2010 tech forecasts: What the accurate analysts predict

New-year predictions are often iffy, but these firms were pretty accurate in their 2009 calls. Will they be right again?

SLAs are coming to the cloud It doesn't take a weatherman to know which way the winds of cloud computing are blowing, so predictions of continued growth in 2010 garner no extra credit in this class. However, analysts William Fellows and Antonio Piraino of the 451 Group make some thought-provoking points in their look at cloud computing in the new decade.

Coming after a year when outages angered users of Microsoft/T-Mobile Sidekick, Gmail, and PayPal, businesses will demand more accountability from cloud providers, they say. And as basic cloud services become more of a commodity, vendors will strive to differentiate themselves by packaging products and services together to target horizontal application uses, vertical and geographical markets, and specific compliance requirements.

"So far, the main applications going up on the cloud are Web 2.0 and databases, QA, T&D [test and development], batch, and disaster recovery. We expect analytics, workspace environments (integrated e-mail, portal, messaging, remote meetings, etc.), HR, and a wave of virtualized 'cloud-ready' (remember 'HDTV-ready'?) applications will be leading cloud candidates in 2010," say Fellows and Piraino.

Focusing on security in the cloud, Forrester's Jaquith figures that "concerns about data protection will lead to in-cloud encryption -- with customers holding the keys. Fears of multitenancy will give rise to private and dedicated clouds. Security policies across cloud-based VMs will become fully portable, able to be applied seamlessly across premises-based and cloud-based resources."

IDC's chief analyst Frank Gens expects IBM and Microsoft to join the cloud battle (good call) and admits to sticking his neck out a bit: "SAP may decide it needs to acquire more pure-play cloud assets to hedge its current cloud strategy and accelerate its expansion in the cloud." There's reason to believe he may be right. SAP has had little success developing its own cloud platform (along with its failure to develop a working small-business ERP strategy), so it could well try to recover some momentum with a cloud computing strategy.

Gens, by the way, has this overall perspective on the coming year: "2010 will be a year of modest recovery for the IT and telecommunications industries. But the recovery will not mean a return to the pre-recession status quo. Rather, we'll see a radically transforming marketplace -- driven by surging demand in emerging markets, growing impact from the cloud services model, an explosion of mobile devices and applications, and the continuing rollout of higher-speed networks."

Social media finally enters the enterprise Nearly everybody figured that IT spending growth would plummet in 2009. And it did, of course. Given what had happened to the economy by the end of 2008, that call was the proverbial no-brainer.

But IDC, which is owned by InfoWorld's parent company IDG, was ahead of the curve with a prediction that "the crumbling of the 'business/personal' wall in IT will accelerate, as the economy and the 2.0 culture drive consumer and business technology together, opening new opportunities and threatening to create new IT industry dinosaurs." There was no better example then the penetration of the iPhone and other smartphones into the enterprise, creating major headaches and cultural disconnects for IT while opening up news ways to work.

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