Last year, in my 2013 cloud predictions, I focused on Big Data and the rise of cloudy SSDs. And this year, those predictions became reality: in 2013 Rackspace launched new Performance Cloud Servers with SSD storage and businesses all over are enjoying the benefits of analyzing and getting true value out of critical data sets of all shapes and sizes. And it wasn’t just Rackspace; several other cloud providers followed suit with solid state storage-based offerings to keep up.
As I look forward to 2014, I see cloud computing continuing its growth and finding new ways to simplify just about everyone’s needs – consumers and businesses alike. But the cloud as we know it today will undergo a metamorphosis – open source projects will continue to flourish to solve niche business problems; and the nascent technology of containers will reap the benefit of open source’s speed of innovation. At the same time, IT departments will continue transforming but still be pressured to do more with less. And the cloud will power tiny devices from futuristic smart watches to almost-robotic computer glasses.
Here are my predictions for cloud computing in 2014:
The Cloud Ushers In a New Era In Wearable Technology
Under Armour’s late 2013 acquisition of mobile workout app MapMyFitness and Nike’s continued sponsorship of TechStars Nike+ Accelerator validates that wearable technology is heating up and here to stay. Athletic apparel manufacturers will attempt to catch up with one another in a war for data about users’ exercising habits. This will also continue in other areas such as smart watches, glasses and goggles, and medical devices. The staggering amount of data generated by the ever-increasing number of these wearable devices needs to be stored and analyzed somewhere, and what better place than the cloud, where it can be seamlessly transferred between device and server? This will also usher in other ecosystems of app developers and plugins as these devices emerge as platforms and APIs are exposed. The vendors that help users make the most of this data will be the winners and define the direction of the market.
Specialized Clouds Emerge
Until now, clouds generally fell into two buckets: public and private. In the New Year, the idea of workloads running where they perform the best will prevail and new clouds that focus on specific application tasks and workloads will rise. It’s the era of best-fit technology – developers no longer have to tailor their apps to the architecture, the architecture will adapt to suit the app. There will be a cloud for high I/O needs, CPU performance, GPU, etc.
Open Source Projects Become Even More Prevalent and Popular
As the world begins adjusting to new realities around online privacy, developers will gravitate more and more to open source projects where source code is immediately available for anyone who wishes to check on anything suspicious by inspecting the code directly. The NSA spying scandal and the lack of trust of foreign and some domestic technology will drive more and broader adoption of open source. With the added benefit that a community propels innovation faster, it’s hard not to feel good about the future of open source in this day and age.
IT Will Soon Mean Information Transformation
More and more enterprises will need to adopt tactics normally associated with startups (e.g.: DevOps, continuous integration and delivery, agile development) in order to handle the need to support ever-changing digital fields such as mobile application development, web analytics and social media. In this transformation, system administrators will need to brush up on their coding or get left behind with the legacy applications. Database admins will need to make the jump to Big Data and NoSQL. The enterprise CIO who realizes how to make DevOps and agile development work in their organization will lead the way. This will take root in 2014 and continue to grow over the next 5 to 10 years as applications are replaced.
Small Packages, Big Time-Savings
At OpenStack Summit Hong Kong, Docker and ZeroVM were two companies on everyone’s lips. They’re the big names in container technology. And in 2014, these and other early frontrunners will begin to simplify the way application deployment and portability works, allowing applications to be spun up and down at break-neck speeds. Containers will be used heavily in production starting in 2014 and beyond.
Those are just five of the many changes we can expect to see in the cloud in 2014.
John Engates is the CTO of Rackspace and joined the company in August 2000, just a year after the company was founded, as Vice President of Operations, managing the datacenter operations and customer-service teams. Most recently, John has played an active role in the evolution and evangelism of Rackspace’s cloud-computing strategy and cloud products.
John also speaks at technology conferences, including CA World, the Goldman Sachs Techtonics Conference and Cloud Expo, on the future of cloud computing, enterprise cloud adoption, data center efficiency, and green data center best practices.
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