Cloud Experts Say the Darndest Things About 2015

Hitting the Target

This report looks at where cloud is headed for 2015, through the eyes of several experts in the field:

  • Introduction
  • John Engates – People won’t just buy on cost.
  • Allan Leinwand – Development agility will grow increasingly important.
  • Nigel Beighton – Infrastructure is on its way out.
  • Sachin Sony – Enterprises will build private, leading toward hybrid.
  • Conclusion


Cloud grew astronomically during 2014. The infrastructure as a service field became increasingly competitive at the top, as IBM and Microsoft took turns throwing punches at AWS, primarily by injecting huge sums of cash into breakneck efforts to topple the obvious market leader.

What happens in 2015? James Bourne collected perspectives from several industry experts.

Notably, these experts are to a large extent voice boxes for the strategies of their corporations. Don’t necessarily expect evenhanded attitudes or even clarity here. With that sizable grain of salt (maybe even a saltshaker), let’s look at these expert projections:

John Engates – People won’t just buy on cost.

John Engates, the chief technology officer of Rackspace, said the customers will be seeking out more sophisticated plans in 2015, rather than simply making buying decisions on cost. He commented, “The importance of a trusted partner will grow stronger, whether you rely on that partner to manage your public or private cloud, automate your DevOps or keep tabs on your apps.”

Firms will consider whether or not they want to hire people to manage technology in-house or use a third-party provider. They will look at the cost of IT management as a capital expense versus treating it as an operating expense through a hosting company.

It should come as no surprise that the “it’s not all about cost” spiel is not an objective opinion but represents a major publicity effort and business strategy at Rackspace.

Here’s how that all played out: Google dropped its prices for cloud on March 25 – with its storage plans and data analysis packages cut 68% and 85%, respectively. Amazon responded by dropping some of its own prices on March 26. A week later, Microsoft slashed prices as well. Neither Amazon nor Microsoft went quite as bargain-basement as Google, though. Rackspace subsequently announced that it would not be joining in the price war.

No matter how the company wants to frame it, James Sanders of TechRepublic explained that the contest between mega-companies to become the Walmart of cloud “is one that [Rackspace] simply cannot afford to join — razor-thin profit margins will not work for smaller organizations like Rackspace.”

Allan Leinwand – Development agility will grow increasingly important.

Allan Leinwand, the chief technology officer of cloud at ServiceNow, believes that platforms serve a vital collaborative function for businesses, allowing them to turn concepts into applications by integrating their perspectives and actual code in real time. He argued that by using a cloud platform, you can more quickly develop projects and test them. If tests don’t work out and an idea doesn’t end up making sense in application form, the amount of money at stake is reduced. He suggested that we “think of the cloud platform as enabling the ‘series A’ investor within the enterprise.”

Sure, platforms can work in that way, but Leinwand seems to me describing cloud in general. Developers don’t necessarily need vendor-specific platforms in order to succeed quickly at collaborative developmental projects.

Nonetheless, the explosive growth of PaaS is difficult to ignore.

Nigel Beighton – Infrastructure is on its way out.

Nigel Beighton, who is the vice president of technology for Rackspace, suggests that IaaS will be left in the dust as platforms, Web-based software (SaaS), containers, and continuous deployment become more prevalent. “IaaS has spelled its own irrelevance in the mind of the buyer by its API, and the abstractions on top of that which bring value to the user,” he said.

That is what we call “wishful thinking,” which seems to be the general angle of Rackspace these days in their public commentary. Gartner forecast in 2013 that cloud infrastructure would grow at a 41.3% CAGR through 2016, faster than platform or software. Saying that infrastructure is on its way out is like a guy at the bus station telling you that the cell phone market is getting ready to tank.

Sachin Sony – Enterprises will build private, leading toward hybrid.

Finally, Sachin Sony, who manages marketing for Equinix, said something that was at least not a thinly veiled sales pitch. Sony said that he thinks public and private clouds will become more common in organizations – setting the stage for hybrid. These clouds will also be more expansive: “Major cloud providers have become more aggressive in deploying their services, and enterprise CIOs have largely moved beyond simply deploying selected applications in the cloud.”


We will see how 2015 develops, but the industry won’t mold itself to fit the desires of the Rackspace business plan.

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By Kent Roberts