Technology Predictions of the Future

Cloud Computing Predictions

In 2010, we have seen a transformation of skeptics from their belief that cloud computing is suited mainly for small to mid-sized business, to a general acceptance that “the cloud” is everywhere. However, we have also seen a lot of inconsistency in how to differentiate cloud-based computing from on-premise computing. As a result, there has been confusion created in the market as software vendors like Microsoft promote their cloud offerings, and CIOs of large companies claim that their private cloud has been in place for years.

As I take a macro look at the industry today, it is clear that 2011 will continue a trend toward the convergence of the consumer and the enterprise web. Historically, the enterprise web has lagged the functionality and scalability of the consumer web because of several factors — the most significant of which are application complexity and the need for robust data security.  Today, the capabilities of the public cloud make the support of enterprise applications routine, and we see evidence of it being implemented every day.  With that said, there are changes in the ecosystem that will impact the speed to adoption among large enterprises.

What’s to Come for the Cloud

Cloud Computing Predictions

Large consultancies (e.g. Accenture, Deloitte) will continue to push private cloud and have minimal success with the public cloud

There is an almost religious debate brewing among cloud purists that recognize the difference between service-oriented architecture (SOA) and a true software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution.

Large organizations have been much more accepting of SOA-based solutions that reside entirely within their own firewall. This type of service has been branded as the private cloud and has gained a lot of traction among the Fortune 500.

Why are many in the Fortune 500 slow to adopt the public cloud? The answer has to do with risk tolerance. CIOs have taken notice of the cloud computing (e.g. SaaS, PaaS, IaaS) benefits, however, they have accountability for their actions and as much as they want to demonstrate that they have a cloud strategy, they are still concerned about allowing their data to reside outside of their firewall and relying on a service that is “out of their control.” The notion of the private cloud has been a nice entry point that allows them to answer to their boards, but they are still not realizing the real benefits of the public cloud. By definition, cloud-based systems are public; if you have a cloud in your own data center, check your servers because something is burning!

The big services organizations that serve the Fortune 500 will continue to push the private cloud because it serves the interests of their customers, but beyond 2011 we will see a shift as the market continues to evolve.

User demand for access to cloud-based content and applications whether on a PC, laptop, tablet or smart phone will grow

The ability to access applications through a browser is powerful in terms of maintenance and deployment. However, a side effect is that there is parity among these hardware devices as long as they support a browser that can run the applications. And in the end, the employee benefits by being able to choose the device that optimizes their experience.

The interesting note about this prediction is that hardware manufacturers will drive much of the change. The iPad, iPhone and Android devices have exploded in the market and are quickly capturing the attention of the business community. In my own experience, I have seen several companies buy pallets of these devices, and only then start asking questions about how they can re-architect their enterprise solutions in the cloud to optimize their use. It is truly a case where the intuition of IT groups and business decision makers tells them that these new devices are game-changing, and they are willing to figure out how they will benefit after they have made the purchase!

Adobe AIR will gain recognition as a leading cross platform mobile technology

We’ve seen the acceptance of AIR across many standard devices, and that continues today as Adobe has tipped their hand about additional OS support for Android and BlackBerry. The momentum around cloud services is not all about shared infrastructure, but also the ability for these systems to support a rich, flexible user experience that surpasses that of Windows-based solutions.

More recently, Adobe has stressed the importance of adoption on non-traditional devices such as televisions, smart phones and set top boxes. Adobe AIR (version 2.5) brings this cross-platform vision into your home. Now the only remaining battleground is the border war between Apple and Adobe. In 2011, the momentum of Adobe will require that we finally see the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel when it comes to the long-running conflicts between these two organizations…somehow.

By John Barnes

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