CloudTech’s outlook for 2014: Fast forward hybrid cloud

It’s that time again. As 2013 comes to a close, the landscape for 2014 grows ever nearer on the horizon. With a little help from some friends, CloudTech sums up the most compelling stories of 2013 alongside the biggest areas for growth over the coming year.

1) All about hybrid cloud

2013 was the year when hybrid cloud truly came of age, from theories to tangible business use cases.

Big companies practically fell over themselves to push this message through in research reports: Rackspace claimed back in August that hybrid was the future for three in five enterprises, whilst Gartner forecast that almost half of enterprises will be utilising hybrid cloud solutions by 2017.

And in an exclusive interview back in July, SAP VP cloud Sven Denecken told CloudTech that hybrid is “picking up speed” and added that for enterprises “it is the right mix of cloud solutions.”

With Microsoft asserting in May that the next two years were “the era of the hybrid cloud”, it’s hardly a surprise that industry experts see this trend continuing apace.

Len Padilla is VP product strategy at NTT Europe. He sees a clear trend towards hybrid for the majority of his customers.

“Public cloud offers cost and scale benefits, while private cloud provides security and control. Businesses need them both,” he explains. “The complexity of their IT estates is too great to plump for just one model.

“This best of both worlds approach will bring flexibility, agility and reduced cost to organisations in 2014,” he adds.

Jay Kidd, CTO of NetApp, agrees that the proposition for enterprise IT is too tempting to pass up.

“The tension within IT on moving to the cloud will resolve as organisations recognise that a hybrid cloud model is needed to serve their application portfolio,” Kidd explains, adding: “CIOs will sort their application portfolio into those they must control entirely, control partially, as well as workloads that are more transient, and those best purchased as SaaS.”

It’s certainly pervading into companies’ business strategies too, if Microsoft's recent announcement of its 25-strong Cloud OS Network is anything to go by.

2) PaaS’ rite of passage

The platform as a service (PaaS) market is modifying at a near explosive rate, as 2013 showed. According to Ovum’s Laurent Lachal, PaaS developed quickly in 2013 and will only continue to do so.

“As PaaS becomes increasingly modular and reaches out to third-party cloud services, PaaS service providers will also, at least partly, turn into PaaS service brokers, feeding the rise of cloud brokers, and gradually help developers to deal with APIs, not just applications, in turn feeding the rise of the API economy,” he wrote.

Lachal predicted that within two years, the majority of PaaS offerings will have a far more sophisticated ecosystem.

This demand and gap in the market is something Padilla also notes.

“Organisations in every global market are demanding that their cloud partners offer PaaS to create solutions, using their own tools, to make their customer journey unique,” he argues. “Organisations do not want to be saddled with R&D costs, instead they want to create and implement – and this is what PaaS promises.”

3) Hacking through the Amazon jungle

In terms of competitors to Amazon Web Services, 2013 promised so much. Yet the overriding sense is that the competition failed to deliver.

Go back to January this year, and Forrester’s James Patten claimed that Microsoft and Google will start to claw back the lead Amazon had in the platforms market.

Yet Synergy Research’s quarterly revenue analysis last month revealed that nothing has really changed in IaaS and PaaS:

The main competitors have put a lot of effort in, most of all IBM following its acquisition of SoftLayer – and in an exclusive interview back in October, SoftLayer EMEA general manager Jonathan Wisler explained to CloudTech IBM’s “belief in [SoftLayer’s] platform”.

Yet the figures don’t lie, even – somewhat erroneously – taking into account the figures of Salesforce.com, whose customer play Salesforce1 solidifies Marc Benioff’s SaaS dominance.

Mark Eisenberg, writing for TechTarget, sees it similarly, noting the fact that IBM is “finally in the game”.

“AWS has become the iPhone of the cloud space, and the Androids of cloud are in their early stages,” he wrote. “For 2014, the battle for second place will be where the action is.”

CloudTech couldn’t have put it any better. With AWS maintaining huge dominance in the IaaS space – and moving into VDI with Amazon WorkPlaces – as well as the increased enterprise focus on PaaS and hybrid cloud, these are the overriding trends which will dominate cloud computing in 2014.

But what’s your view?

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