Five Trends Show Why Cloud Computing Is Far From Mature

NEWS ANALYSIS: Here are five trends that are apparent at 2014's midpoint that show customers face a lot of difficult questions and choices when selecting cloud computing services.

cloud computing

The concept of using cloud computing to replace or augment your IT infrastructure is still relatively new. The introduction of Amazon Web Services in 2006 is a good date to pick as a starting point for this trend.

We are now halfway through 2014 and Google, IBM, HP and the OpenStack gang have had their turns to talk about their latest cloud offerings. So this is a good time to see what is changing in cloud computing. Here are five trends I’m watching.

1. Transparency: I consistently hear from users and potential users that cloud computing sounds great, but while the tech is fairly straightforward to consider it is still devilishly difficult to figure out the pricing.

This seems like it should be simple to solve. While the big cloud vendors are very public about price cutting, there remains lots of room to help CIOs figure out in advance what they will pay.

Developer-focused DigitalOcean has the easiest to understand pricing model and the cloud vendors would be wise to take a look at how the residential solar energy companies are using mapping technology and simple pricing models to allow consumers to clearly see the cost advantages and financing models for converting to solar.

2. Regional (and smaller) Clouds: Cloud computing was based on creating massive data centers and then pulling in enough customers to make the investment worthwhile. One of the aftershocks of the Snowden government snooping revelations is that users, companies and countries now care about where their data is being stored.

While country-by-country cloud computing centers may not be the most efficient in terms of scale, it may be the most effective in acquiring new customers and retaining the old.

3. The hybrid narrative: The story around the hybrid cloud goes something like this: you mash up your on-premise applications with off-premise cloud services and voila! You have resources which can scale out with demand. Or at least that is the vendor narrative.

Right now the hybrid cloud usually means a mixture of in-house applications and software-as-a-service applications for sales force management, human resources and payroll. Maybe the hybrid scenario will be closer to the seamless infrastructure model in a year or so, but not this year.

4. Incompatible clouds: Amazon, Google and Microsoft all have their visions and versions of cloud computing. Even OpenStack, which promises a common core, has vendors offering different branches off that core. The choice of a cloud vendor remains one of those sticky decisions that are hard to throw in reverse if the relationship sours.

5. The Internet of things that don’t talk with one another: The advent of the sensor-based digital world is one of those emerging technologies that have vendors salivating for sales. However, we are now in an era of competing approaches to sensor communications.

As eWEEK reported, new industry consortiums are coming into being as vendors contending to be at the forefront of thing-based computing. However, standards take time to develop and a marketplace marked by competing standards often induces users to sit back and wait until the dust settles.

The Internet of things will indeed become a big business for cloud vendors, which may be the only sources of computing and network capacity to acquire, analyze and act on all that sensor information. It is just that the thing-based businesses all those vendors are counting on may not develop as quickly as their plans foretell.

Those five trends are certainly not the only trends taking place in cloud computing. But at this year’s midpoint they indicate a continued contentious time in the cloud business.

Eric Lundquist is a technology analyst at Ziff Brothers Investments, a private investment firm. Lundquist, who was editor-in-chief at eWEEK (previously PC WEEK) from 1996-2008 authored this article for eWEEK to share his thoughts on technology, products and services. No investment advice is offered in this article. All duties are disclaimed. Lundquist works separately for a private investment firm which may at any time invest in companies whose products are discussed in this article and no disclosure of securities transactions will be made.