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Seven Cloud Predictions for 2014

Enterprise Buyers Step to the Forefront, While PaaS Sheds Its Unfortunate Name

With the end of the year buzz around predictions, it's hard not to join in the conversation. Our CenturyLink Cloud leadership team came together for a few predictions for the year head - and to show we are keepin' it real, we scored last year's predictions as well.

1. Enterprise-buyer demand fuels cloud consolidation. Well past the "dipping their toes in" stage with cloud-native apps, enterprises are now accelerating the migration of business-critical applications to the cloud. They will demand more complete, mature cloud solutions from the IT providers they already know and trust. This, in turn, will result in more cloud M&A activity as incumbent vendors solidify their cloud strategy and enhance offerings.

2. PaaS begins to go away- thankfully - as a stand-alone product category. Instead, it goes mainstream as just another cloud service. Platform as a Service finally grows out of its awkward adolescence, becoming another application service available from cloud providers. In another boost for enterprise developers, continuous integration platforms become a standard service on cloud platforms as well.

3. Customers shift to "cloud first" thinking in their managed services buying behavior. Consequently, SIs, MSPs and other traditional IT suppliers strike partnerships to stay relevant. With a waning interest in stand-alone infrastructure product offerings, smart service providers that lack a strong cloud play in 2013 will partner with best-in-class cloud providers to maintain customers in 2014. When IT budgets are allocated on the strength of each vendor's cloud services and roadmap, those that don't partner will see their wallet-share fade.

4. Cloud buyers show their savvy with more sophisticated buying habits. They will choose clouds - not based on components and specs - but instead on the entire package offered. Cloud is no longer just about "feeds and speeds" of specific VMs. Buying patterns will mature, and clouds will be evaluated more holistically as complete application environments and total economic value. Management capabilities, SLAs and application services will become more common buying criteria.

5. Cloud automation becomes table stakes for cloud service providers. Cloud usage hits an inflection point where the human cost of management is now a central consideration. CIOs and business leaders will start to prioritize feature-rich clouds and seamless add-ons that enable greater automation in an effort to remove mundane manual tasks and free up expert resources wherever possible. Clouds will be viewed and prioritized based on their ability to deliver advanced levels of automation.

6. Customers demand common cloud benchmarks for far easier apples-to-apples comparisons. The results of these benchmarks will be surprising - and informative. Recent months showed some real progress in the benchmarking area, delineating the differences between virtual servers at leading providers. This trend will grow, and in the spirit of prediction #4, focus more on holistic environment performance like network throughput and IO. The results will underscore the difference between "built for failure" clouds and more natively resilient providers.

7. In a long overdue move, every credible cloud platform will encrypt data all the way through. Several undercurrents are driving this prediction - data sovereignty, global cloud deployments and yes, PRISM.

More Stories By Richard Seroter

Richard Seroter is head of cloud product management for CenturyLink Cloud. He spent the first six years of his career working for two major IT consulting organizations, Accenture and Avanade. On his first engagement at Avanade, he was roped into working with a beta release of BizTalk Server 2000. From that point on, he remained actively involved with BizTalk Server and in 2005 joined Microsoft’s Southern California district as a BizTalk Technology Specialist. Richard maintains a blog of his exploits, pitfalls and musings at http://seroter.wordpress.com.

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