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As the year draws to a close, the cloud computing market continues to soar. A lot has happened in the cloud world in 2014 -- hysteria ensued as hackers wrought havoc on retail companies' IT systems and celebrities' iClouds. Rackspace saw its future hang in the balance, while HP split in two. Amazon Web Services continued to dominate the cloud space, but other providers -- such as Google and Microsoft -- tried to stake their claim for the top spot with new technology and pricing wars. Will the mighty AWS fall from its top spot in 2015? Each year, we ask our cloud computing experts some questions on the year ahead:
- What can we expect in the cloud computing market in 2015?
- Which cloud vendors will dominate and why?
Here's what they predict is on tap for the cloud computing market in 2015.
The [cloud] market will continue to gain acceptance and become a key element in delivering IT services. Companies need fast and flexible IT systems, and cloud offers significant advantages compared to traditional on-premises data center services. However, cloud will bring new challenges. IT will have trouble managing those systems because departments can easily [find a way] around system controls. Rogue cloud will continue to grow. Security will continue to be a key issue. Cloud vendors and corporations will struggle to keep pace with the rapidly changing threats. The growing interest in container-based computing will speed application development, but also create new security holes.
The large, well-established traditional IT vendors -- such as Microsoft, IBM, Oracle and SAP -- will continue to carry a lot of clout. As the market grows, these vendors will gobble up successful niche cloud vendors, round out their product lines and gain more market share. There will be more emphasis on connecting cloud services so companies can effectively manage their assets. Integration and consulting services will thrive and OpenStack will emerge as the leader in this space. Amazon Web Services will try to push further into the enterprise market and have some success. Google and Apple will be key players, but their services, which are more consumer-focused than corporate, will cause headaches for data center managers.
David S. Linthicum
While the cloud computing market will continue to grow, we'll also see new tools and approaches emerge to support application migration, as well as to make cloud migration more turnkey. This means tighter integration with DevOps technologies that support continuous integration, testing and deployment to allow cloud-based applications to quickly change for evolving business needs. These approaches will help more applications find their way to the cloud and increase the need for more cloud capacity.
AWS will continue to dominate the market in 2015, which is a no-brainer. However, Google and Microsoft's continued investment will significantly narrow the gap between those giant cloud providers and AWS -- perhaps by 10% to 20% by the end of the year. There will be greater enterprise acceptance that most cloud services will be complex, and use many models and brands of public and private clouds. Most enterprises will become like cloud service brokers, so IT can keep a close watch on which providers offer the most cost-efficient and resilient services, and which ones fall behind. This will ultimately change buying behaviors.
Cloud adoption will continue to pick up, but we'll see more of a shift to software as a service (SaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS) as cloud providers look to raise revenues. This will create a fork in the provider space. Some providers will look to become low-cost infrastructure as a service (IaaS) cloud vendors, such as telcos entering the cloud market. Others will offer higher-level services. Amazon Web Services will likely lead in the latter.
AWS will remain the cloud market leader with its greater economies of scale, but Microsoft will see significant gains in 2015 and finally get Azure on track. Generally, IT vendors such as Microsoft, HP, Oracle, IBM and telcos will move ahead of startups. Google is likely to move more toward SaaS. For all vendors, it becomes either a price war -- the winner being the biggest outfit with best economies of scale -- or a platform-service-feature war -- the winner being the most innovative software developer.
Overall, the cloud's growth rate will increase -- driven by confidence in the cloud approach, better tools, stability and completeness in the OpenStack family of modules, as well as more powerful, yet cheaper hardware. Legacy processing will speed up its transition to the cloud in the face of overwhelming operational cost arguments. The ability to build agile hybrid clouds will trickle down to the mid-tier and boost cloud adoption.
Big data processing and video editing will create expanding markets for large instances and specialized GPU clouds, such as NVIDIA. These will be positioned to handle spike loads in hybrid environments, but the ability to avoid high hardware acquisition costs and outdated equipment will make a strong case to move all the work to the specialty clouds.
Cloud price wars will continue well into 2015 and [will] force smaller competitors to niche markets, such as industry verticals. A bridge to non-cloud and legacy setups is an industry problem. And this may be a refuge for system vendors with large legacy bases. However, vendors such as IBM, HP, EMC, Cisco and Dell face critical mass issues for their cloud efforts. This likely will result in partnerships and joint ventures.
AWS will continue to dominate the market despite challenges from Google and Microsoft. Google is making an effort to replace Windows on the desktop with Chrome OS and Android on a mobile. This could give Google control of the standard app space and a lucrative software revenue stream, leaving AWS as king of the IaaS market, but not king of the millions of users. This battle is not likely to conclude in 2015, but we should know how Google's plan turned out.
Microsoft will continue to build its reputation as a viable alternative to Amazon Web Services and become more appealing to enterprise customers. Digital Ocean will grow its customer base by continuing to offer easy-to-use, high-performance VMs for developers. Digital Ocean will grow its base with the combination of low cost, ease of setup and the availability of SSD [solid-state drives]. For example, developers can install a LAMP stack with one-click on a SSD server that costs $0.06/hour for 4 GB with two cores. Digital Ocean minimizes server administration, while still giving access to IaaS-level services.
Amazon Web Services will continue to dominate. We will have to wait until the fall of 2015 for re:Invent to see what new innovative services are announced. AWS' Lambda announcement was the most important of 2014.
IBM will continue to build its cognitive computing platform and we will start to see more emphasis on software platforms, such as cognitive computing.
AWS, Microsoft and Google can compete on pricing and drive prices to zero. Other vendors will have to take IBM's approach and try to offer services at the higher end of the value chain.
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