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):
- 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.
- 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."
- 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.
- 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."
- Cloud is neither public nor private: "The distinction between private and public cloud is illusory," Phil points out.
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.)