9 Cloud Trends For 2015 - InformationWeek

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Cloud // Software as a Service
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Charles Babcock
Charles Babcock
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9 Cloud Trends For 2015

In 2015, expect to see the cloud mature as a platform for hybrid operations, with cloud data centers achieving new efficiencies through containers.

the size of the public-facing site or the amount of traffic that uses it. Amazon remains the number-one public-facing site overall.

What's Digital Ocean's secret? Advanced technical infrastructure, heavily based on solid state disk-equipped servers and simple services delivered at high speed. A current customer can spin up a cloud workload in 55 seconds or less; a new customer can get their first virtual server running at the same rate or less. One open source KVM server, termed a "droplet," costs less than a penny per hour, or $5 per month, to run.

While it lacks the load balancing, cluster management, and other advanced services of Amazon, DigitalOcean's service nevertheless maintains a strong appeal to developers. DigitalOcean's footsteps are being followed by other developer-oriented services, including Atlantic.net, Linode, OVH.net and Exponential-e (in Europe), and Hot Drupal, among others. The trend: Get started with a lightweight, fast cloud service. As your company grows larger, move up to the big boys.

5. Clouds will spawn enterprise risk investments.
This prediction is based on a discussion with Allan Leinwand, the architect of Zynga's initial use of Amazon services and the Zynga private Z Cloud. Now VP and CTO of cloud platform at San Francisco-based service desk SaaS provider ServiceNow, Leinwand sees CIOs using both public and private cloud services to give business teams a chance to either succeed or fail quickly. "In the past, the CIO got you the servers, desktops, and printers you needed," he noted. "Now they're providing the services that can drive the business forward."

In effect, he says, cloud service providers are enabling CIOs to act more like series A investors. They invest small amounts in high-risk business teams that might find the next big thing -- or they might fail quickly and minimize the loss.

6. Software-defined security will protect workloads.
Software-defined security will become part of the software-defined data center and accompany workloads into the cloud. If we can define the network, the storage system, and containers and virtual machines on host servers in software, then we can also define the security that must accompany them with software systems. Guarding the data center perimeter is a hardware-based, if not fortress-based, concept. Security needs to follow with the software asset.

In the software-defined data center, software mapping systems identify system perimeters and feed intelligence into a central monitoring system. That mapping capability must be extended to define the permissions and activities allowed to the software system, with a surveillance agent ensuring that it adheres to only those activities. Any exceptions must trigger an inspection and potential intervention.

Figuring out what happened after several million user identities and credit card numbers have been offloaded to Russia is not security. Building security that can accompany the movements of a system, regardless of where it's about to be run, is an extension of the logical mobility that came into the data center with the first virtual machines.

7. Custom chips for cloud partners will take hold.
At Re:Invent, Amazon CTO Werner Vogels announced that Intel has designed a chip exclusively for Amazon, for use in cloud servers in partnership with Amazon. The chip, he said, will become the heart of Amazon's future cloud hosts.

This comes on the heels of Google's expressed interest in IBM's OpenPower Consortium, in which the specifications for the Power chip are shared with a group of companies. Members such as Google can then work with IBM to design a custom version that can be used to launch the third generation of warehouse-scale computing, Gordon MacKean, chairman of the OpenPower Initiative and chief of Google's platform engineering group, explained at a press conference in San Francisco last April. "We're ready to start innovating," he added.

OpenPower follows Facebook's project to create a cloud server specification through the Open Compute Project. At the Open Compute conference last January in San Jose, Andrew Feldman, corporate VP of AMD, said, "By 2019, ARM will command 25% of the server market." He also predicted that energy-sipping ARM CPUs in the form of purpose-designed chips "will be the norm for mega-datacenters," such as those used by Facebook, Microsoft and Google. For that to happen, more 64-bit (rather than 32-bit) ARM chips are needed. AMD produced Seattle, its first 64-bit ARM, in January. Feldman also acknowledged that the ecosystem of software developers for ARM "is in its gangly youth" compared to the mature x86 software market.

John Engates, CTO at Rackspace, observed in a recent blog post that in addition to low energy use, ARM in the past has been accompanied by "low performance and a fragmented software ecosystem. That changed this year. 2014 saw big news around ... Cavium bringing out a server-grade ARM platform (ARMv8 Data Center and Cloud processors). 2015 will be the year that alternative silicon really begins to rise. Watch this space."

8. The public cloud will go hybrid.
It's not enough for a cloud provider to simply connect their data centers to the Internet -- they need multiple private-line carriers to bring enterprise data into the facility in a secure and compliant way. Equinix has been Amazon's preferred hub connecting its users to a private line, with a typical Equinix facility joining 50 to 60 private carriers. A few months ago, Amazon added Verizon and AT&T data centers as well. IBM's SoftLayer unit built out a private line network when fiber was cheap, and Google and the fast-growing Exponential-e in the UK followed suit. Access to private-line service can also be accomplished through a third party, such as Digital Realty Trust's Global Cloud Marketplace or an Equinix-like provider found in secondary markets, such as Cologix facilities in Minneapolis, Dallas and Jacksonville, Fla. With private-line access readily available, hybrid is the new normal for public cloud operations.

9. IoT meets big data.
Intel launched its Internet of Things Platform on Dec. 10 to help manage the connectivity and security of proliferating sensors and devices. The value of the secure and connected devices, however, will only increase in 2015 as the Internet of Things meets big data. As data streams into Hadoop and other big-data repositories, groups like the Industrial Internet Consortium, in which Intel, IBM, GE and Cisco are members, can collect information from large manufacturing operations and facilities and discover ways to reduce energy consumption, save time, and shave costs off manufacturing lines. Managing large buildings and individual homes will likewise benefit from analysis of data collected from local networks. It's been primarily an abstraction so far, but the Internet of Things will become real in 2015.

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Charles Babcock is an editor-at-large for InformationWeek and author of Management Strategies for the Cloud Revolution, a McGraw-Hill book. He is the former editor-in-chief of Digital News, former software editor of Computerworld and former technology editor of Interactive ... View Full Bio
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User Rank: Author
12/29/2014 | 9:44:08 AM
Continuous Delivery - enterprise style
Purists hate when anyone puts a qualifier on these trends -- "enterprise" devops, agile, continuous delivery. But the reality of highly regulated, high-availability businesses is that they'll only embrace these trends if they fit the corporate compliance needs. So while I agree with the sentiment that continuous delivery will be more in demand, and that companies will move this direction, I suspect it will be a more conservative version than what the likes of Netflix deploys.     
David F. Carr
David F. Carr,
User Rank: Author
12/29/2014 | 2:24:42 PM
Re: Continuous Delivery - enterprise style
Could be continuous delivery of bugs if you're not careful.
User Rank: Ninja
1/2/2015 | 9:13:40 PM
Re: Continuous Delivery - enterprise style
@David F. Carr, good point, remind me of my youth days as QA/Software tester... never ending process of errors...
User Rank: Ninja
2/3/2015 | 11:27:54 AM
Re: Continuous Delivery - enterprise style
@ChrisMurphy, interesting point as example Netflix in Canada changing the whole field and CRTC fighting it :) 
Keith Craig
Keith Craig,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/29/2014 | 11:09:03 AM
The teeming second tier
The appeal that light-weight, speedy, small cloud hosts hold for individual or small-group developers will continue unabated in 2015.

While enterprise-to-cloud surged in 2014 (notwithstanding security concerns), many small market cloud-hosts experienced a steep upslope of new customers and revenue, as well.

The might of AWS, Google and Microsoft should act as a high tide that will raise all cloud-hosting boats. With that said, because the market is so diverse and global, and because pockets of that market remain avowed against the big hitters,  smaller cloud-hosts will continue to carve out market share.

Charles' acknowledged trend of developers starting on a smaller host and then migrating to one of the "Biggies" will gain momentum; however, it's been Linode's experience that by offering steady, reliable, powerful servers and responsive customer service, by launching products that take advantage of emerging cloud innovation, and by re-investing capital into infrastructure, smaller cloud hosts can and will continue to gain a share of the market.

The market - and pundit predictions - give us no reason to believe otherwise in 2015.
User Rank: Ninja
2/3/2015 | 11:29:11 AM
Re: The teeming second tier
@Keith Craig I think we gonna see some big changes in 2015... but time will tell...
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