So yes, 2014 was a big year for cloud. Now it’s time for some predictions for the year ahead. Based on gut instinct, here are my picks.
1: Cloud consolidation will continue
There are those who say that end-user thirst for cloud will mean enough business for everyone. I disagree — this is a scale game for the most part and with [company]Amazon[/company], [company]Google[/company] and [company]Microsoft[/company] sucking the air out of the room on public cloud, there will be room for some second-tier players but not for every cloud vendor on the horizon.
Last year’s consolidation — [company]Cisco[/company] buying MetaCloud, [company]Hewlett-Packard[/company] buying Eucalyptus, [company]EMC[/company] buying CloudScaling — was prelude to more M&A to come. Can CloudSigma, Digital Ocean, GoGrid, Joyent, Mirantis, ProfitBricks and a dozen other cloud vendors all flourish and prosper as standalone companies? Don’t bet on it, but some of them might be nifty pickups for bigger companies that need to bring their own cloud effort up to speed.
2: Legendary IT giants will keep slimming down
Some of the big legacy enterprise tech players will continue to, um, right-size themselves in the upcoming year. Not that they haven’t already done so; IBM, Microsoft, VMware, and Hewlett-Packard all laid off employees last year but don’t expect the cuts to stop now.
In particular, I would look for two of these companies — [company]IBM[/company] and [company]VMware[/company] — to pare more headcount early in the year. (Spokespeople from IBM and VMware declined to comment.)
3: Yes, there’ll be more price cuts. But feature wars will spike
Microsoft and Google both showed they were willing to meet Amazon Web Services price cuts — or even preempt them. That will likely continue but look for the big three public cloud entities to try to compete more on higher-end services going forward — they all want to attract enterprise accounts and enterprise accounts want service(s).
4: It’s all about security, silly
As has been reported endlessly, concern over the security of putting data in a cloud could be a huge gating factor to adoption. But once companies realize that just as it’s impossible to have a foolproof on-premises server room (or company-owned data center), and that there is no 100 percent guarantee that any given cloud is a fortress, they can get down to business. Once realistic expectations are set, as Gartner posited in its 2015 predictions, companies can focus on assessing risks and mitigating them in the smartest way.
With the growing realization that security must be approached in a multilayered way, with assessment and testing happening continuously, and with growing emphasis on proactively building better security into the applications themselves, we can all get on with our lives.