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2015 Will Be the Year of the Platform By @ServiceNow | @CloudExpo [#Cloud]

2015 should prove to be a bellwether year for the cloud as the platform continues to unleash a new era of B2B innovation

Why 2015 Will Be the Year of the Platform

This past year has continued to see rising enterprise cloud adoption, and with it efforts from tech giants to control the cloud through price wars. Like most things, the path we've taken to this point will certainly impact where the road ahead will lead.

If 2014 was the continued battle for cloud infrastructure, 2015 will be the rise of the cloud platform, as enterprises will focus on creating apps and workflows that take advantage of the growing platform options across enterprise needs such as HR, Financial Services and IT. The rise of the platform will bring with it a variety of other changes - all of which stem from more and more CIOs turning to the cloud to deliver substantial innovation and business results. From verticalization to data as a service, we'll ring in the new year with dramatic changes to the cloud landscape that stand to transform how we view and utilize cloud technologies. Below are five enterprise cloud platform inspired predictions for this coming year.

1. Gravitational forces will pull cloud universes together: As clouds coalesce around sales, HR, financials and enterprise services, we're seeing how these universes are naturally attracting one another. End users will continue to demand the expansive functionality that cloud integration provides - both in shared services and a broader view of their operations and customers. This change isn't just coming from within companies, as cloud vendors can build the requisite connections to draw themselves closer. This is in sharp contrast to the data center era, with fewer technology obstacles to link systems of record. One has to look no further than well-defined REST APIs and common programming languages, such as Java, JavaScript or Perl to provide each cloud universe with a widening and more accessible surface area to connect.

2. A meteoric rise for cloud verticalization: As cloud platforms continue to mature and more organizations are drawn to the financial and innovative benefits, cloud will spur interest from even those industries that have been hesitant in the past. Think of those most beset with regulation, compliance and privacy - such as federal, life sciences, financial or healthcare. While the U.S. government's Cloud First strategy has moved slower than anticipated (with only 2% of 2014 government agency IT budgets having gone to cloud services, according to a report released in September), those agencies that have navigated security and compliance hurdles have delivered real innovation. In this next year, many cloud providers are going to take the necessary steps to receive appropriate industry certifications, creating more platforms designed to align to Sarbanes-Oxley, FDA, HIPAA, FedRamp and others.

3. The CIO will buy services, not compute power: Not long ago, IT teams used to be the administrator of data center infrastructure. However, as the hardware behind the cloud (VMs, KVM, Docker, etc.) continues to become more scalable, connected and increasingly delivered as a service, IT teams will move away from a hardware-centric world of storage space or CPUs. In 2015, we'll see enterprise IT teams buying services to deploy apps or solve business problems. Whether it be adding request management, onboarding employees or purchasing, IT teams will look through the lens of the business services they deliver, not the IT components.

This shift has several implications as the role of the CIO moves away from being associated with broken smartphones, PCs and other hardware. Instead, CIOs will focus on delivering strategic value regarding 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. The evolution won't stop at the top either, as IT staff will need to develop new skills to be conversant in and support business services for a well-rounded team.

4. Data-as-a-Service or Business Intelligence 2.0 will emerge: 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 platform will bring an "agile development" process to business teams: 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, organizations can let their teams rapidly create and test their ideas - in days or weeks instead of months. They can fail or succeed quickly - investing and risking less money. If this sounds familiar, it's because the cloud platform will act almost like a venture capital group, enabling the "Series A" investor within the enterprise. A great example of this kind of valuable innovation is the U.S. Postal Service, which utilized the cloud to spur their 2014 holiday stamp program. In days they built a custom app to streamline postage stamp delivery from two factories to local post offices across the country.

Many of the wheels that contribute to these predictions are already in motion, as we've seen an increased focus on the cloud as an enabler to solve a variety of different business problems. This year, CIOs will recognize the capabilities of the cloud platform, and will use it to create synergies within their organizations across their clouds. Their deployment of rapidly developed applications will drive to real business goals without prohibitive costs while providing enterprise decision makers with a treasure trove of data to analyze. 2015 should prove to be a bellwether year for the cloud as the platform continues to unleash a new era of B2B innovation.

More Stories By Allan Leinwand

Allan Leinwand is the vice president and CTO of Cloud Platform and Infrastructure at ServiceNow, and had been the force behind Zynga’s hybrid cloud efforts. Before Zynga, Leinwand helped found Vyatta, a leader in software-based networking. He also spent several years with Digital Island and Cisco. He served as an Adjunct Professor at the University of California Berkeley.

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