Expectations for 2016 – a year of cloud challenges

I’ve been offering up cloud predictions for several years now, so I thought perhaps a quick look back would help me look forward to 2016.

Of course, these are my own opinions as I have no scientific evidence to prove my points. I also believe that the state of technology adoption depends heavily on where you are located.

Two years ago I noted:

  • Users and buyers are still learning — This is still true now. Although our awareness has increased, cloud computing is getting more complex. There is still confusion about what cloud computing is and is not. The Internet of Things and Blockchain are also adding to the confusion.
  • The technologies themselves are still maturing — This is also still true and will continue to be true for years to come. In fact, technology maturity may be an elusive dream! There is more talk these days about “disruptive innovation.” We’ve also seen Internet/cloud-based services such as Airbnb and Uber become household names.
  • Vendor competition is intensifying — There are lots of service providers competing for cloud market share. However, Amazon is firmly out in front of the pack for IaaS. Industry consolidation is likely, and some providers will disappear entirely.
  • The fragile economy is an “elephant in the room” — I believe this is still the case, at least here in Canada. We are heading into 2016 with real economic challenges that could slow the adoption of new technologies.

I called 2014 the year of “everything” (meaning both machines and people), but I believe I was rather ambitious. Internet of Things (IoT) concepts have developed rapidly over the past two years with connected cars, smart homes, industrial Internet, wearables, and more, but the transformation is just beginning.

For 2016, I have updated the topics I used previously to illustrate the move to “everything as a service”:

1.  Software-defined everything

Everything from the smallest IoT sensor to the largest cloud data centre is and will continue to be software-driven. Marc Andreesen’s 2011 statement that “software is eating the world” is increasingly valid.

Software development techniques will need to keep up with the proliferation of embedded software. Open source software and DevOps are increasingly important to the software business.

Some progress will be achieved in 2016, but there will be no shortage of opportunities to improve the speed and quality of software development, deployment and management.

2.  Service-oriented everything

Service-oriented systems will emerge as a trend in 2016. Containerization and microservices are examples of new technologies for cloud-based PaaS and for the integration of services.

In 2016, APIs (application programming interfaces) will play a larger role in cloud computing. Open APIs may become the preferred approach for IT, especially when open standards are adopted.

3.  Everything-to-everything communications

Machine-to-machine (M2M) communications could be the next wave of Internet development, with billions of endpoints connected. This should force a transition to IPv6 and automated provisioning.

The Internet of things (IoT) has become more popular over the last two years and has reached the peak of inflated expectations in the Gartner Hype Cycle.  In 2016, we can expect more indicators that IoT is moving into the trough of disillusionment – security concerns, capacity concerns, and lack of standards are examples.

IoT applications will increase demand for Internet capacity, APIs, and new application software in all areas.

4.  Personalization of everything

Personalization is just starting to really happen now.  Shaping IT to fit the user instead of vice versa is in its very early stages.

Personal wearables such as Apple’s iWatch are still in their first generation.  Although voice interfaces such as Siri are available, the use of artificial intelligence is just beginning.

Personalization of everything is unlikely to be a “done deal” in 2016, but the possibilities will be clearer.

The user interface is no longer restricted to a keyboard. Sensors, touch interfaces, voice controls, recognition systems, health monitors, and more, will become more common.  Systems that can correlate multiple sources of data into a uniform personalized interface will be developed.

Progress is being made in identity management, trust, personal assistants, artificial intelligence, and management automation, but there is much left to be accomplished. Incremental progress can be expected in 2016, but I do not expect disruptive innovations.

5.  Analysis of everything

According to estimates, the worldwide volume of business data doubles every 1.2 years.  The idea of “big data” has been with us for a while, but mainly focused on collecting, storing and processing of massive volumes of data.  The future emphasis will be on analysis and processing using big data technologies to extract customer information and trends.

It’s very easy to predict that data will multiply exponentially. Raw data will be collected from everywhere – people, systems, sensors, cars, streets, weather, banks, TV, microphones, cameras, instruments, and all types of machine.  The big concerns are how best to process the data, how much of it to retain, and how to make it more readily available.

In 2016, even more attention will be paid to protecting privacy and ownership (i.e., encrypt everything). Data has become a valuable resource at both personal and country levels.

6.  Computing/storage for everything

According to many surveys, cloud computing is gaining traction and has taken its place as a solution option for almost any workload. Technical viability is no longer an issue, but the viability of the service provider is certainly a major consideration.

In 2016, the largest providers (Amazon, Microsoft, Google, IBM and a few others) will continue to compete for customers, to expand to more locations, and to improve their operations and management efficiency. There is likely to be some consolidation among the specialized service providers.

Inter-cloud communications, application portability and orchestration will become more urgent requirements in 2016, as will tools for integrating and orchestrating various vendor’s cloud services. Cloud brokers and auditors will become more visible in the marketplace.

With more and more SaaS offerings and applications running on cloud services, enterprises face a proliferation of service providers. Rationalizing the number of service providers (and hence SLAs to manage) and reducing shadow IT will be challenges for 2016.

In 2016 we may also see personal clouds and smart homes that include packages of services ranging from telephony to virtual desktops to electronic money to on-demand education.

Most of my thoughts from last year will also apply in 2016 (indicating that I am perhaps too optimistic):

  1. Progress will continue to be rapid to the point where buyers can hardly keep up.
  2. A high rate of change will be the norm throughout 2016, especially for IoT/cloud combinations.
  3. More national, regional, municipal, and enterprise “cloud first” strategies will be adopted – although they may not be publicly announced anymore.
  4. Solutions involving multiple clouds will become more critical, including both hybrid clouds and multi-cloud options.
  5. Data centres will pop up in more and more locations in different countries. I believe this is happening already.
  6. Privacy including security and protection will continue to be stressful for cloud architects, operators and customers. There will be more breaches and outages in cloud data centres.
  7. Standards to provide an industry-wide basis for clouds will continue to be developed, although always too slowly for most people. Nothing will change here.
  8. We will see a lot more cars, wearables and automated homes connected to the Internet.
  9. There will be significant developments in all areas of the “-ilities.” This includes (but is not a complete list!): interoperability, portability, usability, accessibility, manageability, confidentiality, and credibility/reputation.

These are my thoughts. Do you see things through differently coloured glasses?

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada
Don Sheppard
Don Sheppardhttp://www.concon.com
I'm a IT management consultant. I began my career in railways and banks after which I took up the consulting challenge! I try to keep in touch with a lot of different I&IT topics but I'm usually working in areas that involve service management and procurement. I'm into developing ISO standards, current in the area of cloud computing (ISO JTC1/SC38). I'm also starting to get more interested in networking history, so I guess I'm starting to look backwards as well as forwards! My homepage is http://www.concon.com but I am found more here.

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