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Cloud predictions to watch for in 2016

Between major acquisitions and the rise of containers, the cloud market was bustling with activity in 2015. But what will 2016 bring?

This year has been full of ups and downs for the cloud computing market, and many wonder what the cloud predictions will be for 2016. Cloud vendors such as VMware and Google, for instance, joined forces in 2015, with the hopes of toppling public cloud king AWS. Dell's acquisition of EMC is poised to be the largest in tech history, as the two companies prepare to reposition themselves in the cloud market. Meanwhile, containers and open source technology were the talk of the cloud, with vendors flocking to OpenStack.

So, given all these changes in 2015, many wonder what's in store for the cloud market in 2016.

Each year, SearchCloudComputing asks experts to share their cloud predictions for the year ahead. This year, we asked two questions:

  1. What big changes do you expect in the cloud market in 2016?
  2. Which cloud technologies, or cloud vendors, will become less relevant in 2016?

Here's what experts predict is on tap for cloud in 2015.

Jim O'Reilly

Caught short by Google's Nearline archiving service, Amazon will likely launch a new storage service and cause cloud archiving prices to drop. The cloud vendor price wars, overall, will continue in 2016, but at a slower pace. AWS is now supporting Microsoft Active Directory, which was long the sole province of Azure. This will result in more migration to AWS, driven by attractive pricing, which in turn could lead to a features and price war between Azure and AWS. 

With few expansion areas, big data will be a target for cloud service providers, and especially Google, who understands big data challenges as a result of its search business.

Meanwhile, a broader migration to browser-based cloud and software as a service (SaaS) applications will occur, increasing business agility, aligning workflows with mobile devices and, incidentally, accelerating the demise of the desktop PC.

In addition, we will acknowledge that cloud security is good enough for enterprise prime time. This will prompt more organizations to move mission-critical operations into public clouds, though it will be a trickle at first.

In terms of technologies that could become less relevant, the price wars between the giant cloud providers will place IBM, VMware and Rackspace in a dilemma about continuing in the cloud. Expect one or more to drop out.

Also, containers increase virtual machine count by more than 3x in any given server, which will delay hardware purchases by the giant cloud providers, while existing gear is repurposed for containers. As a result, 2016 could be a painful year for original design manufacturers.

Paul Korzeniowski

One of my cloud predictions is that Shadow cloud purchases will dwindle in scope and impact in 2016. Business units will increasingly discover that they are not able to provide the service and management needed to support shadow IT applications. IT will also do a better job working with business units to deploy and support cloud systems. The end result will be greater IT input during enterprise cloud purchases, with security and management checks in place.

Cloud brokerages will continue to morph. They will focus less on acting as an intermediary to help companies select and find appropriately priced cloud services, and focus more on integrating different cloud services -- a task that will move up toward the top of the IT priority list.

Consolidation will also continue. The big vendors such as AWS, Microsoft, Google, IBM and Oracle will look to fill product line voids, and cloud startups will look to cash out.

David Linthicum

First, the focus will be on cloud management, security and governance. While everyone in the past was picking a cloud environment, they will now look at how to operate one effectively. Missing pieces such as cloud management and usage-based accounting will become more important. As a result, enterprises will focus more on third-party cloud offerings, as well as push providers to offer those features.   

Second, there will be the continued rise of containers. While containers themselves are not new, the ecosystems around them will continue to grow. Whole cloud systems will be designed around the use of containers, as well as allowing containers to scale. Container security and management will be a focus here as well.  

The big enterprise software players -- including Oracle, SAP, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and even some aspects of IBM -- will likely give up core cloud services, and focus on a more defensive strategy. Count on more large deals, such as the EMC and Dell deal, next year, as big software becomes a big white elephant sale. 

Besides the demise of the big software players from the world of cloud, we'll see older cloud providers find other niches or just go away through acquisition. 

Tom Nolle

First, this will be a year of changes in carrier cloud.  Some operators will exit or scale back their cloud offerings and others will expand them. It's likely that most expansions in carrier cloud will come outside the U.S., and there the carriers will become a force to be reckoned with in the cloud. In Europe, about half the carriers will expand their cloud investment and begin to work on software partnerships to allow them to host SaaS offerings.

Second, infrastructure as a service (IaaS) pricing will begin to stabilize as the major players like Amazon reach the point where their revenues and costs begin to converge. This will increase the interest in three specific cloud alternatives to IaaS. The first are platform as a service (PaaS) and SaaS, where Microsoft will continue to grow Azure, but will have to compete with Linux PaaS offerings from Amazon and Google, as well as smaller cloud players. In SaaS, we'll see more emphasis from IaaS providers on finding software partners to create their own, broad SaaS services.

Containers like Docker will become much more popular, targeting the low-priced end of the IaaS space, and Amazon and Google will both promote container-based services. Finally, all cloud providers will expand their offerings of cloud-enhancing web services. These services will move from database and workflow services into e-commerce and IoT.

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