Cloud computing: 10 ways it will change by 2020

Cloud computing: 10 ways it will change by 2020

Summary: What are the issues, challenges and technologies that will frustrate and inspire those working on the cloud in 2020?


...bring super-fast interconnects into the datacentre.

Joseph Reger, chief technology officer of Fujitsu Technology Solutions, predicts that by 2020 we can expect communications in the datacentre to be "running at a speed in the low hundreds of gigabits per second".

Reger says he expects that there will be a "very rapid commodification" of high-end interconnect technologies, leading to a very cheap, very high-performance interconnect. This will let information be passed around datacentres at a greater rate than before, and at a lower cost, letting companies create larger applications that circulate more data through their hardware (known in the industry as 'chatty' apps), potentially allowing developers to build more intelligent, automated and complex programs.

7. Datacentres become ecosystems

Cloud datacentres will "become much like a breathing and living organism with different states", Reger says. The twinned technologies of abstracted software and commodified hardware should combine to make datacentres function much more like ecosystems, with an over-arching system ruling equipment via software, with hardware controlled from a single point, but growing and shrinking according to workloads.

Cloud datacentres will "become much like a breathing and living organism with different states". Image credit: Jack Clark/ZDNet

Automation of basic tasks, such as patching and updating equipment, will mean the datacentre "will become more like a biological system" he says, in the sense that changes and corrections are automatically made.

8. Clouds consolidate

The internet rewards scale, and with the huge capital costs associated with running clouds, it seems likely that there will be a degree of consolidation in the cloud provider market.

Fierce competition between a few large providers could be a good thing, as it would still drive each of them to experiment with radical technologies. For example, in a bid to cut its internal networking costs and boost utilisation, Google has recently moved its entire internal network to the software-defined networking OpenFlow standard, which looks set to shake up the industry as more people adopt it.

Manley of HP argues there will be a variety of clouds that will be suited to specific purposes. "There's going to be diversity," he says. "I think you would only end up with a monopoly if there was an infrastructure around that was sufficiently capable to meet all the non-functional [infrastructure requirements] of those end services."

9. The generational shift

By 2020, a new generation of CIOs will have come into companies, and they will have been raised in a cloudy as-a-service world. There will be an expectation that things are available "as-a-service", Merrill says: "Our consumption model is changing as a generational issue."

And this new generation may lead to a shake-up in how businesses bill themselves for IT, Merrill says. "We have these archaic, tax-based, accounting-based rules that are prohibiting innovation," he adds.

10. Clouds will stratify

Today clouds are differentiated by whether they provide infrastructure-as-a-service, platform-as-a-service or software-as-a-service capabilities, but by 2020 more specialised clouds will have emerged.

According to Forrester, we can expect things like 'middle virtualisation tools' and 'dynamic BPO services' to appear by 2020, along with a host of other inelegant acronyms. In other words, along with some large providers offering basic technologies like storage and compute, there will also be a broad ecosystem of more specific cloud providers, allowing companies to shift workloads to the cloud that would otherwise be dealt with by very specific (and typically very expensive) on-premise applications.

Merrill says clouds will, like any utility, be differentiated by their infrastructure capabilities into a whole new set of classes. "Just as we have power generation from coal, from natural gas, nuclear, hydroelectric, there will be differences," he says. "The economics, in my opinion, help us with differentiation and categorisation."

Topics: Cloud, Amazon, Emerging Tech, Google

Jack Clark

About Jack Clark

Currently a reporter for ZDNet UK, I previously worked as a technology researcher and reporter for a London-based news agency.

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  • Lemmings

    Like lemmings following each other over the cliff, the computer industry has done the same thing with open source and now cloud computing.

    The computer industry likes to reinvent itself when it runs out of money making ideas now it is Cloud computing. All that Clouding computing will lead to is a consolidation in the industry which will mean a less choice for the consumer, eventually higher prices and a monopoly.

    However it seems everybody has forgotten one thing, we will have all this technology in the data centre trying to serve everybody relying on ISP's infrastructure to deliver it all. If in the UK the BT (or Virgin cable) infrastructure fails nobody will have access to their cloud and everything stops.

    If our systems go down for 10mins there is an inquisition.

    If Cloud providers cannot deliver guaranteed service from the data centre to the desktop it will not succeed and once again the computer industry will have cost users time and money until the next money making idea.
    • Lemmings Yes and Big Brother

      Who is going to police the Coulds for data security? If Google and Facebook can and has read private data, what is going to stop that in 2020? The only "safe" data is on my computer.
      Major Could dowtime has already been experienced. India has had a major power outage. What of hackers? If the military ever goes Cloud, we are all at the mercy of hackers.
      Encryption of data sent to the Could is the only way senders will have any reasonable assurance data will not be read by someone. And even that will not equal keeping the data home.
      • Yes...

        ...I agree. And while I wouldn't go so far as to say there is a formal conspiracy to "gently nudge" the masses to a point at which everything they say, write, AND see, will be available to "someone" for inspection, certainly government(s) must be delighted at the prospect.

        But, the only safe data is on your PC? What makes you think it hasn't been transmitted somewhere (in background mode). Not to wax paranoid, but the recent saying of, "if it's on the Internet, then anyone can see it" holds true to the equipment connected to it--it's all part of the Internet. Is this sort of thing happening? Likely not (but if asked to bet my life on it, I sure would hesitate).
        • just unplug the cable...

          I dont see the need to connect any business PC to the internet - I'd put this in the top 10 IT dumbest things to ever consider.

          Why people are contemplating both exposing data to random providers and their operatives is beyond me. Never mind the fact you'll end up paying for the same software over and over again.

          Lemmings to the slaughter IMHO.

          Vertical integration and software integration means you pay more for less, enjoy the future.
    • Cloud = Public Cloud. Cloud = Private Cloud

      "Cloud" doesn't necessarily refer to a hosting environment far away (though that is the way the consumer sees it-- because they never had a datacenter to begin with!).

      "Cloud" is simply an architecture that allows for more elastic utilization of a heterogeneous network, compute, and storage resources.

      "Cloud" is simply the evolution of Virtual Machine technology (automated deployment, management, scale and contract instance counts).

      If you have an application that is internal, or contains highly sensitive information that you prefer not to host in a multi tenant environment and be at the mercy of someone else's service level agreement (SLA) and every single point of failure between them and you.... then don't.

      Public cloud resources make sense for publicly accessed applications. Private cloud resources make sense for privately held ones.

      This architecture is driven by two things. 1) The ever growing demand for rapid deployment and expansion of existing applications, and 2) The ever growing compute capacities of existing server platforms... I can get an E7 class server with 80 Cores (40+Hyperthreading), 1 TB of RAM, and multiple 10GbE interfaces for < $60K. Does it make sense to run a web server on that monster? Hell no. BUT-- I can run 30, 50, or even 100 servers inside that box. If I have an entire row of these beasts-- but my application sits idle from 6pm-6am-- my private cloud infrastructure can shut 90% of them down, and wake them up in the AM.

      Cloud is flexibility and simplification of the data center... not just Microsoft's and Amazon's... but yours and mine as well.
      • Cloud is high risk for the client and high profit for the provider

        Sure but who is dumb enough to put their business core data at risk to a 3rd party - may as well just hand over the keys to the business as absolutely everything will be at the mercy of a few key personnel who dont even work for you.

        For web servers fine if not critical, but for anything else you'd really have to be very stupid to even consider it.

        Cloud computing is the hard sell for the big boys to get mugs to rent software rather than buy it and cash in big time - I guess some people are thick but there is no way I would advise any client to go near.
        • Did you even read everything?

          "Sure but who is dumb enough to put their business core data at risk to a 3rd party" Ok.. but as JimJJ said, don't. Build your OWN INTERNAL cloud. People are automatically assuming that "Cloud" means external only. It doesn't. Do you run an intranet site in your company? Then that site is running on your internal internet (read Private Cloud).

          Please finish reading comments before responding. Don't skim, you're just making yourself look silly.
          • But at what cost?

            The overwhelming majority of companies are simply not big enough to have their own cloud - most don't even have dedicated IT teams!

            Many of those companies that have their own IT teams with the required skill sets and can afford to have their own cloud will see that the potential savings of using public ones is a good financial move, if perhaps not such a clever security one ... and we all know that money generally trumps everything else, especially if the sales person is persuasive or offers a big enough incentive.

            So in reality the only companies that will be running their own clouds are those that are either directly involved in the business or are so big that there are clear financial reasons to move to a cloud based one.

            I can see that the future will be one where the economies of scale that a public cloud provider enjoys will eventually create a cost differential that makes all but the biggest and most security conscious firms buckle to shareholder profit requirements.

            The future is not the cloud because it's a good idea, but because on financial grounds you wont be able to argue against it, and in the short term if your competitor is benefiting from the reduced costs of using a public cloud you'll most likely be out of business before any of the negatives of using one becomes apparent.
          • Did you even read everything?

            Thank you! Still too many misconceptions and not fully understanding the magnitude of capabilities possible with the cloud lead to many of the naysayers, probably still the older generation that we will be replaced by the new breed by 2020 mentioned in this article. There are many ways to benefit from the cloud and in a very secure environment, but you need to understand how you can achieve it instead of shutting it down. The cloud is inevitable, and whether you want to accept it or not, it will be what the future of IT will look like. Thanks IceQ.
      • Private Cloud

        That's right, you can built your own private cloud with your own set of security if your date is highly confidential

        It doesn't even even have to be complicated or expensive. Please take a look at ThinServer XP software which allows you to do just that
    • Going Down

      >If our systems go down for 10mins there is an inquisition
      The total downtime of millions of cloud servers at Amazon/Microsoft/Google is much less than your corporate data centre - if you think yours is more reliable, you are in denial.

      >...if infrastructure fails
      If the electricity grid fails, your data centre will fail. Your data centre will also fail for numerous other reasons which will not affect the massive cloud infrastructure.

      In general, you sound like you are trying to make excuses to keep things as they are.
      • Another way to look at it

        You may say that but again, if the infrastructure fails anything can fail. Basically it's the problem of "Cloud failing or downed affecting you and others using it" or "Your own data center fails affecting you". You put your stuff in your own data center and when it fails, it will only be your problem (hopefully). There are things that will affect your own data center but not the cloud. Vice versa. The point is, when the cloud really fails it became a bigger problem that in turns, probably causes you a bigger trouble than your data center failing. I think what he's saying is putting all eggs (data) in a basket (cloud) is not a good idea. The cloud is good but keeping your own data center while using the cloud is better. I'm no expert in this but I still worry what will happen when the cloud everyone's relying on fails. That will be a disaster, like an EMP on a country.
      • Huh?

        If the internet goes down, with our current setup we can continue to work and send stuff via mail, fedex, messenger, etc.

        With cloud computing, if the internet goes down, then we can't even access our data (or worse our software if it is cloud based).

        Add in to that the fact that so many ISPs are now limiting bandwidth, which cloud computing goes through faster than our office goes through water and you end up with a very expensive proposal.

        Not to mention, the cost of paying for software monthly instead of paying once every 2-3 years or so.

        As for if my data server is more reliable, well, we haven't had an outage in over a year of even our primary server, which has complete and automatic redundancy with backup hardware and software. If anything fails, another machine (either physical or virtual, depending on the need) takes over and I get a text message and email alert to fix the first one. Again, this has not happened yet, except when we forced it to do so to test it of course.

        In the last year there have been various cases of the cloud failing during our business hours, lasting for several hours, meaning we would have not been able to do any work had we depended on the cloud during that time. With most companies standing to loose $1,500 or more per hour that they are unable to be productive, the cloud is a bet that many cannot make.

        Another issue with the cloud is TOS and who owns the data, this is something that has to be taken care of before the cloud can ever be a viable tool for business.

        Now, the cloud does have it's place, for example, the cloud is a great place for backups (with a company that has a good TOS), but it is definitely not a good place for day to day business use for a large variety of reasons. For example we tried having a hosted exchange service; however, it was finally determined that the amount of email we receive on a daily basis does not work well with a hosted exchange server. We probably get about 100GB daily between all of our users.

        So, there are a variety of reasons that cloud computing cannot take off to the extent that this article would like us to believe it will.
      • Have you ever heard of backup power you fool?

        Our local data centers and sites are backed up by UPS and where necessary generators. Say good bye when a major power outage or rotating brownout happens without a generator, especially if using cloud computing. You have no control when the cloud fails.
    • Other opinion

      Cloud computing is and will continue to evolve, so I have no doubt in my mind that these security issues will be dealt with very soon. Besides, as every establishment has its counterpart in form of underground, I'm sure that in case mainstream cloud computing proves to be too big of a security risk, smart entrepreneurs will create conditions for more secure storage targeting customers who don't trust the mainstream media.
      Neebo Cumulonimbus
      • Rain Cloud

        Put you trust in a 3rd party, and live to regret it when it comes to your data.
    • Patriot Act

      The US Patriot Act means that any data on any American owned server ( regardless of where the server is located in the world) must be handed over to US Authorities, without informing the owner of the data, if requested. American owned cloud providers Google, MS, AWS etc would have no option but to comply with any such requests. I wouldn't use it for anything more than syncing my machines and storing family photos !
      Very Very Very Grumpy
  • The future seems cloudy

    Mostly cloudy
  • The Future of Cloud Computing

    The only thing that will change for Cloud Computing by 2020 is that there will be no such thing. The only thing that has kept it alive now is money and the thought of new technology. Good luck with your predictions...
  • Evolution

    @pjc158 don't you think you are being a little cynical? Cloud Computing is the era of computing that should have been how the IT world should have stayed with years ago during mainframes.

    The Cloud is a good thing as it protects people’s data and gives them greater versatility with it. If it were left to the user’s people will still be losing their lifetime’s collection of personal photos or their companies’ entire database!

    I agree there are some dangers with the world going this way. Hackers as an example only have one place to go rather than a million places, but I also take comfort in the fact that if I have chosen the right Cloud provider, my data is stored in a far better environment than I could ever afford in my office.

    At we are Cloud evangelists and we absolutely know that those people who aren't utilising the Cloud are the one's losing out. Like it or not, the Cloud revolution is upon us. It’s not a case of 'will it succeed', it's a case of how long will it be before everyone catches up!