Mid-year review: 10 predictions for cloud computing

As the cloud computing market continues to evolve, the focus is shifting from software as a service to infrastructure as a service (IaaS), offering more options and opportunities for government agencies to manage their own solutions and services, according to a leading industry expert on cloud technology.

IaaS is a provision model in which an organization has on-demand access to computing resources including storage, hardware, servers and networking components. 

Meanwhile, organizations are still learning how to extend platform as a service – a delivery model for software development – to custom application development, said Kevin Jackson, vice president and general manager of cloud services for NJVC, a provider of information services to civilian and defense agencies.

Earlier this year, Jackson offered a forecast of the 10 most transformational impacts cloud would have in 2013. He recently performed a mid-year review of those predictions, updating how cloud computing will continue to evolve throughout the rest of the year and into 2014.

1. Cloud technologies will converge.

An increased focus on infrastructure as a service (IaaS) is accompanied by a heightened awareness about critical build, buy or rent decisions regarding IT infrastructure sourcing. For government agencies, this will lead to more options and opportunities, and will drive the need for additional analysis and a deeper understanding of how cloud computing technologies can be used to improve mission performance.

2. Custom software will hit the cloud.

While PaaS technology continues to rapidly mature, the marketplace is still learning how to extend the PaaS concept into custom application development. The evolution of optimal DevOps business models and operating models may push widespread adoption into next year. This trend will drive the adoption of PaaS by federal system integrators. Vendors that use PaaS to deliver custom software products will enjoy a significant cost advantage in the low price, technically acceptable government procurement environment.

3. Integration will become the new “killer app.”

The cloud services brokerage is becoming a key component for managing hybrid enterprise IT environments. And a new entrant in the marketplace, the cloud access security broker, is emerging as a vital and complementary brokerage service. As cloud service standardization becomes more prevalent, federal system integrators will quickly morph into government service integrators that are able to deliver fully integrated, secure cloud-based service solutions on demand.

4. India and outsourcing countries will drive industry adoption of PaaS worldwide.

Major outsourcing countries are exploring how PaaS can be used to reduce development costs and increase margins, which is crucial to their ability to be the preferred providers of skilled labor. Security concerns and the need to preserve domestic jobs could drive a retrenchment of the worldwide offshoring business. However, the economic savings enabled by offshoring also will spur an intense review of software acquisition policies. Maintaining onshore development and enforcing citizenship requirements for software developers may no longer be financially viable for many agencies.

5. Major data centers will undergo a “survival-of-the-fittest” scenario.

Data center consolidation continues unabated. Mega-sized data centers will be augmented by smaller, regional centers. These regional centers will mainly provide caching and local storage services. Government agencies will feel ever-increasing pressure to divest themselves of government-owned data centers.

6. Health IT will adopt PaaS to replace niche “dinosaur” apps.

With Obamacare scheduled to take full effect in 2014, next year will be a major transition year for health-related technologies. Secure cloud services integration and robust protection of digital health information are both must-dos to enable health information exchanges. CIOs will look to real-world case studies for guidance for the remainder of 2013.

7. Organizations will rapidly adopt cloud services brokerages.

Cloud services brokerage and cloud access security brokers are emerging as vital and complementary services. IT departments currently are struggling to learn these skills internally or partnering externally for these services. Management tools for this multi-sourcing environment are essential. To best deal with the new paradigm of hybrid IT, government security policies also will need to be reviewed and updated to manage the transition from infrastructure-centric to data-centric security postures.

8. The U.S. government will re-think major IT contracts.

Federal agencies are moving away from large omnibus contracts toward shorter-term, performance-based vehicles, according to the latest research from Gartner. This move is expected to reduce the strength of incumbent federal system integrators and spur them to transform their business models and solution offerings. Limited funding and sequestration are contributing to this trend.

9. Innovation and entrepreneurship will hit overdrive.

Cloud computing is revolutionizing virtually every business model. Drastic reductions in the cost of IT will help the government effectively deal with ever-increasing fiscal pressures. It also will give the government the ability to deliver more valuable services to constituents.

10. Cloud adoption will move from an option to a "must have."

Cloud computing is a rapidly expanding, multibillion-dollar business. Amazon’s ability to challenge IBM for a $600-million federal cloud project signals this new era. Smaller and more nimble cloud-based services providers will spur competition and enable agency transformation.

About the Author

Rutrell Yasin is is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

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