Cloud, circa 2017

Cloud, circa 2017

Summary: Within the next five years, there will be no 'cloud.' Just computing. Some will love it, others will fear it.


Imagine being at a business tech conference in 2017. Where will we be? What will speakers be saying about the whole cloud phenomenon of 2012? 

My ZDNet colleague Phil Wainewright just posted his predictions for cloud computing, as it will look five years from now, and I couldn't agree more with his predictions, listed below (a couple of my own predictions follow as well):

  1. Cloud is delivered on mobile, includes social: Business will get the cloud even more tha the tech folks,  and it will endure, "not as a technology buzzword but as a layman's term for connected automation," Phil says.
  2. Many businesses will thrive because of cloud: "Cloud, in its widest sense of being connected to a global network of on-demand resources, is transforming entire industries."
  3. Many businesses will falter because of cloud:  There's also a dark side, since the disruption cloud creates will put many established companies out of business.
  4. Government will impede the progress of cloud: Am interesting prediction by Phil: "Policy makers want to regulate the cloud — and that's when they see it as a force for good. When they discover the disruptive impact on those established industries that are past masters at political lobbying, it's all too easy to see how governments will be tempted to clip the wings of cloud. Many governments across the globe are already curtailing their citizens' access to cloud resources. As economic pressures intensify, this will get worse, not better."
  5. Cloud is neither public nor private: "The distinction between private and public cloud is illusory," Phil points out.
  6. Cloud is established, so less discussed by name. By 2017, there will be no 'cloud.' Just computing.  As Phil puts it: "As cloud becomes increasingly mainstream, it will be mentioned less and less, simply because it will become the default means of operating IT."

In addition to Phil's predictions, here are a few of my own:

  1. Cloud will facilitate the next startup boom: The economy is lackluster, but the availability of cheap, abundant cloud resources -- combined with an underemployed, frustrated professional workforce -- will drive countless new startups, many so small that they escape government statistics. Cloud is the heart of the "DIY economy," and provides opportunities to launch and fail at business like we've never experienced before.
  2. Technology and non-technology companies will be indistinguishable: Not only will non-tech enterprises (say, car parts manufacturers or business services) be consuming cloud services, but they will be both providing their own services out of their data centers, or brokering someone else's services to their customers. We'll all be tech companies in one form or another.
  3. Big Data will be cloud-borne: There is plenty of nervousness about data in the cloud, but this will subside as enterprises recognize that many providers have more rock-solid secrutiy practices than their own IT departments. Managing the flood of Big Data -- petabytes of unstructured or semi-structured data such as videos and documents and log data -- will increasingly be left to cloud providers with the scale.
  4. Cloud changes IT managers and professionals' jobs: If anything brings IT people close to the business, or into the inner circles of business, it will be cloud. IT people will be less "IT people" and more consultants who identify and contract for the technology resources that get jobs done.

(Thumbnail photo: Joe McKendrick.)


Topic: Cloud

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Predictions?

    While I agree with all of them, I don't see those as predictions. Every point listed is already happening now.
  • Agree, but not for the same reasons.

    "Within the next five years, there will be no 'cloud.' Just computing."

    I agree - but not for the same reasons.

    Frankly, the "cloud" has always been, is currently, and always will be, nothing but overused jargon.

    I'm interested in the best possible experience for people, not some idealized concept of a "cloud."

    "Cloud is neither public nor private"

    Well, it never existed to begin with - it's a marketing term, not a concrete concept.

    That being said, there are still use cases where it makes sense to have separated networks in cases of high security requirements. And with criminals getting eternally larger budgets and even nations getting into the act, the need for separate internal networks is increasing, rather than decreasing.

    "By 2017, there will be no 'cloud.'"

    So how about we get a jump start and stop using the term TODAY?

    "Big Data will be cloud-borne"

    Well, since there will supposedly be no "cloud," then there will be no big data, right? Why even bother if it's all going away?

    But that's not really what you meant. You likely meant to say that it will be integrated into the next big thing beyond the "cloud."

    Which I hope, for the sake of all that is good, uses a term that is a LOT less fuzzy and abstract than "cloud."
    • Cloud _is_ fuzzy, but very real

      I can fully appreciate that we have destroyed the meaning of cloud by bashing it about in every single situation we could find.

      It, however, does have some real meaning.

      Cloud is "OSSM" , meaning that Cloud Computing is:

      On-demand: Compute power or the application is already setup and ready to be deployed
      Self-service: customer chooses what they want, when they want it
      Scalable: customer can choose how much they want and ramp up if necessary
      Measurable: there’s metering/reporting so you know you are getting what you pay for

      These four attributes define the cloud - whether that is Software, Infrastructure, or Platform as a service.
      • One definition of many I've heard.

        That's one definition of many I've heard.

        The "On-demand," "Self-service," and "measurable" parts are new, but I've heard of "scalable" before in other definitions.

        Of course, "scalable" just means "we have have a lot of people using our stuff without breaking stuff." It's nothing special, and you don't have to be a "cloud" provider to be scalable.

        S2 is considered "cloud" but doesn't meet "On-demand" since it's merely storage and has nothing already set up. In fact, there's probably quite a few "cloud" products that don't meet this definition.

        And Google's stuff isn't always "measurable" (and doesn't really need to be so since it's mostly free), but still considered "cloud."

        So no, no real meaning. Everybody has created their own meanings. Keep dreaming.
  • Hype, Buzz, Growth

    The hype of our buzzword 'Cloud' allows for fast adoption and layman understanding. The massive explosion of the Cloud industry helps fuel interest in IT. The upcoming generations have been immersed in the Cloud since Jr. High with Facebook and Twitter, except these kids don't refer to it as Cloud. These consumers use the cloud and just call it computing, or mobile apps. Soon our buzz word will die and it will be synonymous with Computing but let's remember the glory days when a word started a industry revolution.
  • For me cloud is about Elasticity

    Elasticity in terms of technology and economics. It means many things to many people - but we all agree that offers a lot of advantages and creates many opportunities. And cloud is, as is already stated, very real. How to turn this into your advantage depends on you - it definitely works for us !