Monday, December 8, 2008

Cloud Computing Predictions for 2009

GoGrid's Michael Sheehan just published his cloud computing predictions for 2009.

1- Clouds reduce the effect of the recession.
The basic argument being that since cloud computing is a more cost effective means to obtain IT services, cloud computing enables the IT budget to go further. But that would simply take money away from the IHVs and big consultancies, so a more careful study would need to be made to assert if this is zero-sum game or not. My thought here would be that the recession may accelerate the adoption of cloud computing so that consumers of IT spent less, but it will hurt the IHVs.

2- Broader depth of clouds
This prediction is the simple progression of a new technology that is getting adopted. More customers are coming in and all have slightly different requirements that the cloud providers will cater to. It is easier to do that with specialized solutions and thus we'll see a broadening of the features offered in clouds.

3- VC, money & long term viability
This is an interesting prediction from Michael: cloud aggregators will be funded and the other players in the stack will get squeezed. Cloud aggregators are companies like RightScale and Cassatt and there is no doubt in my mind that they will do well since leveraging cloud computes is still hard work. I personally think that the VCs are not going to play in this space because of the presence of large incumbents like IBM, Amazon, Google, HP, and Sun. Personally, I think the real innovation investments will come from the emerging markets since they have the most to gain from lower IT costs.

4- Cloud providers become M&A targets
This item reads as a prediction that the consolidation in the cloud space will accelerate in 2009. My prediction is contrarian in the sense that I think we'll see more specialized clouds show up to cater to very specific nitches and thus we'll see a market segmentation first before we'll see a consolidation. For example, most clouds are web application centric, and putting up a web server is one feature that is widely supported. However, the financial industry has a broader need than just web servers, as do product organizations like Boeing and GE. I think there is a great opportunity to build specialized clouds for those customers as it can be piggy backed on supply chain integration so players like Tibco can come in. That is a very large market with very high value: much more interesting than a little $49/month hosted web server.

5- Hybrid solutions
On-premise and cloud solutions working together. That prediction is more of a looking back but it is a sign that cloud computing is accepted and companies are actively planning how to leverage this new IT capability in their day to day operation.

6- Web 3.0
More tightly integrated Web 2.0? It clearly is all about the business or entertainment value. I really like what I am seeing in the data mining space where knowledge integration is creating opportunities for small players with deep domain experts to make a lot of money. Simply take a look at marketing intelligence: the most innovative solutions come from tiny players. I think this innovation will drive cloud computing for the next couple of years since it completely levels the playing field between SMBs and large enterprise. This make domain expertise more valuable and the SMBs are much more nimble and can now monetize that skill. Very exciting!

7- Standards and interoperability
Customers will demand it, incumbent cloud providers will fight it. I can't see Google and IBM giving up their closed systems so the world will add another ETL layer to IT operations and spring to live some more consultants.

8- Staggered growth
A simple prediction that everything cloud will expand.

9- Technology advances at the cloud molecular level
This is an item dear to my heart: cloud optimized silicon. It is clear that a processor that works well in your iPhone will not be the right silicon for the cloud. There are many problems to be solved in cloud computing that only have a silicon answer, so we are seeing fantastic opportunities here. This innovation will be attenuated by the lack of liquidity in the western world but this provides amazing opportunities for the BRIC countries to develop centers of excellence that surpass the US. And 2009 will be the key year for this possible jump since the US market will be distracted trying to stay in cash till clarity improves. As they say, fortunes are made in recessions.

10- Larger Adoption
A good prediction to end with for a cloud computing audience: business will be good in 2009.

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