5 things to expect from the cloud in 2015

2014 saw big changes in the cloud. In 2015, we’ll see more cloud growth – and challenges – than ever.

In 2014, we saw a lot of things happen with the cloud. OpenStack became the dominant open-source cloud, and Ubuntu became the top operating system on clouds.

Some cloud news was amazing. Microsoft, of all companies, proclaimed its love for Linux. Why? Because 20% of the operating systems on Azure are Linux. If you can’t fight them, join them!

And then there was the news no one saw coming. I mean, in 2014, how many people really knew anything about containers? Then along came Docker and everyone from the usual open-source suspects to Microsoft to VMware was on board.

So, what will 2015 bring us? Well let me dust off my crystal ball and here’s what I see.

1) Docker gets even hotter

I’m not quite sure when this will happen, I just know it will. Everyone’s done the math on containers vs. virtual machines, and if you can get double the application servers running on the hardware, who’s going to say no to that? No one, that’s who.

But it won’t be all smooth sailing for Docker. CoreOS, for one, has decided that Docker is trying to do too many things with containers and they’re forging their own container path with Rocket. They may be the first, but they won’t be the last to try forking away from Docker.

2) There will be fewer cloud companies

Maybe no one’s going to knock Amazon Web Services off the top of the public cloud pyramid, but Microsoft Azure and Google Compute Engine will make it interesting. In the private and hybrid cloud sectors I expect to see a lot of consolidation.

In 2013, we saw HP buy Eucalyptus, Cisco pick up MetaCloud, and EMC snatch up CloudScaping. I fully expect to see at least some of the small, mid-tier companies – Digital Ocean, GoGrid, Joyent, Mirantis, or ProfitBrick – to be picked up by larger businesses in mergers and acquisitions. I also won’t be surprised to see Rackspace picked up by a major player.

3) And fewer cloud technologies as well

Is the world really big enough for OpenStack and CloudStack? Azure and vCloud? I don’t think so. I fully expect some cloud projects to be dropped as the year goes on. It may not make headlines, but don’t be surprised if a vendor starts de-emphasizing one cloud technology in favor of another.

I also expect the long-term winner to be open-source technologies with OpenStack as the ultimate winner. There are just too many technologies out there all trying to do the same thing and OpenStack has by far the largest number of IT companies backing it.

4) Cloud prices will continue to go down

Customers demand it, and the vendors and service providers are delivering the inexpensive goods. Besides, with container technology, the rise of ARM as a server architecture, and DevOps cloud management tools, the cloud companies can afford it.

At the same time, cloud companies will seek to differentiate themselves from one another by adding new features. This will be messy though, because it’s going to become harder and harder for customers to compare the differences among platform-as-a-service (PaaS) offerings, and that’s already more than complicated enough.

5) Security and network problems will become acute

Don’t ask me who, but some cloud provider this year is going to have a major security breach. We’re pushing this technology as fast as we can to the public, and while vendors have been addressing security issues I don’t think they’ve been doing a good enough job.

Someone is going to have a major failure. The one good thing about this is that everyone else will have to back their talk with the walk of really improving security.

At the same time, the Internet is starting to crumble under the strain of both the rise of Internet video and all the cloud services we’ve all been turning to in the last few years. The combination of security concerns and potential Internet brownouts will result in a drag on cloud adoption.

This won’t be enough to stop the rise of the cloud, though. Cloud technologies just make too much dollar-and-cents sense for businesses to turn away from them.

So, in the end, I see clouds becoming stronger than ever in business, but which companies and technologies will rise to the top? That remains as much of a question as ever. I don’t see any single one becoming what Microsoft was in the day of the PC or IBM in the time of the mainframe.

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