The salty tang in the air is the fragrance of a sea change in IT – a tidal shift that will change the role of IT and IT participants over the next five years. I believe that 2016 will go down as the year in which the future of IT appears out of a murky, dank, blinding fog into the clear sunshine of the shape of things to come. And it’s safe to say that no traditional IT practitioners – vendor and enterprise IT organization alike – will emerge unscathed from this transition.
Here is what we’ll see in 2016:
1. Death of the enterprise public cloud
For years incumbent vendors pooh-poohed the rise of AWS, dismissing it as the sandbox of immature users – SMBs and startups. When AWS became too large to dismiss so blithely, incumbents vendors (both on-premise giants like HP and hosting providers like Terramark) proclaimed that what “real” users needed was an “enterprise cloud” provided by an organization that “understands enterprise needs.”
This led to several years of conference booths splashed with taglines like “XXX delivers the enterprise cloud” and “YYY enterprise cloud: delivering the best cloud infrastructure.” The clear implication of these taglines was that AWS does not provide a really robust cloud sufficient to enterprise needs, but that these companies understand what enterprises require and have built infrastructure to deliver it. Part of the value proposition was commonly use of “enterprise” gear from Cisco and EMC, in contrast to the use of commodity kit by AWS and its cousins like Google and Microsoft; most of the “enterprise” CSPs also used a software infrastructure based on VMware.
There’s only one problem with this: Enterprise IT organizations showed little sign of preferring these “enterprise” offerings, and the proof of this is this year’s actions:
- HP threw in the towel on its public cloud offering.
- Verizon appeared to tiptoe toward announcing it would sell off its enterprise assets (including Terremark, its cloud offering), then tiptoed back from the precipice by stating it remained committed to its offering and was continuing to invest hundreds of millions of dollars per year. And then word came that it was moving forward with the sale.
- CenturyLink announced it was interested in selling off its data center assets. This is not a sure sign that the company was looking to get out of cloud computing, and it insisted that it remains committed to cloud computing … then two of its top cloud execs left the company.
- The ongoing Dell/EMC/VMware/Virtustream soap opera indicates, if nothing else, that VMware still has no defined go-forward strategy for public cloud computing.
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