Tracking the Cloud in 2013

OpenStack looks set to becoming the open source cloud platform. Meanwhile, Big Data will get bigger and disaster recovery will get decidedly cloudy.

There was plenty of talk in 2011, within the cloud computing circles, on how open source code would become the standard and how the future will be mobile. Well last year we officially launched our open cloud effort, built on OpenStack; and mobility now dominates day-to-day work and life. So those predictions, to some extent, have been fulfilled. However, as the cloud computing market embarks on another major shift in 2013 what can we look forward to this year?

For one thing, it looks like OpenStack will become the open source cloud platform. Meanwhile, Big Data will also be a huge topic of discussion, as will the massive explosion in the number of connected devices. With that in mind here are my cloud predictions (in no particular order) for 2013:

OpenStack innovation continues to grow

Last year was just the beginning for OpenStack. Today there are more than 6,000 contributing developers with 850 organisations participating in the initiative. The OpenStack community has grown to include marquee technology companies like EMC and VMware. And 2013 is where OpenStack will really hit its stride. In 2012 we launched our open cloud built on OpenStack and in 2013 the innovation around OpenStack will continue to rapidly expand. More companies and individuals will be involved in making OpenStack the true Linux of the cloud. OpenStack sparked a revolution in 2012, and that torch will be carried through 2013 as openness becomes one of the main tenets of cloud computing.

 Big Data gets bigger

This is the year when Big Data makes its way into enterprise conversations. Gartner predicts that Big Data will drive $232 billion in IT spending through 2016. Companies will begin looking for ways to leverage Big Data solutions to create business value and a competitive advantage. For example, more companies will implement Big Data solutions to help analyse website traffic and to gain a deeper understanding of their customer base by identifying key trends in online viewing and purchasing behaviours. As the interest in Big Data increases, so too will the realisation that these solutions are complicated and difficult to deploy. As a result, there will be a strong initial focus on finding ways to take the time and complexity out of Big Data implementations.

Internet Of Things

The PC used to be the centre of the universe. But now there are myriad devices and the PC is only one of many. In fact, now it’s becoming more of an Internet of things as opposed to an Internet of people. How many of our devices will have no screen and automatically do things on behalf of humans? The vast majority is my guess. These devices will include electric meters, sensors, surveillance cameras, cars, etc. Everything we have will be connected. The power meter in your home that’s connected to the smart grid will constantly stream and store data in the cloud. The camera with Wi-Fi that streams photos will be connected to the cloud via Wi-Fi or 4G. Everything will have a connection to cloud services, as the cloud is the backend that makes it all possible.

This Internet of things also means the cloud is more important than ever. The cloud provides the central hub for all of these devices, as well as context about the user that can be tapped into and shared to make the product or service better. The cloud is also where the analytical data from all of these “things” is processed and stored, which again speaks to how important Big Data solutions will be in the year ahead.

Disaster recovery gets cloudy

Whether it’s the catastrophic Tsunami in Japan, the devastating hurricane that hit the East Coast of the US, the earthquake in New Zealand, or the flooding and bushfire threats frequently hitting Australia, companies are being challenged to figure out how to maintain business operations in the midst of natural disasters. It’s happening more frequently and it’s a trend that will likely continue in the year ahead. The cloud will help these companies respond more quickly. The frictionless nature of moving workloads between clouds in the face of a disaster is huge, as it gives companies the flexibility they need to adapt. The cloud will be a key component of disaster recovery plans moving forward.

SSD comes to the Cloud

We started to see this trend evolve in late 2012, but in 2013 companies will use Solid State Drives (SSD) for their cloud storage needs at an increasing rate. SSDs will be embedded into more devices, laptops and data centres. While standard drives for storage will continue to be used, SSDs will offer a higher performance option that is fast, super low energy and contain no moving parts. As more SSDs are used, costs will come down and create a virtuous cycle. This cycle will kick off in 2013, as we will begin to see many more options for SSD in the cloud.

 Broader IT skill sets required

As the tech industry continues its shift towards cloud computing and companies continue to implement public, private and hybrid clouds at an increasing rate, the typical IT manager, system administrator and even the CIO will soon be forced to develop a much broader skill set. This trend will help create a new job market that is ripe for those who have a generalised skill set, including potentially a developer background – think DevOps — vs. deep experience within a single specialised area.

Mark Randall is the country manager Australia and New Zealand for Rackspace Hosting