Cloud has been around for couple of years now. Following the technology lifecycle, you would expect that we should now be entering the maturity lifecycle where we can expect to see less disruption and more consolidation in the market.
The reality shows that quite the contrary is happening, as we enter the land grabbing stage where everyone is competing for market share, and the incentive for major disruption is higher than ever before.
As a result of this, I expect during 2013 to see some major disruptions and shakeouts that will have a dramatic effect on the cloud world as we know it.
I've listed the main three below:
1. The IaaS Shakeout - So far, the IaaS world has been dominated by Amazon who is by far the leader in the market, where Rackspace its closest competitor comes in a far second. In 2013, we’re expecting to see Google entering the game, and Microsoft – who is not new to this game – to now finally start making the right moves, and with these is expected grab more market share from its existing customer base. The other big disruption is the open source coalition behind OpenStack which was lacking the maturity needed to present a true viable alternative. With Rackspace, HP GA-ing its OpenStack-based cloud offering, and IBM expected to follow suit as well, and with real production references such as Cisco’s Webex, I expect that we will now be seeing a far greater adoption of OpenStack, which to me currently looks like the main viable alternative to Amazon. The war on who rules the cloud is not going to be just a pricing war as some predict. One of the areas where there is huge potential for disruption is the network, as well as the software-based data center, which is a completely uncharted territory, with lots of potential for new innovation with how applications utilize the infrastructure.
2. The PaaS Shakeout - I've seen lots of predictions that talk about 2013 as the year of PaaS. They miss one major thing though. The definition of PaaS is undergoing a major disruption as well. PaaS was built initially to serve simple applications over the web. We’re now seeing a completely new category of PaaS coming mostly from open source initiatives, such as Cloud Foundry, which makes it possible to run PaaS in your local data center or even desktop. I'm also expecting us to see more convergence between PaaS and configuration management frameworks such as Chef, as in the case of Cloudify. If we follow Amazon, one can also note that the line between IaaS and PaaS is blurring, as Amazon has started to move up the stack. In addition to this, open source IaaS frameworks such as OpenStack and CloudStack make it possible to break down the wall between these two layers, and share a large part of the infrastructure between the IaaS and PaaS stack, blurring the boundaries between the two layers more than ever, as I pointed out in this post (PaaS as Infrastructure).
3. Big Data Shakeout - The Big Data world has primarily been dominated by Hadoop. The Hadoop project has since gone through major fragmentation with many different and incompatible versions of the Hadoop distribution such as the one coming from MapR, Horton Works, EMC, IBM, and more. This gives a rise to some of the NoSQL vendors such as DataStax, the company behind Cassandra, and 10Gen the company behind MongoDB to come out with their own alternatives in this space. In addition, the move to real time makes the use of Map/Reduce less popular than it used to be. Frameworks like Twitter’s Storm and other stream processing frameworks are gaining popularity. With all this going on, the future of Haddoop as we know it remains fairly uncertain IMO, and while the Big Data market is expected to grow quite substantially over the next coming years, it is still unclear which technology will be the one to drive this change. One thing that has becomes quite clear though, is that it doesn’t appear as if there is going to be one solution that covers them all, making the challenge of integration and management of the various framework more critical than before.
So all in all, I think that 2013 is going to hold a lot of surprises and disruptions, and we are still pretty far from the point where we’re going to see consolidation.