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2015 cloud predictions: What to expect

Contributor George Lawton spoke with many industry experts to discuss 2015 cloud predictions.

Frequent SearchCloudApplications contributor George Lawton spoke with several industry experts about what to expect in 2015 for the cloud computing world. He takes direct quotes on topics such as containers, malware microservices, hybrid cloud and more on the current cloud computing trends. Check out cloud predictions from the experts for 2015.

Containerization will help move more workloads to the cloud

We are going to see much broader enterprise adoption of PaaS technologies, but a lot will start with containers like Docker in private clouds. To be sure the shift to public cloud will happen and is happening much faster for newly developed apps than for anything old. However, Docker will help bring some recently developed apps, if not old apps, into the cloud realm. 

-Al Hilwa, program director at IDC

Expect to see more in terms of moving workloads to the cloud. Also expect to see more utilities running against data to be handled in the cloud, including enterprise search, file auditing, antivirus. Enterprise architects will have to think about how to enable this transition in a secure, reliable, and cost-efficient manner.

- Peter Prinos, senior director of channel and business development at Panzura, a cloud storage service provider

Enterprise will move more traditional and new apps to the cloud and will require the flexible infrastructure to support these workloads. As enterprises carry baggage in the form of legacy applications and processes, in the short term we will see a transition from old to new, which will inevitably create hybrid setups. Disparity in deployment environments will necessitate more standardized setups. The rapidly evolving nature of cloud technology and commoditization of cloud infrastructure means developers will need to plan for change, taking advantage of strategies such as containerization.

To prepare, portable infrastructures and portable environments can be built so that they can be taken from developer laptop to on-premises, to public cloud with ease. As more container options come onto the market, and technology leaders endorse the strategy and technologies, even more developers will begin using containers to condense the test, QA [quality assurance], production lifecycle. 

- Aater Suleman, CEO at Flux7, a cloud consultancy service

2014 was all about Docker and containers. Now that containers are well-established as a good packaging format for application microservices, the development community will need to figure out how to build applications portably across various infrastructure choices.

There is now a seemingly ever-increasing range of choices and technologies for building applications:

1. Use VMs [virtual macines] vs. containers for deploying them.

2. Use public IaaS clouds such as AWS or GCE vs. private clouds such as Openstack.

3. Use VM-based orchestration technologies such as Amazon CloudFormations or OpenStack Heat; or container-based orchestration technologies such as Google Kubernetes and Docker Compose.

In 2015, cloud developers will need to watch for convergence in application orchestration technologies, or at least portability of specifications across multiple orchestration systems. Ultimately, the choices mentioned above are more similar than dissimilar, with the big difference being that there are different corporate interests behind them. Cloud developers would be best served to push for consolidation amidst these conceptually equivalent systems so that applications can be written once and run anywhere.

- Sirish Raghuram, co-founder and CEO of Platform9, a private cloud company

Militarization of malware

The number one issue they'll have to deal with in 2015 is the militarization of malware. Sony's troubles and the new Linux Turla Trojan showcased the movement of governments into the malware space. This has created a massive problem that every developer now needs to wrap their arms around, particularly in the cloud space, given the larger potential attack surface this space enjoys. Developers have to accept that every cloud offering is vulnerable to attacks at this level and increase the focus on rapid identification of unauthorized access and any unexpected behavior in and surrounding their efforts. 

Rapid and elegant failover of secure backup services and applications becomes an increasing requirement, as well as much tighter integration with SIEM types of security services and centralized automated patch delivery services become a far higher priority than … in the past. At the core of this is the realization that prevention, while important, is no longer a viable solution to the problem alone, it must be backed up with ever more robust identification and elimination activities. Or put more simply, they will be compromised, the focus moves to limiting the damage.

- Rob Enderle, owner of the Enderle Group, IT analyst firm

I think a lot of what is happening with security and hacker attacks today is going to finally convince most IT organizations that things are more secure in the professionally managed public clouds than on-premises. Public clouds may be the only way to keep corporate systems at the required level of IT hygiene to ward off intrusions.

- Al Hilwa, program director at IDC

Cloud platforms proliferate

2014 witnessed a huge amount of market movement with major challenges to market leader Amazon coming from diverse competitors, including IBM, Google and Microsoft. That's likely to ratchet-up in 2015, meaning that developers will have no shortage of cloud markets, platforms and customers to choose from. Also related to this is the apparent solidification of support around Cloud Foundry as a foundation for open PaaS deployments. That doesn't mean that individual efforts by companies like Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Red Hat and Salesforce are going away. But given the raft of vendors supporting the Cloud Foundry Foundation (Cisco, EMC, HP, IBM, Intel, Pivotal, Rackspace, VMware and many others) developers would be nuts not to pay attention to possible opportunities.

- Charles King, principal analyst and president of Pund-IT

Proliferation of development environments

One of the biggest challenges in 2015 will be the proliferation of development platforms in the cloud.  While this will provide organizations with much more choices, it will also be necessary for these organizations to understand their underlying needs and to identify the right platform going forward.

We are starting to see cloud-specific capabilities emerge. Organizations are no longer looking for just servers, storage or compute -- they are looking for specific cloud services that they can incorporate into their applications. This will add additional complexity into the application, so performance testing is critical not only for the application, but for the APIs in order to ensure they are robust enough to handle the load put on them by multiple applications.

- Peter Galvin, VP of marketing at SOASTA, a performance and load testing service provider

Vendors will shift strategy on enterprise apps

Changes in the enterprise apps marketplace will have significant implications for developer strategies, mainly because of what I'm seeing in the collaboration between IBM and Apple. The two companies launched the first wave of apps for their platform last week -- a dozen or so offerings focused on specific business processes for vertical industries. Consumer-facing developers probably won't pay much attention to this, but I think its evidence of a shift in the way vendors are thinking about and creating applications for enterprises. There should and probably will be ways for developers to enter, play in and profit from this space.

- Charles King, principal analyst and president of Pund-IT

The cloud will reach into everyday productivity tools; Hybrid cloud will gain momentum

Everyday tools that finance uses like Excel get a new lease on life, becoming connected to the cloud so that it's easy to refresh them with the latest data. CIOs also look to complement old on-premises financial applications with cloud apps, so that divisions, subsidiaries and new business initiatives are no longer held back by the slower pace of configuring legacy systems.

Enterprise architects and software developers need to think about how to weave the cloud into their existing enterprise applications framework. Hybrid cloud strategies are the bridge between where organizations are today and where they are going with their enterprise applications tomorrow. Enterprise architects need to understand where the unmet needs are from their "customers" in finance and other areas of the business, as well as closely examine the limitations of their existing on-premises systems -- and the economics and time around investing in them further.

Then, they should identify the cloud applications that complement the existing on-premises system. For example, many organizations are complementing their existing on-premises ERP with cloud budgeting, planning and analytics -- because the existing ERP systems provided functionality would take longer and [would require] more effort to deploy. Enterprise architects and software developers must also build a hybrid corporate performance management strategy to avoid fragmentation -- and ending up with a myriad of cloud tools. They should carefully evaluate suites that enable them to meet current and anticipated future needs without having to add additional point apps.

- Paul Turner, VP of product marketing at Adaptive Insights, a cloud corporate performance management service provider

CFOs and CIOs will successfully partner on analytics

Analytics consistently rank #1 on priority lists. Now cloud analytics tools have broken through into the mainstream – [allowing] CFOs and CIOs to finally break the logjam of traditionally slow moving analytics projects. Cloud analytics tools enable IT departments to move beyond the slow building on-premises data marts, as well as having to tune and optimize performance, and maintain these systems going forward. Often, while CFOs have been asking for analytics, enterprise architects have been challenged to deliver. CFOs' investment over IT has increased by 44% compared to a few years ago -- cloud analytics offer enterprise architects and software developers the opportunity to rapidly build dashboards and analyses, and deploy budgeting and planning apps at a fraction of the time to show increased value back to finance.

- Paul Turner, VP of product marketing at Adaptive Insights, a cloud corporate performance management service provider

Microservices will gain momentum

Modern application architectures are evolving from being single large monolithic apps to being compositions of dozens of microservices. Technologies like containers are further accelerating this movement. Application developers and network operations teams will increasingly need to provision, secure and manage at the granular level of each microservice. They need to rethink their infrastructure vendor choices to do so because this is a complex, expensive and error-prone task within traditional cloud infrastructure models.

- Umesh Mahajan, founder and CEO, Avi Networks, a virtual network services provider

With cloud infrastructures maturing and de-coupled architectures becoming more practical, enterprise architects will start building applications that are truly based on microservices and APIs. Enterprise architects will be able to truly functionally decompose applications into a set of collaborating services, with each service implementing a set of narrow, but related functions. This provides a truly decoupled and scalable cloud architecture, but also requires manageability of dependent services and their security, as well as high availability through quick and dynamic containerization of these services, which can be deployed and served from anywhere in the cloud. I believe this architecture will provide businesses the ability to rapidly spin up new capabilities, test them and scale them, all through a scalable, yet decoupled, architecture.

- Sachin Agarwal, VP of product marketing and strategy at SOA Software, a managed API services provider

Cloud portability will become more realistic

There's lots of movement around making applications easily portable between different public clouds, as well as physical infrastructure. If developers and the architects responsible for application delivery can deploy to any infrastructure, the infrastructure itself becomes a commodity. At that point, there's not much difference between running on public or private clouds besides cost. Developers and architects should focus on building agnostic workflows that can work with any technology underneath, rather than tying themselves to particular options.

- Kevin Fishner, director of sales and marketing at HashiCorp, a datacenter management service provider

IT organizations will push to eradicate shadow ops

In 2014, we saw DevOps culture expand its footprint into traditional enterprises. The needs of smaller teams practicing continuous delivery -- involving frequent, often daily releases -- ran up against the slower, traditional IT operations practices involving strict controls around change management, configuration management and release management. To circumvent these obstacles, enterprise DevOps teams used inexpensive cloud providers to build and deploy apps themselves, thus creating what is known as "shadow ops."

In 2015, we will see enterprise IT organizations push to eradicate shadow ops, corral these rogue apps and teams, and bring them into alignment with existing ITIL processes and corporate security policies. The drivers "from the left" will not relent, though, and enterprise IT organizations will be challenged to reap the business benefits of frequent releases within the framework of traditional ITIL processes.

Enterprise DevOps teams should plan to adopt corporate-standard monitoring tools and adapt their Agile and continuous delivery processes to conform with enterprise controls, all with a pace that works for both groups. Collaboration and communication will be the key.

- Assaf Resnick, CEO and Co-Founder of BigPanda, an incident management services provider

Enabling cloud technology is getting progressively easier, but without proper buy-in and a lack of goal alignment, it may still result in little to no ROI on a new cloud investment. The first step begins with a mindset change in IT leadership and results in getting active buy-in from business unit staff, while turning the IT staff into champions for the transformation.

Our guidance is to start small if you have not yet started. Cloud enables IT transformation but does not require you to start on a large project. The key is to assess business value and get started by addressing the low hanging fruit so you can demonstrate the benefit of the cloud transformation to your organization.

- Colin Lacey, VP, infrastructure and cloud solutions, Unisys

Consumption economics will impact every cloud provider

Companies are already developing their own software at a startling pace. Consequently, future vendors will need to construct more attractive payment options for their customers to take interest. Gone will be the need to buy expensive boxes to protect the data center as security will all be software-driven and based on usage. This will lead to the death of the 'up to XX' pricing standard. Enterprises will look to the cloud economic pay-for-what-you-use model for security solutions, which is a much more efficient use of resources. Consequently, enterprises' allocated security budget will shrink overtime.

- Tim Eades, CEO at vArmour, a cloud security firm

OpenStack dominates the private cloud market

 OpenStack has matured significantly throughout 2014, acquiring superior stability (with the Icehouse release) and adoption from mainstream enterprises and major/ traditional enterprise IT vendors. Competitors to OpenStack are becoming less and less relevant. We'll see continued momentum of OpenStack in 2015.

 Developers must be acutely aware that private cloud is gaining a lot of ground, and that OpenStack seems to be winning the private cloud market. Considering how flexible OpenStack is (with a lot of optional components, plenty of hardware drivers with different feature sets), developers must realize that 'a cloud' does not mean 'something that looks a lot like EC2' anymore. They must realize that a private cloud might be very different from a public cloud, not just in terms of API compatibility, but also in terms of what services are offered, in terms  of performance, in terms of typical failure scenarios they should recognize etc.

-  Sebastian Stadil, CEO of Scalr, an open source cloud management platform

Prepare for distributed mesh clouds

It is now possible to create SaaS applications like Salesforce-only JavaScript apps running in the browser. Servers, data centers, cloud, etc. then become useless. And since such kinds of application can be distributed using a "zero margin cost" model, it will surely eventually dominate over traditional cloud, just like Linux eventually dominated Windows NT after a decade. In 2015, we'll see a wider adoption of distributed mesh clouds. Enterprise architects need to understand distributed mesh architectures and developers need to learn JavaScript and WebRTC so they can move more applications to the browser side and reduce the need for back-end servers and cloud services.

- Jean-Paul Smets, founder of Nexedi, a cloud application provider


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