5 Cloud Trends You Don't Want To Miss In 2014

What's Next For The Cloud?

As the year comes to a close, cloud continues to stay at the forefront of the industry. But, as cloud evolves, what should solution providers be jumping on in 2014 to stay ahead of their competitors? In an interview with CRN, Rackspace CTO John Engates broke down the five cloud trends that he sees for the coming year that solution providers need to be on board with before they get left behind.

5. Internet Of Everything

As more devices get connected to the cloud, from wearable watches to cars, non-tech companies are scrambling to get ahead. "I think that just shows there is a big trend underway where companies are not just product companies; they're a product plus," Engates said.

This shift is a huge opportunity for solution providers, he said, because these companies don't necessarily want to spend the money or time to bring the entire technology infrastructure in-house. "If you think about the companies that are doing this, a lot of them are product companies, ... but they aren't necessarily born and bred as technology companies," Engates said. "What we have to do is bring the technology expertise and the data centers and the cloud computing to the table and make it easy for them."

Engates said wearable technology is in the early adoption phase, but he predicts it will be in full force in 2014 and will only get more sophisticated. "It really is going to put the tech of today and yesterday to shame," he said, and solution providers will need to be ready.

4. Container Technology

Another technology that emerged in 2013 that Engates said is going to hit its stride in the next year is container technology, which allows companies to encapsulate the application stack for easier migration and control. Engates said he has already seen the technology take off within Rackspace, and he expects it to continue to penetrate the industry going forward.

"It's not going to be so strict that we have to have a [separate] compute cloud and a storage cloud. We might end up having one big cloud that can do a lot of things," Engates told CRN.

In the end, it's all about flexibility, Engates said, which is what container technology helps enable through the cloud.

"It's not about locking you in. It's about unlocking the potential for innovation," Engates said.

3. Cloud Specialization

As more and more companies start to offer the cloud, Engates predicts companies will start to specialize more and more within the cloud to remain competitive. Instead of a one-size-fits-all cloud offering, Engates said he sees companies offering specific clouds for health care, finance, and other industries in 2014. In 2013, Engates said, companies have been dropping prices in order to stay competitive, but that simply isn't sustainable in the long term.

"The whole solution stack has to figure out how it organizes itself to serve those specific customer markets," Engates said. "Technology [cloud services] and, ultimately, the customer have to come together, and that will be the way you'll see people start to compete, because it's not going to work forever to say we'll just drop the price; ... we'll have to specialize."

2. Open Source

In order to take advantage of all of the opportunities out there, from wearable technology to cloud connectivity, Engates said that open source will take on a much bigger role in 2014. However, today the industry isn't completely there yet, he said.

"IT isn't really in a position today to really take advantage of some of these things," Engates said.

The rise of software-as-a-service, Engates said, will help give some companies the push they need toward open source solutions. In the end, it's about getting back to the solutions that add value and stepping away from the ones that don't, he said.

1. Information Transformation

Overall, Engates said that 2014 will bring a shift in the role of the IT provider, from information technology to information transformation.

"IT departments are going to have to fundamentally transform themselves, or even rename themselves [information transformation]," Engates said.

For 2014, it's about breaking down the barriers between IT department or solution provider and the rest of the business, he said. Solutions need to be embedded into the day-to-day business, he said. He recommended IT departments and solution providers start experimenting with implementing new technologies instead of waiting for businesses to ask for it.

"I think a lot of companies are starting to see the writing on the wall that they can't operate in the silos they operate in today," Engates said. "I think that that world is going to be left behind if they don't start to think about how they embrace the new stuff in line with that new way of thinking."