This has been a curious year for cloud computing. The technology has moved into mainstream consciousness, but many vendors remain frustrated with the pace of enterprise adoption. While widespread agreement about the importance of cloud computing is present, many vendors see enterprises pursuing internal cloud implementation projects with a slow pace. As you can imagine, vendors are impatient with this pace-but not as frustrated as early-stage investors in those vendors.
Notwithstanding, I expect 2013 to be an inflection point for cloud computing, although not in the way many IT organizations or vendors do. You can expect that cloud computing trends of 2012 will become more vivid in 2013 and will prove disconcerting to incumbents, no matter which side of the vendor/buyer table they sit on. Cloud computing will prove more disruptive to the established order of things than almost anyone anticipates, and it will prove to be extremely uncomfortable for many.
Here are five things to look for in 2013.
1. The Phrase 'Enterprise Cloud' Goes From Market Prediction to Drinking Game
This year, I've heard vendors make countless number of confident predictions about the importance of the "enterprise cloud"-once enterprises realize that their old trusted vendors have bright shiny cloud products in stock, they'll start buying like mad.
The sotto voce in this is the belief, or hope or wish, anyway, that presenting customers with an "enterprise" offering will then curtail their dalliance with Amazon Web Services. It's like a spurned spouse waiting for the lure of home cooking to bring their wandering partner back home.
This will be a put-up-or-shut-up year for the attractive powers of enterprise cloud computing. December 2013 will find many incumbent vendors standing in the doorway, listening anxiously for the footsteps of wayward customers. By the end of the year, people will recognize that just repeating the phrase "enterprise cloud" is insufficient as a vendor strategy.
It's critical to understand that differentiation exists in the mind of the buyer, not the mind of the seller. Cloud service providers will need to understand the motivations of buyers and will also need to understand that many cloud buyers are different from traditional enterprise buyers-they may work in enterprises, but they don't have the same needs or goals as their counterparts. Proffering a product with the traditional functionality, language and selling approach to this new type of buyer is pointless.
In 2013, I expect "enterprise cloud" to be a meme that moves from a market segment description to a drinking-game meme. Every time you hear it, you have to take a sip of your beer.
2. Enterprises Realize That Cloud Computing Means, Well, Cloud Computing
One big realization on the part of enterprise IT groups this year has been that business unit adoption of public cloud computing isn't going to go away. Many, however, continue to implement internal clouds that are little more than warmed-over virtualization, with the expectation that once the internal offering is available, it will become the default choice of developers.
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