With that in mind, here's my set of 2014 cloud computing predictions. As in the past, I present the list broken into two sections: Five end-user predictions and five vendor/cloud provider prognostications. I do this because too many predictions focus on the vendor side of things. From my perspective, the effect of cloud computing on users is just as important and worthy of attention.
1. More Businesses Will Become Software Companies
A couple of years ago, Mark Andreessen proclaimed that " software is eating the world." Next year, this will become profoundly obvious. Simply put, every product or service is getting wrapped in IT, and all these applications will find their home in the cloud.
To provide one personal example, my doctor suggested at my annual physical that I begin tracking my blood pressure. The solution to sending him the results? Instead of tracking the numbers in a spreadsheet and forwarding it via email, he recommended a blood pressure monitor that connects to a smartphone app, automatically sends the results to his firm and communicates to an application that downloads the numbers into my medical record.
The net effect of the ongoing shift to IT-wrapped products and services is that global IT spend will increase significantly as IT shifts from back-office support to frontline value delivery. The scale of IT will outstrip on-premises capacity and result in massive adoption of cloud computing.
2. Application Developers Will Become More Important
If applications are becoming more central to business offerings, then those who create the applications become more important. The analyst firm RedMonk refers to this trend as "the developer as kingmaker," since developers are now crucial in business offering design and implementation. There's an enormous upwell of change in development practices, driven by the ongoing shift to open source and the adoption of agile and continuous delivery processes. This improves the productivity and creativity of developers, and it leads developers to release more interesting and important applications.
It's no secret that developers drove much of the early growth of cloud computing, frustrated by the poor responsiveness of central IT and attracted by the immediate availability of resources from cloud providers. That early adoption cemented developer expectations that access to cloud resources should be easy and quick, which will result in much more cloud adoption by increasingly important developers.
It will be interesting to watch mainstream companies address the new importance of developers. Many have traditionally downplayed the importance of IT and treated it as a cost center to be squeezed — or, via outsourcing, eliminated entirely. When these companies start to ramp up their app development efforts, they will confront an expensive resource pool with plenty of job options. They may choose to outsource these applications to specialized agencies and integrators whose high prices can be paid without upsetting the general pay structure within the company.
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