10 Virtualization and Cloud Predictions for 2012

Crystal Ball

You may as well look in a crystal ball!

Welcome to IT prediction season! Again, I am inspired to throw my exceedingly fallible hat into the ring with my predictions, specifically for virtualization and cloud. I seem to have had a decent run of predictions last year, but I claim more luck than credit. I still think predictions are a mug’s game, and continue to eschew both the importance and reliability of predictions.

That said, here are my predictions for 2012:

1. Brands May Come and Go – But No Technology Will Die

Not only are we not living in a ‘post-PC’ world, we are not even living in a ‘post-mainframe’ world! Cloud will not kill data centers, virtual will not kill physical, tablets will not kill PCs, Mac will not kill Windows, Android will not kill iOS, streaming will not kill DVDs. The technology pie is growing, our choices are expanding, and almost every slice is getting bigger. So be prepared to manage an ever-increasing selection of technologies across public and private boundaries.

2. Hybrid IT Will Be ‘The Next Big Thing’

‘Hybrid cloud’ was soooo 2011! In this new world of choices, business will expect hybrid IT: a combination of on-site and off-site; cloud and legacy; private and public; physical and virtual; social and secure; enterprise and consumer; desktop and server; mobile and static. Business will also expect IT to make them work together, whether IT owns the service or not. IT must act as a trusted advisor, as a service broker, and as quality assurance for this brave new world of complex Hybrid IT.

3. Service Quality Will Be IT’s Responsibility Again

As hybrid IT proliferates, business owners will (again) realize they do not want to manage technology; they just want it to work. In 2012, end users will increasingly expect IT to take responsibility for service quality, regardless of who is buying, selling, or delivering that service. IT will need to eliminate the blind spots in hybrid IT, actively support an explosion of devices, deal with complex cross-boundary services, and find a way to deliver a 360-degree service assurance across all facets of end-user experience.

4. Public Cloud Adoption Will Slow

Given the results of this year’s Longhaus research from Australia – an early adopter market and a bellwether for business technology – I suspect the rest of the world is in for a slowdown of public cloud adoption. Issues (perceived or real) with security, compliance, service quality, skills, staffing, complexity, and good old politics will all put the brakes on. Whether ‘cloud stall’ will be as pronounced as ‘virtual stall’ is unsure, but 2012 will see a marked slowdown in public cloud adoption.

5. Public Cloud ‘Gets’ Security

Sad but true – many (most?) enterprise decision-makers still do not trust public cloud. In 2012, IT must do a better job of deploying and explaining cloud security – and I believe we will! In 2012, CIOs will see security as less of a barrier to cloud adoption as organizations adopt more and better cloud-oriented security solutions – including solutions designed for complex hybrid cloud services, as well as solutions that are delivered through the cloud with easily-consumed Security SaaS options.

6. Big Iron is Back – Part I

No, mainframe is still not dead. On the contrary, 2012 will see the rise of the mainframe as a *gasp* cloud platform. Massively scalable, hosting critical (and underutilized) ‘big data’, capable of running complex cloud workloads on a variety of architectures (z/OS, Linux, UNIX, Windows), mainframe is really an obvious cloud platform. It will not replace commodity clouds, but large enterprises and governments especially will leverage their investments and bring big iron into their cloud mix.

7. Cloud Gets Heterogeneous

Not only will mainframe become part of the cloud landscape, but public cloud providers will also start to offer UNIX and maybe even other non-x86 platforms. I have recently seen this in action (CA did it internally years ago), and most large enterprises are heavily dependent on heterogeneous systems for their mission-critical applications. Despite the common myth that cloud == commodity servers, heterogeneous servers will start to become more available for large enterprise deployments.

8. Big Iron is Back – Part II

Big iron concepts of integrated compute, network, and storage are resurgent – but this is not your grandpa’s mainframe. Deployment of integrated fabrics like Cisco UCS and VCE Vblock will accelerate rapidly in 2012 as IT changes the way it thinks about integrated infrastructure for virtualization and cloud – and realizes how amazing these integrated boxes are for diverse, dynamic, high-volume workloads like desktop virtualization, pop-up data centers, and cloudbursting.

 9. ‘Grown-up’ Cloud Service Management Comes To The Forefront

In 2011, the NIST Cloud Reference Architecture devoted a whole section to ‘Cloud Service Management’, and IT started to talk about ‘grown-up’ disciplines – planning, budgeting, performance, asset, inventory, service levels, audit, etc. In 2012, even ‘commodity’ cloud vendors will finally take cloud management seriously, as enterprises and governments demand these disciplines – and smaller providers differentiate on service and security, not just price.

10. Virtualization Management Becomes Irrelevant

In January 2009 I predicted, “in 3-5 years … niche [Virtual System Management] vendors will no longer survive, as virtualization becomes a core part of the enterprise compute fabric.” Three years later this trend has definitely started, and will accelerate in 2012 as IT turns instead to hybrid IT management, recognizing that silos of standalone virtualization management is a costly and inefficient burden. Maybe 2012 is not the end of Virtualization Management, but it is going to be the start of the demise.

So that is my punt on 2012. I have no idea whether they will come true, but they seem to make sense to me. Again, if you are reading this in December 2012, please feel free to e-mail me and let me know how I went. I won’t be surprised either way. 🙂

[this post was originally published at VMblog.com]