As 2015 draws to a close, it’s time to look back at the extremely busy year for cloud computing. It’s safe to say that cloud computing has become the de facto infrastructure for the IT industry, as we are well into the massive cloud adoption trend. It was also a year of cloud competition as Google, Microsoft, and IBM all tried to cut into AWS’s dominance. 2015 also saw some of AWS’s fiercest competitors, such as HP and Rackspace, capitulate and cede the field to AWS.
We saw the rise of new app economies – virtual stores filled with specialized applications and tools that have made producing results easier than ever before. We also saw a continued evolution of technical architecture, which became simpler to use through containers, APIs, orchestration, and specialized services.
Interconnectivity reigns in this new information technology world. We see evidence of this in the connectivity between applications, Internet of Things (IoT) devices, portability of data, the rapid analysis of information, and data-enabled insights. Throughout 2015, the cloud has been a shining star – and it’s poised to shine even more brightly for the foreseeable future.
Here are some of the biggest stories in cloud technology from 2015.
Acceleration of IT Data Center Exodus
Not long ago, I remember the argument that described cloud computing as a fringe technology only targeted at developers. Today, it’s clear that the data center we once knew has been transformed forever. Reports indicate that up to 80 percent of businesses are considering using the cloud to some extent. I think that many people use the word “cloud” as a proxy for outsourcing IT or for hosting outside the confines of their data center. The continued trend away from the IT data center over the past year shows that the cloud continues to change the way that IT services are delivered to both consumers and enterprises. The impetus behind it all is the opportunity of data.
Companies have emerged around this opportunity, and 2015 was marked by many focusing on security in the cloud, like Area1 Security, LightCyber, and Illumio. Securing the cloud through encryption, segmentation, administrative roles, and hybrid technology are the new frontiers in enterprise security.
The Internet of Things Went Mainstream
IoT continued its march toward widespread adoption in 2015, going mainstream in very tangible ways for consumers. I love the fact that we are no longer just talking about IoT devices sending and processing data, but about IoT devices working with other IoT devices to create a new set of game-changing solutions.
Wearable devices from Apple, Samsung, and other major companies have made fitness trackers, medical vital information, biometrics, security, usage, and environmental information commonplace. The amount of data being generated by these devices continues to grow, and is increasing in an interconnected fashion to create new solutions all together.
You may recall stories from this past year about driverless cars and the systems being developed to support these futuristic goals. What many people may not realize is that John Deere, the company that produces agricultural equipment, has been a pioneer in the industry of self-driving vehicles for several years.
John Deere’s latest systems use advanced technologies that include unmanned aerial vehicles to collect data, feed this data to the agricultural combine, then help guide combines as they work in the field to harvest crops. The result is an interactive system of communications, data, and improvements driven by advanced tools and technologies, including the cloud.
Businesses have seen the benefits of interconnected data for years; evolutions in sensors, feedback, reporting, and connectivity have led to developments and improvements in automobiles, factories, and retail locations.
In the coming years, data opportunities will continue to emerge and mature. Driverless cars will be possible through IoT devices talking to other IoT devices in real time with no latency. Cloud provides an abstracted layer that makes this possible as sensors, information points, and devices continue to change and refine.
Containers gained a lot of momentum in 2015, and hence became more understood as an enabling, platform agnostic technology. This is great news for developers focused on building applications in a more consistent and portable way. Containers are fantastic tools that allow developers to break applications into distributed objects and place them on different virtual machines: on the cloud or bare metal infrastructure. But, like many new technologies, containers are being mischaracterized as “cloud-only” technology and, in some cases, are being referred to as the “future of the cloud”. Containers are, for the most part, hosting platform-agnostic. The cloud presents just one part of the picture; the true magic lies in the future of the platform and services that container technology unlocks.
2015 saw continued consolidation among major cloud providers, like AWS and its partner positioning in the market with Rackspace. Yet through all this commotion, if you can place your sights beyond the marketing and beyond the hype, you will see a market that the giants will never gain a foothold in. Continued customer-focused successes will soon be the narrative of the day; differentiating with product, service, and operational excellence will emerge as the winner in this cloud economy.
The Hybrid Conversation Gets Louder
Many industry conversations in 2015 concentrated on hybrid cloud technology, and for good reason. As providers have focused on working through adoption barriers, hybrid has resolved important issues. For example, some applications are so intrinsic to the enterprise and so important to revenue and the bottom line that they can never truly leave the four walls they exist in. This is where hybrid enters the fold. Thanks to the isolation and control enabled by hybrid infrastructure, the perception of risks surrounding cloud became a thing of the past this year.
The hybrid cloud enables a shift toward an interconnected world where clouds beget apps, apps beget data, and data begets clouds. Many in the industry may not realize they are already living (in some way) within the cloud. Hybrid technology is the glue and the official platform that puts it all together; companies that move toward a hybrid platform will enjoy the best environment today and in the future.
Wrap-Up: A Renewed Focus on Service
As 2015 fades away, the year ahead is even brighter. The demand for hybrid cloud platforms and solutions for big data hosting are strong trends will continue into 2016. On the flipside, as cloud becomes a more monopolistic and commoditized landscape, customer service is going to be the differentiator in the cloud market for the foreseeable future.
Looking to the future? Here are my cloud predictions for 2016!