2012 Cloud Predictions – Winners & Losers

The year 2012 brought a significant amount of growth in enterprise use of cloud services but did it fulfill our expectations? With just five weeks left in the year, it’s time to reflect on our predictions for this market in 2012. Back in November 2011 we said that the cloud market was entering a period of rebellion, defiance, exploration, and growth, not unlike the awkward teenage years of a person’s life. The market certainly showed signs of teen-like behavior in 2012, but many of the changes we foresaw, it appears, will take several years to play out.

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Q: Which Apps Should I Move to the Cloud? A: Wrong Question

Out of all the inquiries I get from Forrester enterprise clients, the above question is by far the most common these days. However, the question shows that we have a lot to learn about true public cloud environments. 

I know I sound like a broken record when I say this, but public clouds are not traditional hosting environments, and thus you can't just put any app that can be virtualized into the cloud and expect the same performance and resiliency. Apps in the cloud need to adapt to the cloud - not the other way around (at least not today). This means you shouldn't be thinking about what applications you can migrate to the cloud. That isn't the path to lower costs and greater flexibility. Instead, you should be thinking about how your company can best leverage cloud platforms to enable new capabilities. Then create those new capabilities as enhancements to your existing applications.

This advice should sound familiar if you have been in the IT business for more than a decade. Back in 1999 we did the same thing. As the Web was emerging, we didn't pick up our UNIX applications and move them to the web. We instead built new web capabilities and put them in front of the legacy systems (green screen scrapers, anyone?). The new web apps were built in a new way - using the LAMP stack, scaling out, and being geographically dispersed through hosting providers and content delivery networks. We learned new programming architectures, languages, and techniques for availability and performance. Cloud platforms require the same kind of thinking.

Sure cloud platforms build off the web generation - we still scale out via load balancing, HTML and Javascript are key components, and app servers and databases play key roles - but what's different this time are two key factors that demand your attention:

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You’re Running Out Of Excuses To Not Try Microsoft Windows Azure

If you have dismissed Microsoft as a cloud platform player up to now, you might want to rethink that notion. With the latest release of Windows Azure here at Build, Microsoft’s premier developer shindig, this cloud service has become a serious contender for the top spot in cloud platforms. And all the old excuses that may have kept you away are quickly being eliminated.

In typical Microsoft fashion, the Redmond, Washington giant is attacking the cloud platform market with a competitive furor that can only be described as faster follower. In 2008, Microsoft quickly saw the disruptive change that Amazon Web Services (AWS) represented and accelerated its own lab project centered around delivering Windows as a cloud platform. Version 1.0 of Azure was decidedly different and immature and thus struggled to establish its place in the market. But with each iteration, Microsoft has expanded Azure’s applicability, appeal, and maturity. And the pace of change for Windows Azure has accelerated dramatically under the new leadership of Satya Nadella. He came over from the consumer Internet services side of Microsoft, where new features and capabilities are normally released every two weeks — not every two years, as had been the norm in the server and tools business prior to his arrival.

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The State Of The Cloud Market — SVForum

Curious about where we are in the development of the cloud computing market? Here is my opening keynote from the 2012 SV Forum in Santa Clara, CA.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yXtb2yBbCzo&feature=share&list=PLGl_aAgm1...

Oracle Continues to Make Cloud Progress

Well if you're going to make a dramatic about face from total dismissal of cloud computing, this is a relatively credible way to do it. Following up on its announcement of a serious cloud future at Oracle Open World 2011, the company delivered new cloud services with some credibility at this last week's show. It's a strategy with laser focus on selling to Oracle's own installed base and all guns aimed at Salesforce.com. While the promise from last year was a homegrown cloud strategy, most of this year's execution has been bought. The strategy is essentially to deliver enterprise-class applications and middleware any way you want it - on-premise, hosted and managed or true cloud. A quick look at where they are and how they got here:

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May Your Best Laid Plans Not Go To Waste Any Longer — Selling AWS Reserved Capacity Is A Killer Innovation

From the company that brought shelf space retail thinking and pork belly economics to the world of Internet hosting comes yet another mechanism from another market putting them even further ahead of the competition. Amazon Web Services' new Reserved Instance Marketplace takes the pain of poor guesswork out of cloud capacity planning. The financial side of cloud computing is continuing to get further and further from corporate enterprise IT economics, and this is a change you definitely should embrace.

I hate looking at my AT&T Wireless bill each month, because it tallies up all my unused rollover minutes. Sure, it might be nice to know I have them just in case I decide to have a marathon long-distance conversation, but realistically, it's a reminder that I am overspending on talk time. Even worse is when it reminds me of the expiration date for those minutes. They are basically throwing my inefficiencies in my face. Thanks, AT&T. :(

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Dear Help Desk: What's Safe To Do In The Cloud?

Wouldn't it be nice if your employees actually asked you this question before they went off and signed up for a cloud service or deployed a new app to a cloud platform? If they did ask, would you know what to tell them? Forrester's research shows that most enterprises wouldn't have a clear response or know where to point the employee for better guidance. Oops.

The answer to this question is actually pretty simple in concept but more difficult than you think in execution — you need a cloud use policy. What should be in this policy? What form should it take? What tone should it carry? Where do I start? All these questions are answered in my latest research report on writing an effective cloud policy. And some of its guidance may feel very counterintuitive. First of all, this will probably be a much softer and more malleable policy than others you have in your company. The cloud is still evolving, and thus your policy will need to do the same. What you might not allow today may be perfectly ok tomorrow. And unlike other IT policies, it's highly likely that IT isn't the most knowledgeable team about cloud within your company. Be prepared to work with the true leaders in crafting this policy — fail this and you shouldn't even try.

It's too late for your policy to say, "The use of cloud services is not allowed," so you need to start from an assumption that it is already happening — and that more of it is happening behind your back than in front of your nose. In fact, any policy that takes a draconianly negative tone probably won't go over very well (it might just be blatantly ignored).

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Gelsinger Brings The "H" Word To VMware

 

The long-rumored changing of the guard at VMware finally took place last week and with it came down a stubborn strategic stance that was a big client dis-satisfier. Out went the ex-Microsoft visionary who dreamed of delivering a new "cloud OS" that would replace Windows Server as the corporate standard and in came a pragmatic refocusing on infrastructure transformation that acknowledges the heterogeneous reality of today's data center. 
 
Paul Maritz will move into a technology strategy role at EMC where he can focus on how the greater EMC company can raise its relevance with developers. Clearly, EMC needs developer influence and application-level expertise, and from a stronger, full-portfolio perspective. Here, his experience can be more greatly applied -- and we expect Paul to shine in this role. However, I wouldn't look to see him re-emerge as CEO of a new spin out of these assets. At heart, Paul is more a natural technologist and it's not clear all these assets would move out as one anyway. 
 
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Are you opportunistic or strategic with your cloud investments?

Our latest survey on IT budgets and priorities shows that 35 percent of enterprises have a big focus on cloud computing (calling it a high or critical priority), but do we really know how best to apply that investment? 

We continue to see a large disconnect between what the business wants from cloud services and what the IT department wants to offer and support. The short story is the business wants public cloud services (or something very, very close to this value proposition) for delivering new services and capabilities to market. Yet IT wants to offer private cloud solutions that improve operational efficiency and drive down overall IT costs. IT doesn't have its head in the sand about business' demands, they just have to balance these desires against what IT is measured on - the cost and security of services provided. And frankly they don't trust the public cloud.

Knowing the psychology above, how best can an enterprise set a winning cloud strategy? if it invests purely against the business care-abouts it may win time to market but risks investing ahead of its ability to support and protect the business. If it invests against the IT priorities it risks alienating the business, increasing circumvention and being a laggard competitively. The answer lies in striking an appropriate balance between these conflicting priorities and choosing a strategy that encourages the most collaboration between business and IT and accelerating everyone's experience level with these new technologies. And that balance will be different for every firm based on their competitive market, regulatory environment and geography. But in general, most enterprises are being far more conservative than they should.

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Microsoft Moves to Level the Cloud Platform Playing Field

In typical Microsoft fashion, they don't catch a new trend right with the first iteration but they keep at it and eventually strike the right tone and in more cases than not, get good enough. And often good enough wins. That seems the be the pattern playing out with Windows Azure, its cloud platform.

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