Forecast for 2014: A ‘winter of despair’ for traditional IT Providers

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way” - A Tale of Two Cities

To be honest, one of the more painful experiences of my education was being made to read Dickens’ “Great Expectations”. However, Charles does a pretty good job of summarising the current state of the most dramatic transformation in recent information technology history – the shift to Cloud Computing.

The past year has seen a dramatic surge of customer activity towards cloud platforms  - for reasons of security, cost, agility, flexibility, and scale. This has created a “winter of despair” for traditional IT providers who are locked into outdated, on-premise delivery models often tied to legacy data centre investments.

We have seen a shift in the tone of conversations on data sovereignty. Emotive statements have evolved to rational assessments in a surprisingly short space of time. A year ago we regularly faced unfounded resistance on the migration to cloud computing due to sovereignty, privacy and security concerns. We’ve seen that largely evaporate – customers now agree that true cloud platforms offer unmatched privacy and security. Furthermore, sovereignty is now rationally assessed in terms of proper data categorisation and receiving the appropriate levels of scrutiny when raised as an objection.

 In part this has been aided by the government publishing several whitepapers this year on cloud technology, as well as industry leaders from large enterprises, such as Commonwealth Bank, clearly discussing the benefits cloud computing has already delivered for them. We’re still educating the market on the features and benefits of cloud computing, but we’ve certainly turned a corner. The year ahead will see the majority of customers mandating “Cloud first” in their platform selection criteria.

2014 will be the year that “mobile first” becomes the norm, wherein concepts like responsive web design (where web content dynamically adapts to screen resolution) become a non-negotiable requirement for new applications. This in turn is tied to the notion of “100% web” – and the increasing irrelevance of operating systems and desktop management to IT organisations. Devices like the Google Chromebook will start to proliferate within the enterprise. Industry commentators are already linking these low management, low cost devices to the demise of  the  traditional desktop hegemony.

“Anytime, anywhere, any device” is a key purchasing decision combined with true utility based pricing. This new reality is starting hitting home against those peddling “false clouds”, private clouds and legacy infrastructure-locked licensing models. Many will not survive the transition to a more open, transparent environment where IT decision making is back in the hands of the users.

One thing we can be certain of in 2014 is that our cloud partners, such as Google, Amazon Web Services, Salesforce.com and NetSuite – will continue to innovate and deliver new features at an unrelenting pace and will fundamentally disrupt the status quo. Put another way – if you’re currently trying to innovate using installed software and desktop management, you might want to look at something new for your organisation as 2014 becomes the “season of light” for Cloud Computing!

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