Cloud Computing: 2011 Predictions

Looking ahead,'s Bernard Golden discusses ten developments he expects to see in cloud computing for service providers and enterprise users.

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Prediction #3: OpenStack will come into its own. The attractiveness of a complete open source cloud computing software stack will become clear, and interest and adoption worldwide of OpenStack will grow during the next year.

I'm generally pretty skeptical when large companies like RackSpace create open source projects, as they often smack of Tom Sawyer's fence painting episode, wherein Tom got a bunch of other kids to do a chore he didn't feel like executing himself (viz CA and Ingres). The right (and only) way to do something like this successfully is to launch and support an open source project, while (and this is crucial) building a community of participants who take part to fulfill their own objectives (viz IBM and Eclipse).

Thus far, Rackspace appears to be leaning toward the IBM model. The power of a community-based open source initiative can be seen in Linux, which does it brilliantly, and OpenStack could become an analogous project that provides a free and extensible cloud platform. For budding CSPs in emerging economies, an inexpensive platform is crucial, and OpenStack will prove to be an attractive option. For CSPs in developed economies, OpenStack can provide a path to high-quality software without taking on the entire burden of development.

Prediction #4: Cloud computing takes off in emerging economies. Much of the angst about what form of cloud computing end user organizations should use (see End User Predictions below) doesn't exist in emerging economies. Most companies have no significant installed base of infrastructure, so the urge to repurpose existing hardware (or, more realistically, avoid prematurely writing off undepreciated assets) is not relevant.

Consequently, IT organizations have no reason to avoid using public cloud computing; after all, the choice is between nothing and something, rather than an existing something and a new something.

A good analogy for what is going to occur with cloud computing in emerging economies is what happened with telephony. Most of these countries, as their economies developed, hopscotched right over fixed-line telephony, and moved directly to mobile as the primary form of telephony, based on its convenience, flexibility, and lower cost.

Likewise, we'll see a rush to cloud computing since it does not require significant end user investment in wasting assets. Don't be surprised if the growth rates of cloud computing in emerging economies far outstrips that in more developed nations.

Prediction #5: Continued rapid innovation by CSPs and SaaS companies. Many people point to the astonishing rapidity with which AWS continues to roll out new features and service offerings. Its launch this week of Route53, a robust and inexpensive DNS service, is just one example of the company's continued innovation. However, AWS is by no means alone regarding innovation and creativity. Next year we will continue to see amazing new offerings from companies that create services based upon cheap and scalable infrastructure. One I ran across this week is from Qik, which provides the ability to stream video from a mobile device. While that's interesting, my friend David Spark pointed out some additional features that make the service irresistible — when he starts streaming, his Twitter followers are alerted that he is streaming something, and they can react to his stream with questions or observations — which are displayed in his app so that he can respond in real-time. That's cool — and cloud.

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