2016 cloud computing forecast: Private, hybrid, and automation

As we look forward to 2016, there is a lot to reflect on and forecast in cloud. Below you will find my top predictions for the year ahead.

RIP private cloud

The biggest missed story of 2015 has been the profound failure of the private cloud.

Just a few years ago, the private cloud was IT’s solution to remaining relevant to their business partners. I remember attending OpenStack Boston 2011 at the height of the private cloud movement, where everyone seemed convinced of the inevitability of the self-managed private cloud. But after years of incredible innovation in the public cloud and disarray in private cloud, 2016 will be the year that the private cloud as a primary strategy will finally go to its grave.

I expect some big shake ups in the private cloud, especially in the OpenStack community. Unless the private cloud substantially changes its pace of innovation, it will become a speed bump for enterprises on their way into the public cloud.

Google still doesn’t figure it out

If there was ever a company that should own the public cloud, it would be Google. They were building cutting-edge cloud infrastructure while the rest of us were still talking about our type 1 hypervisors. They even introduced the term “cloud computing” into our lexicon. I don’t know about you, but with the exception of a handful of mobile companies that built their businesses on AppEngine, I rarely run into a Google cloud customer.

While I believe Google has the vision, financial resources, and technical capacity to be a top cloud provider, I predict they will continue to lose more ground in 2016. To take liberty with the famous Wayne Gretzky quote, in the process to skating to where Google thinks the puck will be, companies like Amazon and Microsoft are busy putting the puck in the net.

Hybrid cloud hype unleashed

Recent industry news would make it hard not to predict 2016 to be the year of the hybrid cloud. But before doing this, let’s remind ourselves of the last year of the hybrid cloud: 2012. Back then industry experts were predicting the hybrid cloud to be the future of enterprise cloud computing, with the private cloud as the foundation and the public cloud used for bursting and new/unproven workloads. So with this historical reminder, I predict 2016 to be the year of the hybrid cloud hype, where products rebrand themselves as powering and/or enabling the hybrid cloud, and container hype reaches new heights. Expect legacy data centre and virtualisation products to attempt to breath new life into their ageing product lines with the term “hybrid cloud”, and existing public cloud vendors to reach into the data center to get a little of the hybrid shine. Ultimately, hybrid cloud is essentially the toll booth on the way to the public cloud.

End of shadow IT

Public cloud adoption in the enterprise was fuelled, to a large extent, by shadow IT - effectively “rogue” lines of business that worked around their slow-moving IT departments. With shadow IT, enterprises indirectly embraced an incredible amount of innovation in SaaS, cloud computing, mobile, and open source. This innovation has come at a risk to the business, since it typically worked around the IT business policies put in place to mitigate risks.

I predict 2016 to be the end of shadow IT. Two things have changed. IT has embraced and provided leadership in many of the disruptive changes they ignored over the last several years, and enterprises desperately need a lean and agile IT again to help propel their businesses through the current state of technology turmoil. The resurgence of enterprise IT will drive changes in product functionality and how vendors market, sell, price and deliver their services.

Cloud automation goes mainstream

We saw the emergence of business-level automation of the cloud with products from companies like VMTurbo and ourselves. This emerging market is being driven by what I call the “complexity gap”, where the complexity of the building and managing cloud infrastructure is outpacing the ability of management software and services to contain this complexity.

The future of the cloud will not be DevOps engineers writing low-level scripts to automate parts of our infrastructure. Instead it will be business-level automation, with enterprises inputting the policies by which they want their business systems managed and smart software executing these policies in support of the business. I predict 2016 to be the year business-level automation of the cloud goes mainstream.

Telecom makes big moves in the cloud

I think telecom companies will finally make big moves in the cloud...no, just kidding. Remember everyone predicting telecom providers would be the real winners in the cloud? Glad we can finally put this one to bed.

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