet of things also means the cloud is more important than ever. The cloud provides the central hub for all of these devices, as well as context about the user that can be tapped into and shared to make the product or service better. The cloud is also where the analytical data from all of these “things” is processed and stored, which again speaks to how important Big Data solutions will be in the year ahead.
Whether it’s the catastrophic Tsunami in Japan, the deadly tornado outbreaks throughout the Mid-West or the devastating hurricane that just hit the East Coast, companies are being challenged to figure out how to maintain business operations in the midst of natural disasters. It’s happening more frequently and it’s a trend that will likely continue in the year ahead. The cloud will help these companies respond more quickly. The frictionless nature of moving workloads between clouds in the face of a disaster is huge, as it gives companies the flexibility they need to adapt. The cloud will be a key component of disaster recovery plans moving forward.
We started to see this trend evolve in late 2012, but in 2013 companies will use SSDs for their cloud storage needs at an increasing rate. SSDs will be embedded into more devices, laptops and data centers. While standard drives for storage will continue to be used, SSDs will offer a higher performance option that is fast, super low energy and contain no moving parts. As more SSDs are used, costs will come down and create a virtuous cycle. This cycle will kick off in 2013, as we will begin to see many more options for SSD in the cloud.
As the tech industry continues its shift towards cloud computing and companies continue to implement public, private and hybrid clouds at an increasing rate, the typical IT manager, system administrator and even the CIO will soon be forced to develop a much broader skill set. This trend will help create a new job market that is ripe for those who have a generalized skill set including potentially a developer background – think DevOps — vs. deep experience within a single specialized area.