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The Future of Cloud Computing

We poll leading on-demand infrastructure experts, IT industry execs and commentators on The Shape of the Cloud To Come

As new offerings like Amazon's CloudFront, Microsoft's Azure, Hosting.com's CloudNine and VMware's vCloud are rolled out week in, week out, the worldwide cloud computing momentum continues to grow.

Here, SYS-CON's Cloud Computing Journal surveys a globe-girdling network of leading infrastructure experts, IT industry executives and technology commentators for their views on The Shape of Cloud Computing To Come.

Contributors include Salesforce.com's Peter Coffee, Geve Perry of GigaSpaces, Ben Rushlo from Keynote Systems, Cloud Computing Journal editor-in-chief Alan Williamson, Enomaly founder Reuven Cohen, open source entrepreneur Krishnan Subramanian and Markus Klems of the FZI Research Center for Information Technology in Germany.

Director, Platform Research - Salesforce.com

Peter Coffee was Technology Editor for industry journals PC Week and eWEEK from 1989 through 2007, after spending the prior decade in project management at Exxon and in PC planning and AI applications research at The Aerospace Corporation. He is the author of "How to Program Java" and "Peter Coffee Teaches PCs"; he served as a member of the X3J13 standards committee for ANSI Common Lisp.

1. Developer communities and system integrators will defect, in growing numbers, from established enterprise software vendors that have failed to deliver real innovation and value during the past several years.

2. Lower costs of market entry / application deployment, faster payback on development costs, and superior return on investment will make cloud-based platforms the target of choice for both entrepreneurial and enterprise developers.

3. Improved understanding of process and governance risk will shift the preferences of IT owners and regulators away from the cost and inconsistency of on-premise IT, and toward the auditable and highly professional security practices of cloud-service providers.

4. Mainstream consumers will become more aggressive in lowering their cost of both personal and business computing, and will become far more accepting of lightweight client machines running free and open-source operating systems and applications -- including application-oriented Internet clients like Google's Chrome.

5. The generation raised on broadband connections, Google search and Facebook community membership will not fear to rely on Web-delivered applications and resources for both work and leisure.

6. Companies will redefine the "C" in "CRM" to mean "Community" rather than "Customer": they will build systems that engage their partners and customers in cooperative processes of product and service improvement, rather than building only inward-looking systems for in-house analysis of the world outside the company's wall.

7. Developers outside the U.S. and Europe -- specifically those in India, China and Brazil -- will find their most rapidly growing opportunities in their own home markets, and will shift their focus toward building high-value applications for compatriot companies rather than providing low-cost labor to mature markets overseas.

8. Software market cycles will rapidly accelerate to Web speed, with multiple releases per year, rather than the glacial pace of multi-year upgrade cycles that currently results in most IT sites running legacy versions of cumbersome bloatware.

9. Global growth in development demand will increase the importance of high-leverage application frameworks that enable more rapid development of higher-quality products.

10. Too many development teams will minimize short-term pain, rather than maximizing gain, and will find themselves made irrelevant by teams that kept pace with new opportunities.

GM of Cloud Computing, GigaSpaces

Geva Perry is General Manager of Cloud Computing at GigaSpaces, responsible for all marketing and business development activities at GigaSpaces, including strategy and positioning, product marketing, analyst/media relations and strategic alliances. Prior to joining GigaSpaces, he was COO at SeeRun, a developer of real-time business activity monitoring software. He has an MBA from Columbia Business School.

1. Trend of Large Vendors Entering Cloud Computing Will Accelerate

Amazon, Google, CA, Microsoft and IBM have all announced various initiatives in cloud computing. In 2009 this trend will accelerate with more coming from these vendors as well as VMWare, Citrix, Sun, HP, Cisco, Intuit, Symantec, Yahoo (if they remain independent) and others.

2. All Major IDEs Will Offer Cloud Deployment Options

Similar offerings to that of pioneering Aptana Cloud, as well as the announced but not yet available Visual Studio cloud offering, will be made by all major IDEs, with plug-ins for multiple cloud providers, including Amazon Web Services, GoGrid, Joyent, AppNexus, Flexiscale, Google App Engine and others.

3. Platform-as-a-Service Will Take Its First Steps into the Mainstream

In 2009, developers will start seeing web-based development and deployment platforms as a viable option for application development. Platforms such as Heroku, aimed at Ruby-on-Rails, will be in a particularly strong position to take advantage of this trend, but others as well. PaaS offering such as Force.com, Morph Labs, Bungee Connect the GigaSpaces Cloud Framework and others will mature and see initial adoption in the enterprise. Read more in the Thoughts on PaaS post.

4. A Next-Generation of “Middleware for the Cloud” Will Rise in Dominance Over Traditional J2EE Application Servers

Both start-ups and enterprises will come to realize in 2009 that the middleware products they have been using in dedicated physical server environments just don’t cut in the clouds. The promise of the cloud’s utility model (pay-per-use) cannot be taken advantage of without application platform that enable the application to both grow and shrink based on Service-Level Agreements (SLAs). Therefore, a new generation of application servers, such as GigaSpaces XAP and Appistry, will grow in popularity among the mainstream of cloud users.

5. System Administration & Configuration and Network Management Will Become a Sexy Field Bursting with Innovation

After years of stagnation, system administration, configuration and network management will thrive with innovation. New standards will emerge and people will come up with new forms of innovation in the field. Open source projects such as Puppet will experience incredible momentum. In a sense, for cloud computing to succeed, system administration needs to be eliminated. Or more accurately, automated and simplified, which creates tremendous potential.

Research Assistant, FZI Research Center for Information Technology

Markus Klems is a research assistant at Germany-based FZI Research Center for Information Technology. His main areas of interests are cloud computing, grids, distributed programming and agile Web development - the technological point of view as well as business models.

1. More SaaS

Cloud Computing will certainly fuel the SaaS business. More and more Desktop applications will turn into Services or at least hybrid online/offline apps that live in the Cloud. Developers can rely on Infrastructure-as-a-Service and Platform-as-a-Service, and concentrate on building more sophisticated and powerful network-centric applications.

2. Middleware in the Cloud

Scalable, on-demand middleware is an appealing vision for large enterprises: avoid bottlenecks by outsourcing parts of the middleware infrastructure into a SOA-Cloud.

Microsoft Azure is coming and Amazon provides Windows-enabled images; a playgroud for hordes of .NET developers. The departments of many mid-sized and even large enterprises run on MS Word and Excel. They can profit from a scalable Windows-Cloud, e.g. at the end of a fiscal year, when large amounts of accounting data need to be processed quickly.

3. Content Distribution and Media Hosting

Amazon’s new Web Service CloudFront points at the promising future for DIY Content Distribution and Media Hosting. We are probably going to see a lot of great Multimedia applications from innovative small cap companies in the near future.


Editor-in-Chief, Cloud Computing Journal

Alan Williamson is Editor-in-Chief of Cloud Computing Journal and is SYS-CON's "Cloud Computing Bootcamp" Instructor. A Sun Java Champion he is the creator of OpenBlueDragon (an open source Java CFML runtime engine).  With many books, articles and speaking engagements under his belt, Williamson likes to talk passionately about what can be done TODAY and not get caught up in the marketing hype of TOMORROW.

1. In terms of cloud infrastructure, 2009 will be the year when hosting your application in the likes Amazon EC2, AppNexnus, Flexiscale, GoGrid etc, will move out of the "early adopter" phase and into the main stream.  Architects will demand more accountability and stability.

2. Traditional hosting companies will feel the pinch, as the cloud providers will drive their prices further down to counter act the harsh reality that cloud-hosting at the moment, for 24hr operations, works out more expensive.

3. 2009 will not bring any unified standard or interfaces, but the community will have woken up for the need for this and efforts will really begin to shine through.

CEO, Parallels

Serguei Beloussov is Chairman and CEO at Parallels, a global leader in virtualization and automation software for consumers, businesses and service providers. He's a successful self-made entrepreneur and business executive with an outstanding 15-year track record in building, growing and leading high-performing, multi-national high tech companies in North America, Europe and Asia.

1. The vendor landscape will dramatically change as we see a significant increase in the opportunities available to providers of cloud-based services. This will impact all types of service providers: web and managed hosters; telcos and ISPs; independent software vendors offering their software as a service; online services companies; traditional systems integrators; value-added resellers that are becoming managed service providers, and cost-plus service providers. A full range of offerings must be available. These will largely run on Linux as it is much more prevalent in this space.

2. For the cloud model to be profitable, efficiency is key, so service providers need to automate as much of the full lifecycle as possible. Customers should be able to place orders and get fulfilment and basic support without human intervention, and all billing and usage accounting needs to be completed automatically. Delegating authority to the customer also plays a significant role in making this model work – the customer should be able to perform simple administrator tasks such as resetting passwords and ordering more disk space without needing costly support calls or input from service provider staff.

Founder & Chief Technologist, Enomaly

Reuven Cohen is is a thought leader in the emerging cloud computing industry. He's Founder & Chief Technologist for Toronto based Enomaly Inc. - leading developer of Cloud Computing products and solutions focused on enterprise businesses. Enomaly's products include the Enomalism elastic computing platform, an open source cloud platform that enables a scalable enterprise IT and local cloud infrastructure platform and its customers including Intel, Best Buy, France Telecom/Orange as well as many smaller organizations.

1. Cloud computing in 2009 will be all about the user experience. AKA Quality of a user experience as the basis for scaling & managing your infrastructure. The problem is this, a cloud vendor/provider may be living up to the terms of a contract's language, thus rating high in QoS (Quality of service), but, the actual users may be very unhappy because of a poor user experience, thus causing a low QoE.

2. In 2009 for the first time the cloud will enable us to not only scale based on superfical aspects such as load, but based on practical ones like: how fast does my application load for users in the UK?

Director Web Performance Consulting, Keynote Systems

Ben Rushlo is one of the world's leading Internet performance experts. He advises Fortune 500 and Fortune 1000 companies in the Retail, Automotive, and Financial Services industries, helping to transform their global sites into high- performing, highly available Web assets that provide excellent customer experiences every time. Before joining Keynote, he was a Senior Performance and Capacity Planning Engineer at American Express, where he served as a core member of the team that launched American Express on the Web.

1. The concept of a site as we know it will change

As cloud computing gains wider adoption, the concept of a site as we know it is changing significantly. With content, technology and infrastructure coming from multiple vendors in the "cloud", analyzing where the problem occurred and hence managing the end user experience will become extremely complex. Companies who attempt to apply a data centric view of the world (internal monitoring, system instrumentation) in this environment will not be successful.

2. Companies that do not change will struggle in 2009

Cloud computing requires a radically new way of thinking about technical quality. Each piece, each part must work together in harmony to satisfy the user. The user doesn't care where the content is being served, or what web service is involved, they care about it working well and working quickly. To meet their expectation a new system of user centric performance management will need to be in place. Data centric performance management is dying and will soon be dead. Companies that do not change will struggle in 2009.

Open Source Entrepreneur, Blogger

Seattle-based open source entrepreneur Krishnan Subramanian is an ex-physicist turned blogger with a deep philosophical connection to open source, open standards, open communications, etc. "Being an ex-physicist helps me use scientific approach towards life," Krish notes.

1. Enterprises will open up more towards Cloud Computing. This will be due to two reasons. One is the proliferation of the so called private clouds, cloud like architectures inside the firewall. The most important reason will be the confidence gained by the enterprises on the security of the clouds. The support services offered by companies like IBM will help enterprises trust cloud computing more than ever. Also, the release and evolution of products like VPN-Cubed from CohesiveFT and others will help enterprises get better control over their data, making them more and more comfortable with Cloud Computing.

2. On the SaaS side, we will see apps will mature adding more reliability for such services. We will see a stronger support towards Health 2.0 with Microsoft and Google leading the way. Any attempt by Obama administration to revamp healthcare will include a Health 2.0 strategy. Data Portability is going to be the most vocal demand from the consumers as they realize the risks associated with the data being locked into third party servers.

3. PaaS will see a surge with Google offering support to more scripting languages. We will also see an increasing push for .NET platform on the clouds by Microsoft. Developers are going to benefit the most from such a surge and it will also have a stronger impact on the SaaS side.

More Stories By Jeremy Geelan

Jeremy Geelan is Chairman & CEO of the 21st Century Internet Group, Inc. and an Executive Academy Member of the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences. Formerly he was President & COO at Cloud Expo, Inc. and Conference Chair of the worldwide Cloud Expo series. He appears regularly at conferences and trade shows, speaking to technology audiences across six continents. You can follow him on twitter: @jg21.

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