4 predictions for the immediate future of cloud computing

Let these observations guide you through the next phase of cloud computing.

Predictions tend to be more of an end-of-the-year activity, but I took some time to write down a few ideas and their likely outcomes based on patterns in the market that we can currently see. Here are a few to consider.

There will be more market convergence around Google, AWS, and Microsoft. This is as easy to call as the sunset. Enterprises moving to public clouds are largely going with these three companies. Moreover, the big three are placing their technology bets in cloud computing right now, and this will continue for the foreseeable future.

Many thought this would be race of a dozen or so public cloud providers, but the market has taken care of most of them. Indeed, smaller cloud providers, such as Rackspace, could not keep up with the investment and have moved to a narrower and more niche-oriented focus.

Anybody who is not AWS, Google, and Microsoft will have to grab a smaller piece of the market and hold on for dear life. Count on a few to move to the managed services space, such as Rackspace, while others will provide a specific area of public cloud services, such as “bare metal” clouds. Still others will focus on specific verticals such as health care or finance.

Enterprises will become more aware of total cost of ownership, and this knowledge will slow or stop cloud adoption within some enterprises. The value drivers presented earlier in this report are well understood and have a few years of proof in many enterprises. However, we also know cloud computing may not be cost effective or a good fit. That’s typically not seen until after the first few projects have been deployed, when the cost and benefit issues are better understood.

We’ll see the continued fall of the private cloud-only implementation.Public clouds will be paired with private clouds to form hybrid or multiclouds, which provide enterprises with more cost efficiency and scalability. The number of enterprises employing only private clouds will fall substantially in the next few years.

New public cloud providers will have to quickly find a niche. The market is dominated by existing players who can spend billions on both R&D and marketing. Startups are leveraging new and emerging cloud technology, such as containers, as a path for incremental growth. We’ll likely see the same pattern around data analytics services, data storage services, Internet of things (IoT), and other more recent technology trends.

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Good news: Computer science graduates will be ready for the cloud

More and more colleges and universities are preparing students for a world beyond on-premises IT systems.

DePaul University is providing a cloud computing technologies program in its School of Computing and Digital Media. DePaul is not alone.

Most major universities provide some cloud computing-related courses, and students may even find that they do more work on the cloud than in traditional college computing labs.

Universities are taking two paths in adopting cloud computing in their curricula:

  • The first path lets professors integrate cloud-based technologies into traditional MIS and computer science programs, though not explicitly about the cloud.
  • The second path provides courses and even entire programs that focus on cloud computing — and nothing but the cloud, such as the program at DePaul.

I see a day when we’ll have hundreds of thousands of people in the IT workforce that have never done anything outside the cloud. That’s an exciting future.

Although the thought of never having to deal with an aging on-premises system at a college or university is scary to a traditional IT staffer, the ability to prepare students for life outside of college is the core mission of higher education.

Guess what? That future is the cloud.

Core cloud skills will mean big starting salaries for students who graduate college this spring. Those with Amazon Web Services, Google, or Microsoft cloud talent will command 20 to 30 percent higher salaries than those with more traditional skills.

That pay gap should only improve over the next several years. Indeed, the cloud skills shortage will be such a problem that I foresee cloud providers, consulting firms, and even traditional enterprises investing in colleges and universities to up their cloud teaching capabilities.

At the same time, students will look for universities that can give them the knowledge and skills they need to drive a career into a world where cloud computing is a larger part of the technology stack. Colleges and universities will adjust accordingly, perhaps more than they have around any other technology trend. DePaul is only one of the first to do so.

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