11 cloud trends that will dominate 2016

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Five industry insiders predict the trends that will shape the cloud market this year.

Along with social, mobile and analytics, cloud technologies and models have earned a place as one of the core disruptors of the digital age. And while the cloud market has matured over the years, its interaction with the rapidly growing data and analytics landscape suggests there are plenty more disruptive opportunities for cloud in 2016. As 2016 gets underway, five insiders share their predictions for what 2016 holds in store for the cloud.

[ Related: It’s a hybrid cloud world, and we’re all just living in it ]

Dustin Smith, Sr. Product Marketing Manager at business intelligence and analytics company Tableau Software predicts:

  • It's a data land grab. The race is on for your data, Smith says. From Salesforce to Amazon Web Services, the big cloud players want organizations everywhere to move their data into their ecosystems — and not just typical internal data assets either. Data from web platforms like Workday, Zendesk, as well as from machines and devices are now prime targets for the cloud giants. "Are we surprised? Not especially," Smith says. "Data assets are now to companies what oil resources are to nations. This means that any cloud service provider looking to cement themselves as a mission critical foundation for companies needs to make a play for all of an organization's data on their platform. The idea of a building an enterprise data lake in the cloud has already begun to take hold. It's especially attractive given cheap storage options that cloud players provide as well as the always attractive zero capital expenditure of hosted solutions. Companies that have already taken the step of moving their data warehouses to the cloud will be especially open to easy paths for including non-traditional (but increasingly vital) data sources in ever-scalable platforms. This could include everything from internet of Things (IoT) assets to social media metrics — all with the intent of building an increasingly connected analytics view of a company's resources and customers."
  • Big companies go cloud in a big way. "The tipping point is upon us," Smith says. "Cloud adoption is well past the perception of something that "only startups do." Large enterprises from every conceivable industry are transitioning their entire infrastructure and data ecosystems into the cloud. In an effort to do everything from offer better in-store customer service to fully leverage advances in manufacturing, companies from even most traditional and change-resistant sectors are seeing the writing on the wall: Cloud technology strategies cut cost and risk. That messages is impossible to miss, especially as CIOs peer five years into the future and the alternative of massive unsustainable overhead stares menacingly back."
  • Cloud analytics helps IT. Keeping tabs on cloud deployment costs, and their capacity to expand rapidly, will lead IT leaders to rely on powerful analytics solutions that are on-hand all the time, Smith says. "If a prime lure of cloud technology strategies is cost reduction and efficient resource utilization, then CIOs must be able to verify that they're getting those benefits. Cloud analytics solutions that allow for digging into both usage and billing data will give IT leaders the power to quickly spot potentially costly services and prevent budget overruns. And they'll be able to do it all from mobile devices, in the middle of meetings.
  • Moving data to the cloud gets closer to copy/paste. Self-service data integration and data prep solutions may have been the rage in 2015, but 2016 will be all about simple methods for pushing data from inside organizations as well as from Web platforms into cloud data ecosystems, Smith says. "With self-service cloud analytics and data prep now a reality, the chance of letting an individual move data into a cloud ecosystem quickly and easily (and without a technical background) is on the horizon," he says. "Simple solutions that largely decouple the complexity of data integration, staging, and transformation and focus solely on letting business users drop data into preferred cloud databases and warehouses are on their way."
  • Hybrid cloud strategies get easier. "One foot in the cloud and one foot on the ground? When it comes to a technology roadmap, this largely lost the "playing safe" stigmata and is now openly accepted as the right path for some organizations," Smith says. "As a result, solutions and services built to support this model will bloom like never before. Everything is always in transition. Even for companies that want to be "all-in" when it comes to cloud adoption, it's not always possible. Legacy solutions, compliance and a host of issues can keep a portion of an IT roadmap anchored on premise. Still other organizations prefer it that way. The big cloud club has slightly eased its "if you're not all cloud you're doing wrong" messaging and started to openly build practices around supporting hybrid deployments. This in turn validates smaller solution players already catering to this need in the market, and will undoubtedly encourage additional entrants into the space. Make no mistake though, this is not a polarity shift in the momentum of organizations adopting a cloud approach. If anything, the fact that hosted infrastructure giants are softening their messaging (somewhat) on the hybrid approach merely signals their confidence of the existing momentum already in their favor."
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