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Top 5 Things You’ll See In Cloud Platforms In 2015

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While the public cloud wars continue to rage among Google, Amazon and Microsoft, in 2015 we’re likely to see a quiet storm gathering around enterprises adopting cloud platforms. Cloud platforms are typically less understood architecture but serve as a growing greenfield for enterprise innovation, application creation and business agility. Why is the platform coming into its own?

Look at these milestones around domain maturity and growth:

  • Cloud platforms are coalescing around the domain needs of the enterprise: a cloud for sales force automation (force.com), one for HR (Workday) one for financials (Netsuite) and one for enterprise services (ServiceNow), for example.
  • Adoption of the cloud platform is growing at a strong clip: Morgan Stanley survey of 150 CIOs shows that Salesforce usage moving from 9 per cent of CIOs today to 29 per cent by the end of 2015; ServiceNow usage is expected to move from 9 per cent of respondents today to 28 per cent by end of 2015.

Here are the five cloud trends I predict will unfold in the next year:

1. Cloud Universes Come Together

As clouds coalesce around sales, HR, financials, and enterprise services, we’re seeing how these universes are naturally attracting one another. End users are demanding the expansive functionality that cloud integration provides — in shared services and a broader view of their operations and customers. Cloud vendors can build the requisite connections to draw themselves closer because in the cloud world there are fewer technology obstacles than in the data centre era. Specifically, well-defined REST APIs and common programming languages, such as Java, Javascript or Perl provide each universe with a widening and more accessible surface area to connect.

2. A Meteoric Rise For Cloud Verticalisation

As cloud platforms continue to mature and more organisations are drawn to the financial and innovative benefits, cloud is spurring interest from even those industries that have been hesitant. Think of those most beset with regulation, compliance and privacy: government, life sciences, financial and healthcare – central government in the UK is responsible for 79 per cent of the purchases through the G-Cloud framework’s CloudStore digital marketplace.

But at the same time only £385,000 of the £440m spend on IT services by local government when through the same marketplace. Those organisations that have navigated security and compliance hurdles have delivered real innovation. Lots of cloud providers are going to take the necessary steps to receive appropriate industry certifications, creating more platforms designed to align to European Data Protection Regulations, Sarbanes–Oxley (in the US), Data Protection Act or Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations.

3. The CIO Is Buying Services, Not Computer Power

Not long ago, IT teams used to be the administrator of data centre infrastructure. But as the hardware behind the cloud (VMs, KVM, Docker, etc) continues to become more scalable, connected and increasingly delivered as a service, IT teams can move away from a hardware-centric world of storage space or CPUs. In the future, we’ll see enterprise IT teams thinking of and buying services to deploy apps or solve business problems, like adding request management, onboarding employees and purchasing.

IT teams are looking through the lens of the business services they deliver, not the IT components. This has several implications: One is the role of the CIO, which is moving away from being associated with broken smartphones, PCs and other hardware. Instead CIOs can focus on advising on how to use IT to deliver the requisite business services. With that, CIOs are re-claiming their seat at the table with other business leaders. As a corollary, IT staff will need to develop new skills to be conversant in and support business services.

4. Data-As-A-Service Or Business Intelligence 2.0

As more companies build cloud-based systems-of-record that capture their corporate operational data, the data residing there is increasingly ripe for business intelligence. There is not a need for an enterprise project to find the relevant data and coalesce it into a warehouse – that data already exists in the single system of record. More enterprises will tap this data as a repository rich for operational insight. How are users accessing the company’s business services? What services are the most used? Having a single system of record can help IT teams leapfrog more traditional data warehousing techniques by running analytics on the sitting data in the system of record.

5. The Cloud Brings ‘Agile Development’

Just as agile development has changed the way software is coded, we’re seeing that a cloud platform is expediting the way business teams can convert ideas into applications. By having a common platform to develop on, organisations can let their teams rapidly create and test their ideas—in days or weeks instead of months. They can fail quickly – investing and risking less money. Think of the cloud platform as enabling the “Series A” investor within the enterprise. Just look a recent example from the US, where the US Postal Service spurred its 2014 holiday stamp programme. In days it built an app to streamline postage stamp delivery from two factories to local post offices across the country based on a custom app. The cloud platform is unleashing a new era of B2B innovation.

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Dave Wright is Chief Strategy Officer for ServiceNow.