The worldwide market for cloud-based solutions has been on fire for more than a decade, evolving from a handful of services offered by first movers such as Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure into a vast, diversified industry that could be worth $137 billion by 2017, according to Global Industry Analysts. A separate report from Synergy Research Group found that infrastructure- and platform-as-a-service offerings brought in a whopping $16 billion in revenue for cloud service providers in 2014.
Still, cloud deployment is in the early stages for many enterprises and SMBs. A lot of organizations got started with cloud computing a few years ago in the wake of the Great Recession as a way to trim their IT spend. Cloud services indeed have the potential to lower costs by more than one-third, but these savings are just one potential benefit among numerous others. Let’s examine how cloud software, platforms and infrastructure are changing to meet new end user expectations.
1) The open source cloud will become normal
There was a time when open source software was on the fringes of IT. Not anymore. For example, Linux-based servers are vital to Web and cloud-based applications everywhere, and Android is a popular choice for bring-your-own-device initiatives.
Similarly, there is now an abundance of open source cloud tools for businesses to work with. Options include OpenStack (essentially an operating system for the cloud), the container platform (and virtual machine alternative) Docker and innovations in software-defined networking such as OpenFlow. Research firm IDC has estimated that 20 percent of enterprises will use these sorts of community-driven solutions for cloud by 2017. SMBs may also gravitate to open source clouds in greater numbers in the years ahead.
“[Cloud] levels the playing field, giving smaller organizations the same capabilities as the big guys,” explained Rick Delgado for the TechNet UK Blog. “Beyond the competitive factor, open source cloud computing also features a large, closely knit community where businesses can find expert advice and support whenever they need help.”
2) Cloud and colocation services will be mixed more often
Running applications from hybrid IT environments can provide the best of both worlds: the scalability of public cloud resources, along with the security, control and dedicated performance of a colocation site or data center. One IT executive recently told Data Center Knowledge that most programs created in 2015 will leverage this mix of infrastructure.
Colo providers will increasingly reshape their solutions so that customers can access cloud services from high-performance facilities. These hybrid cloud setups may prove more flexible, cost-effective and secure than relying on either on-premises or cloud assets alone.
3) Personalized automation and DevOps will be more popular
In recent years, startups and enterprises alike have taken up DevOps automation as way to align their technical and business processes with the traits of cloud infrastructure. DevOps emphasizes collaboration between the development and operations teams, hence the name.
It also automates IT assets in order to support continuous software release cycles. Going forward, DevOps may provide a framework for individual workers to streamline their activities, creating what IDC has called a “consumer tier” for automation. It estimated that one-quarter of organizations will have such personalized workflows by 2017.
The cloud is not going away. In fact, it is set to evolve significantly over the remainder of this decade and mature into a comprehensive basis for IT.