Cloud

Predictions for Enterprise IT 2011

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Publishing end-of-year predictions has become de rigueur for anyone with an opinion and a blogging platform. Few of these predictions are founded in any scientific analysis with any degree of statistical confidence. They’re raw, intuitive reflection, expression and judgment based on unique experience and points of view.

But as we’ve learned in the age of social everything, there’s wisdom in the crowds.

If you were to analyze the hundreds of predictions for IT that will hit the blogosphere over the coming weeks, the truth for 2011 would probably emerge.

That’s why I think this is an exercise worth continuing — not because you uniquely value my point of view or because I’ve cornered the market on vision — but because it contributes in a small but equally important way to our insights for 2011. It’s also why I look forward to this time of year — to offer my predictions and, more importantly, readthose of others.

So, as my contribution to the crowd, here are my IT predictions for 2011:

  1. Private cloud proliferates – The second half of 2010 was all about the private cloud. The rise of the public cloud brought new clarity and focus for the CIO who recognized that, without a transformation in its delivery models, IT organizations would be disrupted and perhaps disintermediated by the speed, flexibility and economy of public cloud services. In 2011, we’ll see widespread investment in private cloud projects as IT leadership defines the reference architecture for next-generation IT delivery models.
  2. Public cloud thrives – At the same time, we’ll see continued growth—explosive growth—in public cloud services, where affinity will continue to bind to small and mid-sized businesses and non-production enterprise workloads. We’ll also see more evidence of rogue workloads leaking to the public cloud outside of the reach of corporate policies. This will motivate IT leadership to define governance models for controlled usage of public cloud services.
  3. Hybrid cloud emerges – Definition of such governance models will enable enterprise IT to begin experimenting with hybrid cloud models. Initially, this will look like a simple stratification of deployment environments based on life cycle stage—for example, dev and test workloads only in public cloud. But such early experimentation will enable IT leaders to define the reference architecture for the dynamic data center of the future, where workloads can move fluidly between deployment environments. By enabling application portability, workloads become a liquid commodity and a marketplace emerges. IT can dynamically retarget workloads based on optimizations for price, policy or performance, and they achieve true leverage over service providers.
  4. Ecosystem rules – And speaking of leverage… fear of leverage lost through expanding hegemony of virtualization and cloud infrastructure providers (read: VMware) will conspire with frustration over the pace of innovation—giving rise to a new class of smaller, independent providers that become important vendors in their own rights. Best of breed tools will become integrated ecosystem-led solutions that represent a foundation for making this transformation to delivering IT as a service.
  5. Power is redistributed – IT leverage over service providers means better cost-economies and more innovation, as software and service providers are forced to differentiate and add deeper, more sustainable value to IT customers. This will fuel the transformation of IT delivery models as enabling technologies mature and cost is driven down. For providers, it will lead to new niche markets and specialized domains (think: industry-specific clouds, for example) as a basis for sustaining unique advantage under the threat of commoditization. We’ll see early signs of this dynamic in 2011, but it will take several years for it to fully manifest.
  6. New models for IT leadership – New architectures that enable dynamic workload portability will change the ideals of the CIO from operationally focused to sourcing and portfolio focused. We’ll see some old-line CIOs cycle out in the face of change. And we’ll see new stars born on the basis of a new vision for IT, inspired—and not threatened—by the rise of public cloud services. The successful among them will find ways to define the “to-be” IT delivery model, while also looking after “as-is” realities. New expectations for IT will lead to new expectations for IT leadership to guide us through what is going to be a mandatory transformation.

So, that’s it: my predictions for 2011. Take them for what they’re worth — which is to say, take them in the context of other predictions. Then draw your own conclusions. That’s how we all get closer to the truth.

Jake Sorofman is founding partner of Marketlever, a boutique strategy and communications consultancy. Prior to founding Marketlever, Jake was CMO of rPath, a leader in cloud automation tools.

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