My friend David Linthicum got into the game early, publishing his list of cloud computing predictions while I was still enjoying my eggnog... others have weighed in with their own list. Since it's still relatively early in 2010, I thought I'd start the year with my own "predictions" list. In no particular order of importance, here they are -
1. Next Generation Cloud Applications Emerge
SaaS isn't going away but if you consider how long SaaS has been around - 10 years or more - it's shouldn't be surprising to see a new generation of cloud applications emerge. This new cloud application model will combine RIA client with true elastic capacity and scale. These aren't changes that are superficial or nominal - first generation SaaS apps built in the age of static web tend to have a stilted user experience. New generation cloud apps will have the rich interactivity of desktop apps and allow users to work in disconnected mode whenever required. Think of where Google Gears has taken us in 2009 and extrapolate forward into 2010 coupled with the benefit of true elasticity which unfortunately many SaaS applications still cannot offer.
2. Business Applications Get Social
It's already happening but the two major technology trends in the past year - cloud computing and social media - will converge, at least conceptually. Enterprise cloud applications will get re-factored with a social dimension. You've seen it emerge with Oracle's Social CRM and Salesforce has up the ante in a big way with Chatter. As enterprises seek to leverage the "power of social" with Twitter, Facebook or Linkedin, it's a natural progression to look at how to build the benefits of social computing into business applications.
3. More Standards for Cloud Computing
Look, I'm not a big proponent of industry standards groups but there's no denying that the need for standards, especially in a number of critical areas like data portability. For cloud computing to take "the next step", the industry will have to make it easier to integrate, move data from one provider to another and enable. All this is going to drive increasing momentum for industry standards. Whether these standards will make lasting impact is another thing altogether.
4. Secondary Cloud Tools Will Emerge
For cloud computing to continue to gain traction beyond the SMB space, vendors are going to have to provide enterprise IT managers with capability for monitoring SLAs, managing change control, securing transactions and orchestrating business processes. It happens everytime - the initial wave of innovation on a new platform is quickly followed by the need for tools to manage and secure the platform. In 2010, expect to see vendors that champion these solutions emerge in a big way.
5. Big Exits for Innovative Cloud Computing Startups.
As bigger players like Amazon, Microsoft, Oracle and Google are competing in the cloud computing arena, they will gobble up smaller innovative companies in the process. Look for vendors that develop the previously mentioned "secondary" tools to be among the targets for these major players.
Here's a bonus prediction: Despite his initial disdain for the hype around cloud computing, don't be surprised if Larry Ellison will get cloud religion and become a leading booster for the space.