Cloud computing has the market momentum and growth trajectory that encourages many industry participants to engage in the annual predictions game. But the new paradigm for software development, delivery and consumption driving cloud computing is above all brisk and adaptive — or Agile, if you prefer — but annual predictions have a Waterfall-method feel to them. So it seems better to talk in terms of the important iterative adaptations that are having the most significant impact on cloud computing in the near term. Here are the top six from my point of view:
1. SaaS. Large ISVs are in an adaptive race to both build and buy SaaS capability. In this race, the course of 2013 will show increasing gaps between executing leaders and confused or denying followers. This race is the single most important determinant of the future value of the 100 largest ISV providers. The leaders will not simply make more SaaS acquisitions. They will also create hybrid solutions for current install bases. They will deliver new SaaS offerings in the SMB market by refactoring current on-premises technology. And they will adapt channel, sales and marketing models to the economics of the SaaS business.
2. DevOps. Cloud computing is changing the skill set and composition requirements of technical teams. Designing and developing software is now the front end for the long-run challenge: service delivery management and continuous application enhancement. Development operations (DevOps) are one of the critical disciplines for the new technical team. The skill set of a DevOps tech lead includes systems programming, build management, configurations management, service monitoring, security, backup, recovery and more. Over time, the technical team composition for a large SaaS deployment will trend towards an equal number of software engineers and DevOps engineers.
3. PaaS. PaaS remains a clever software technology for rapid application development or refactoring rather than a specific market. Small PaaS players can survive by deploying their technology primarily to create conventional and nimble SaaS solutions in established markets. PaaS technology will be combined with Big Data platforms to create new services and sites in several business and consumer markets.
4. Health Information Exchanges. The firmer establishment and acceptance of The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2009 (“Obamacare”) resulting from the re-election of Obama is driving acceleration in construction and deployment of Healthcare Information Exchanges. HIE construction and operation is attracting large hardware/software providers and major systems integrators. The cloud-based security and data integration requirements for HIEs will introduce new software and security technology like JSON and Oauth into the healthcare IT market. Other industry-specific community clouds may begin to develop in public education, finance, retail and manufacturing.
5. Social media. The technology behind the massive horizontal scalability of major social and search platforms is driving into the smaller-scale footprints of independent colocation facilities, hosters, ISPs, and enterprise data centers. Enterprises will refactor and redeploy more and more applications into hybrid and private cloud deployments, taking advantage of virtualization, multi-tenancy and horizontal scalability to become more competitive with public cloud-computing metrics and price points.
6. Mobile. Scalable back-end cloud services continue to be the anchor for mobile business and consumer applications. Mobility and cloud computing enjoy a virtuous synergy that can be seen in the rich native mobile applications for popular social networks, the hugely successful online store models for application purchase and delivery from Google/Apple/Amazon, and the overall growth in mobile device traffic on popular cloud-based sites and services.
Russ Hertzberg, Vice President Technology Solutions for SoftServe Inc. and Certified Scrum Master, has 12 years of continuous experience in executive and entrepreneurial product ownership roles involving SaaS and cloud computing. In this role at SoftServe, a leading global provider of software development, testing and technology consulting, Russ is responsible for executing company initiatives in key horizontal markets including cloud computing, mobile, BI/Big Data, network security and content management. Russ can be reached at email@example.com.