Cloud Predictions For 2015

For the past few years I’ve used this holiday period as a chance to do some prognostication. It’s a fun exercise – looking back at trends from the previous 12 months and trying to predict what’s next.

Looking back at my 2014 cloud predictions, I’m fairly pleased with how I did. Wearable technologies took a huge step forward with the Apple Watch announcement, specialized clouds based on workload continued to enter the conversation, open source grew and container technology emerged as a force. Looking back, I’d give myself a B.

So what can we expect in 2015? Below are my predictions.

John Engates spoke more about his cloud predictions for 2015 in a live Google Hangout. Watch a full recording here:

Cloud Choices Abound
Businesses will be faced with more choices in the cloud than ever before. Do you go for cheap? Do you go for the most bells and whistles? And how do you know which one you’ll need in five years? 2015 sees the emergence of a multi-cloud world where you’ll be able to string together cloud services from various providers based on your specific workloads. But with more choices comes more responsibility. Price isn’t the only factor to consider. “Oh, it’s cheap!” will no longer sell cloud. Cloud providers must differentiate themselves in stronger ways. Customers will gravitate toward the solutions that best address their specific business needs, whether that’s based on support, a mix of bare metal and public cloud, private clouds or myriad other options. For example, Rackspace now offers three distinct types of private clouds – OpenStack, Microsoft and VMware – to give customers the choice of how they proceed with private cloud.

It’s Not The Cost That Counts
Along with the vast number of cloud choices, the focus on what drives the most value will be a key theme for 2015. Value isn’t just about cost – it’s also about the time and energy you spend managing and scaling your environment. So, while providers will become more agnostic, the importance of a trusted partner will grow stronger, whether you rely on that partner to manage your public or private cloud, automate your DevOps or keep tabs on your apps, like Google Apps for Work. Companies will have to ask themselves if they want to swell their payrolls hiring the resources needed to manage all of their tools and technologies. This will force companies to determine what matters most to them – focusing on IT management or on their business – and decide who they can partner with to deliver the most value.

OpenStack Gets Boring
In 2015, OpenStack will celebrate its fifth birthday. And that birthday will be boring. That’s a good thing. When a technology matures, it becomes less and less exciting. That’s where we see OpenStack going. Forrester research agrees. In a Quick Take from OpenStack Summit Paris, Forrester wrote: “At its Paris summit, the OpenStack Foundation celebrated the 10th release of the platform (code name: Juno). What stood out about this latest iteration and the progress of its ever-growing ecosystem of vendors, users, and service providers was the lack of excitement that comes with maturity. The Juno release addressed many challenges holding back enterprise adoption to this point and showed signs that 2015 may be the year its use shifts over from mostly test and development to mainstream production deployments.” We hope that maturity brings with it simplification – if we make OpenStack as easy as possible to use, manage and scale, more and more users will adopt it.

Bigger Data
For the past few years we’ve predicted a major upswing in the importance of big data and the tools and skills needed to manage it at scale. In 2015, that need for big data will get, well, bigger. Enterprises are catching on to the big data wave, but they don’t have the skills needed in house to pull necessary value out of that data. The explosion of connected devices will further fuel the flames, creating more data that needs to be extracted and analyzed. Data scientists will be a hot commodity, but much like the DevOps revolution of 2014, top data talent will be difficult to come by and expensive to hire. But big data won’t slow down – look for as many as five disruptive new big data technologies to emerge in the coming year. At the same time, current technologies like Hadoop will become even more ingrained into your business. To navigate the increasingly complex big data landscape, companies will outsource their big data needs to remove the burden and cost of doing big data internally. Enterprises will demand a shortcut.

IT Gets Sensored
Cars, smartwatches, tablets, smartphones – sensors will be embedded in EVERYTHING! (Well, maybe not every single thing, but most things.) If we so choose, we can be connected to the Internet 24x7x365, and every product we buy will have some sort of embedded sensor to collect, transmit or distribute data. Look how Apple Pay is already disrupting the payment industry by giving users zero-click buying power in their pocket. And Apple Watch is going to take that one step further. This goes well beyond the BYOD conversations of yesteryear. Embedded devices and sensors are taking us into uncharted territory. With all of these devices generating all of this data, IT will have to exact some level of control to ensure that security and data integrity are not compromised. But it’s a delicate balance, as end users won’t want to be restricted in what devices and solutions they use.

Containers, Containers, Containers
Next year, container technologies and adoption will grow immensely. With Docker leading the pack, container use in production environments will continue to grow. Docker won’t be alone. A number of container-focused alternatives will emerge in an attempt to knock Docker out of the water. The technology big dogs themselves will likely look to launch their own container solutions – either through acquisition or homegrown technology. Containers’ speed and portability took hold in 2014. 2015 will be the year the ship really sets sail.

The CMO Turns Into A CMT
Gartner predicted that by 2017, marketing will spend more on technology than IT. Meanwhile, according to Forrester Research, roughly 40 percent of marketing leaders rank technology as the No. 1 area for improvement in their departments. Marketers will rely more heavily on tools like collaboration software, CRM, automation, CMS and social. In 2015, marketers will be increasingly called upon to make decisions about how to adopt these new technologies. They’ll have to add more technology chops as the demand for tech know-how continually increases, thus forcing the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) to become the Chief Marketing Technologist (CMT).

Secure It
Nearly every company I’ve met with in the past year mentions security. In 2015, security will evolve more into a service than a series of products daisy-chained together to build a solution. The NSA spying on citizens has caused businesses to rethink how they go about security and reconsider where their data lives. In 2014, more options emerged, whether it was the reemergence of single-tenant bare metal servers or a boom in interest in private clouds to secure sensitive information and applications. Security has to be always on, and delivering security as a service is something we’ll see bubble up to the surface next year.

Alternative Silicon Rising
People have long predicted that new processing architectures were just about to take off in the hyper-scale datacenter world. We’ve heard buzz around ARM-based solutions for years, but have seen products that only fit niche applications. Low performance and a fragmented software ecosystem were a big problem. That changed this year. 2014 saw big news around Google’s involvement with IBM and OpenPOWER, and Cavium bringing out a server-grade ARM platform. 2015 will be the year that alternative silicon really begins to rise. Watch this space.

Want to hear more from John Engates about his cloud predictions for 2015? Tune in Thursday, December 11 at 1 p.m. CST for a live Google Hangout during which John will look into the crystal ball and predict the cloud’s future. RSVP and watch live on Google+: or view it live on YouTube:

John Engates joined Rackspace in August 2000, just a year after the company was founded, as Vice President of Operations, managing the datacenter operations and customer-service teams. Two years later, when Rackspace decided to add new services for larger enterprise customers, John created and helped develop the Intensive Hosting business unit. John played an active role in the evolution and evangelism of Rackspace’s cloud-computing strategy and cloud products. John met frequently with customers to hear about their needs and concerns, and to discuss Rackspace’s vision for the future of cloud computing. John's final positions was as the company’s Chief Evangelist. John is also an internationally recognized cloud computing expert and a sought-after speaker at technology conferences, including CA World, the Goldman Sachs Techtonics Conference and Cloud Expo. He speaks on the future of cloud computing, enterprise cloud adoption, data center efficiency, green data center best practices, and more. Prior to joining Rackspace, John was a founder and General Manager at Internet Direct, one of the original Internet service providers in Texas. John is a graduate of the University of Texas at San Antonio and holds a B.B.A. in Accounting.


  1. John, I’d add one more to the list. Networking. The network, arguably the most important aspect of the Cloud, is the most ‘UN’ cloud-like. Everyone talks about how the Cloud offers elasticity, flexibility, is on-demand, secure, and utilizes a pay-as-you-go model. Furthermore, it’s cost-effective and less complex because it’s all delivered as a service. Well the network should exhibit exactly the same characteristics! As CEO of Nuvem Networks, we have developed the first cloud SDN platform the brings all the characteristics of the Cloud to the NETWORK. No hardware. No software. No contracts. No hassles. Now any business can build as many SDN’s as they need, to as many clouds as they want, build them, tear them down, pay only for what they use.


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