Grading our 2013 Cloud Predictions

At this time 12 months ago, we released our predictions for what changes in the market would be brought about by the maturing of cloud computing. Looking back on the year, we can now see that, while the promise of a maturing market was strong, maturity was by no means uniform and thus our predictions proved to be a mixed bag.

1.     We’ll finally stop saying that everything is going cloud.
Grade: A. While the C-suite might still be preaching this as a long-term vision, we got real about what should and should not go to the cloud given its current maturity and capabilities. The guiding principles of architecture and economic model served as sufficient evidence that many traditional workloads have no business on the public cloud. And we started to see early signs of enterprises recognizing that the private cloud isn’t the new name for virtualization but is indeed a separate environment and not all apps in the data center are destined for this pool.

2.     Cloud and mobile will become one.

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CenturyLink May Finally Have Figured Out the Cloud

After a couple less-than-home-runs in the cloud game, it looks like CenturyLink might just have a real contender. The US midwestern telecommunications leader pulled the trigger on yet another acquisition this morning - Tier 3, a legitimate cloud platform provider. The real question is whether this is the latest in a long string of acquisitions that have failed to hit the mark, or a sign that they finally got it right.

CenturyLink is a Lego company built through a string of acquisitions all bolted together. It rolled up several telecom players to get to its current size and presence in that market. And it has bought now three cloud companies. 

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Cloud computing and highly secure data DO mix

Every client (especially every government client) who says I’ll never use cloud services with highly secure data needs to hear this story. In no more sensitive a place than law enforcement is just such a value proposition playing out.

Police departments in 18 states in the US, and soon Canada, are dramatically increasing the efficiency of commercial use of highways through a disruptive SaaS solution that costs a fraction of the incumbent service and mixes well with their permitting and inspection databases.

If you drive toll roads or bridges you know the value of Drivewyze. In rush hour, you can wait 10-25 minutes to pay your toll with cash or you can sign up for an electronic toll system that lets you breeze past. Drivewyze does the same for commercial trucks and fleets but not at toll booths but weigh stations, that take much longer to get through. And in the trucking business every minute lost at a weigh station can cost thousands of dollars in lost delivery time.  For law enforcement the value is even higher as any time lost inspecting a safe truck is time not spent stopping an unsafe one.

The system works by helping known-good drivers and trucks register with the weigh station wirelessly as they approach it on the highway, get an all-clear, then drive right by. Trucks send their credentials to the weigh stations using any mobile device they happen to have – iPhone, Android, Blackberry. Anything with a cellular connection will do the trick. At the weigh station, they receive the information about the driver over whatever equipment they have – aging PCs and laptops are most common. The system checks each driver and truck against long-standing databases of safety records, expired licenses, past weigh station checks and other information that would indicate an unsafe driving circumstance.

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Are cloud platforms saying goodbye to the hypervisor?

OpenStack, CloudStack, Dell, IBM SoftLayerand othersare pushing a new agenda in cloud computing, one that eschews the hypervisor. Is this the future of cloud platforms or just another feature?

So far the latter seems to be the prevailing trend as the majority of public cloud platforms and private cloud software solutions start with the foundation of server virtualization. The bare metal options are being positioned more for two purposes:

  • Auto-provisioning new nodes ofthe cloud - bare metal installation of the cloud solution and the hypervisor

  • New compute resource types inthe cloud - using new automation capabilities to add a complete physical server to a customer’s cloud tenancy, as if it were just another virtual machine.

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AT&T Turns Its Data Into an Adaptive Intelligence Business

There’s no doubt that, to consumer marketing professionals, data about the users of mobile network are highly valuable. But AT&T is finding that enterprise application designers, corporate security & risk professionals, corporate trainers and CFOs are very interested in this data as well - so much so that the US-based network operator is turning access to and collaboration on its data into a new business service.

Under the guidance of Laura Merling, VP of Ecosystem Development & Platform Services (and formerly of Mashery), AT&T Business Solutions is embarking on an ambitious plan for sharing its data in a secure programmatic fashion leveraging RESTful APIs.  It had previously shared it data in a more informal fashion with selected partners and customers but found this approach difficult to standardize and repeat on a larger scale. It also has participated in data collaboration efforts such as the well-known hackathon with American Airlines at South by Southwest earlier this year.

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Adobe proves that the cloud is good for IT Ops

Adobe Systems is a pioneer and fast mover in the public cloud and in so doing is showing that there is nothing for infrastructure & operations professionals (IT Ops) to fear about this move. Instead, as they put it, the cloud gives their systems administrators (sysadmins) super powers ala RoboCop.

RoboCop 2014This insight was provided by Fergus Hammond, a senior manager in Adobe Cloud Services, in an analyst webinar conducted by Amazon Web Services (AWS) last month.  Hammond (no relation to Forrester VP and principal analyst Jeffrey Hammond) said that Adobe was live on AWS in October 2011, just 8 months after its formal internal decision to use the public cloud platform for its Adobe Creative Cloud. Prior to this there were pockets of AWS experience across various product teams but no coordinated, formal effort as large or strategic as this.

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Where BI Falls Short: Taking A Singular Point Of View

There is a reason the phrase, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” has held significance and power in our society for so many generations. And in that phrase is a lesson for all of us about business analysis. The power of different points of view examining a given set of inputs is key to truly understanding what lies before us and seeing the new possibilities and different threats looming.

Sit silently in a museum listening to the patrons take in just a single painting and within a day you will hear a hundred different insights, many of which you didn’t see before. Insights that show you things in that artwork you never would have seen, such as the way greens and reds are mixed to create hues that don’t invoke their origins, the style of brushstrokes used that convey depth and how a pattern viewed up close can be very different than the whole. So much insight doesn’t stem from the painting but from the varied experiences, backgrounds, cultures and histories the observers bring with them. The same is true in data analysis. It’s through different points of view that something can be fully analyzed. Each person brings their varied experiences (their data) to the analysis.

As businesses we tend not to sit silently and take in what others see about ourselves and our data. We tend not to expose our data at all to our partners, trusted third parties or potential collaborators (like our customers) and by not doing so, they cannot combine their data with ours and uncover things we cannot see. As a result, we cannot see the broader picture. And this leads to bad business decisions based on a myopic point of view.

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You can learn from the clouds but you can’t compete

If you want to be the best in data center operations you are right to benchmark yourself against the cloud computing leaders – just don’t delude yourself into thinking you can match them.

In our latest research report, Rich Fichera and I updated a 2007 study that looked at what enterprise infrastructure leaders could learn from the best in the cloud and hosting market. We found that while they may have greater buying power, deeper IT R&D and huge security teams, many of their best practices apply to a standard enterprise data center – or at least part of it.

There are several key differences between you and the cloud leaders, many of which are detailed in the table below. Perhaps the starkest however is that for the clouds, they are the product. And that means they get budgetary priority and R&D attention that I&O leaders in the enterprise can only dream about.

Some key differences between Clouds, hosters and you


















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The Cost of PRISM Will Be Larger Than ITIF Projects

Earlier this month The Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF) published a prediction that the U.S. cloud computing industry stands to lose up to $35 billion by 2016 thanks to the National Security Agency (NSA) PRISM project, leaked to the media in June. We think this estimate is too low and could be as high as $180 billion or a 25% hit to overall IT service provider revenues in that same timeframe. That is, if you believe the assumption that government spying is more a concern than the business benefits of going cloud.

Having read through the thoughtful analysis by Daniel Castro at ITIF, we commend him and this think tank on their reasoning and cost estimates. However the analysis really limited the impact to the actions of non-US corporations. The high-end figure, assumes US-based cloud computing providers would lose 20% of the potential revenues available from the foreign market. However we believe there are two additional impacts that would further be felt from this revelation:

1. US customers would also bypass US cloud providers for their international and overseas business - costing these cloud providers up to 20% of this business as well.

2. Non-US cloud providers will lose as much as 20% of their available overseas and domestic opportunities due to other governments taking similar actions.

Let's examine these two cases in a bit more detail.

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Are Cloud Developers Really That Different? Yes.

To an IT leader a cloud developer can easily look like the enemy. They don't do what you say, they cause havoc by circumventing your IT rules and building new services and capabilities on public cloud platforms and seem to take orders not from you but from the business unit. Are these perceptions reality? Well, according to the 2013 Forrester ForrSights Developer Survey, yes. But they are also some of your most productive, happy and loyal developers too.

The survey shows that less than a quarter of all enterprise developers are using cloud platforms today. Examining the first movers, as self-identified in this survey, we found significant differences in the behavior, attitude and reporting structure of these members of your IT team. Cloud developers are risk takers who are empowered, more comfortable with open source technologies, building the new systems of engagement and tend to be happier in their work. They aren't just experimenting either; they are putting applications into production on the public cloud platforms and are doing so with traditional programming languages via agile, modern application designs. Forrester clients can now download a toolkit report providing a snapshot view of the data from this compelling survey (in Microsoft PowerPoint and PDF formats) that shows what distinguishes these developers from the pack.

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