Predictions for IT priorities and the cloud in 2013: Experts weigh in

As more enterprises warmed up to cloud adoption in 2012, next year we'll see some more aggressive and decisive action.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor

Now that 2012 is all but over, let's discuss where enterprise technology and the IT agenda is headed next year. Certainly, the cloud and mobility are going to be major priorities.

But beyond just lofty theories, what can we expect specifically?

Along with checking out some predictions already circulating, I reached out to some more industry experts and executives about what some of the biggest priorities for IT will be next year.

Of course, this isn't a complete list as plans change and unexpected things happen, but here's a rundown (in no particular order):


Allwyn Sequeira, chief technology officer and vice president of cloud networking and security at VMware, wrote in a blog post that we should expect to see the shift towards software-defined datacenters accelerate in 2013.

"Networking and infrastructure security represent some of the stickiest issues when it comes to the drive to a more agile data center," Sequeira explained, "And because of this strong customer interest in SDDCs, you’ll also see more networking vendors and startups modify their roadmaps to steer towards a software-defined networking strategy."

Citrix told me that virtualization has already effected a change on the data center infrastructure, which is being magnified by cloud computing. Thus, the predicted result is that software networking will outpace physical networking.

Where a fairly static and stable decision tree was once the hallmark of a robust network, a dynamic network that constantly redefines traffic flows for individual users and VMs is the new requirement. The stage will be set in 2013 for SDN to become the dominant form of networking. The proliferation of routing stacks, load balancers, virtual switches and firewalls that support ever-changing traffic flows will be delivered in cloud orchestration systems, embedded deeper in hypervisors and even common operating systems.

Mobile Workforces

Kevin Gavin, chief marketing officer at ShoreTel, suggested that BYOD won't be the focus so much as something he referred to as "CYOD."

Gavin explained:

With stats indicating that employee-owned devices will be compromised by malware at more than double the rate of corporate-owned devices, it’s not surprising why some companies are resistant to the BYOD trend. With employees wanting certain devices, but IT departments holding on to control for dear life, 2013 will bring a year of compromise. The practice of giving employees the ability to “choose their own device” instead of “bring their own device” will increase; which will satisfy security issues concerning the IT department and the desire of choice for employees.

Technology research firm Gartner predicted in its 2013 special report that mobile can actually give back to businesses in more ways than we might expect, which might offset some of the naysayers worried about the infusion of mobility in the workplace.

Business intelligence and analytics leaders should understand the trends that will improve the pervasiveness of BI. Our 2013 predictions are that mobile will improve BI; multiple data sources in business dashboards will improve situational awareness; and implementations will be more service-centric.

As for the cloud, this might be the segment where we see the most dramatic changes in terms of action than ever before.

Gartner recently estimated that IT budgets will increase 3.8 percent next year, attributing a large part of that growth to cloud computing.

"2012 was the year that cloud adoption passed the point of no return for most businesses," said Michael Crandell, CEO of RightScale, via email. "In 2013, we'll see businesses focus on managing all their usage effectively across multiple cloud providers, and companies big and small will take a cloud-first approach to IT."

For more predictions about cloud computing in 2013, click on to page two >>

So here are a few cloud sub-trends, so to speak, that we should expect to see a lot more about in 2013:

Hybrid cloud models

Gavin declared that "hybrid is the future" for cloud computing.

"With the emergence of cloud-based UC, adoption of hybrid solutions encompassing a combination of cloud and premise will significantly increase," Gavin explained. "In the next few years, we’ll see additional applications, such as voicemail transcription and email-based fax services, available as cloud services. Vendors that that offer hybrid solutions in 2013 will be better positioned for growth."

Crandell posited that if enterprises are not already working toward a hybrid cloud solution, they will be by the end of 2013.

"This approach makes it easier for enterprises and startups alike to manage their infrastructure –- from geographical advantages (having clouds close to customers) to increased performance and better compliance capabilities," he added.


The cloud storage market -- both for consumers and the enterprise -- emerged as very competitive space in 2012, and that is sure to continue next year with Google Drive, Dropbox, Box and more.

But from an end-user standpoint in the enterprise world, VMware's chief technology officer Steve Herrod said in a blog post recently that he expects "to see even more customers virtualize their storage environment and move towards a more policy-based management approach."

The Red Hat storage team published their own predictions last week, also in accord with the potential for hybrid cloud models.

But the open source purveyors also defended that the philosophy at the backbone of Red Hat will also give way to new and "unified approach" for enterprise storage based on "community-driven innovation."

Community-driven innovation is the hallmark of a true open source approach to solving enterprise storage problems. For example, the emerging area of big data alone has more than 100 distinct open source ‘big data’ projects with thousands of software developers contributing code, enhancing features, and increasing stability. It is hard to match this pace of innovation when software is being written within a vendor’s four walls. We predict enterprises will gravitate toward the open source approach to solving real-world storage challenges. Projects including GlusterFS, ceph, Apache Hadoop, and MongoDB already see an uptick in community involvement and enterprise adoption. And, we anticipate this trend will continue unabated in 2013.

Big data

This is one that everyone loved to talk about in 2012, but it wasn't evident that everyone knew exactly what they were talking about.

Duke S. Skarda, chief technology officer at SoftLayer, a global cloud infrastructure platform provider, said that we should expect to see more solution-oriented delivery models when it comes to addressing big data concerns.

"In 2013, I believe we'll reach a point where enterprises and Internet companies will have a clearer view of how best to combine solutions to solve their real-world problems using the cloud ecosystem," Skarda said. "As cloud infrastructure and applications mature, users will seek more robust solutions that enable them to move from their own datacenters, more effectively manage big data and gain business agility."


Interestingly, social was one topic that didn't seem to come up as much -- at least when it comes to the enterprise. While it is inevitable that social technologies will advance considerably next year, perhaps they just won't be as buzzworthy as they were in 2012.

Nevertheless, Crandell remarked that "the public cloud will evolve as the de facto infrastructure for enterprises running mobile and social applications."

For more 2013 predictions and forecast coverage on ZDNet:

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