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Linux, Cloud and Appliances: Five Predictions for 2011



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January 5, 2011 10:42 am

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by Michael Applebaum, director of solution and product marketing

With 2011 fully upon us, let’s take a look at what the industry should expect in 2011.  The past year was as full of business and technical innovations as any in memory, and there’s no reason to expect less from 2011.

1. Virtual appliances become a stepping stone to the cloud: Software vendors eager to offer on-demand application services find a simple solution that doesn’t require the time and expense of re-architecting applications.  Enter virtual appliances, which are already being used by software vendors like VMware, IBM and SAP. The need for simpler deployment and the demand for cloud-based options are driving major ISV interest in virtual appliances, which are optimized, pre-configured virtual workloads. In 2011, 25 major ISVs will use virtual appliances as a fast and painless way to meet the demand for cloud-based application delivery (SaaS), and Linux will be a key enabler of this approach.

2. Every CIO will be impacted by stealth cloud deployments that disrupt the business: Despite the executive interest in private clouds, grassroots adoption of public cloud services continues accelerating (growing 27% annually to $55 billion in 2014), often in the form of stealth deployments.  IT leaders should proactively plan for non-sanctioned cloud deployments to develop problems that impact the business, and determine how they will provide enterprise capabilities after the fact for such workloads – security, backup, availability and performance monitoring.  Whether it’s a CRM application that began small and grew in importance, or a custom-built application that became integral to customer or supplier relationships, every CIO will be blindsided in 2011 by a cloud-based application that suddenly impacted business performance, which will result in 20% of them losing their jobs.

3. High performance computing (HPC) in the cloud fuels a billion dollar market: As enterprises explore public cloud computing, HPC workloads in the cloud will take off.  Existing HPC customers as well as organizations that could never afford it will be attracted by the affinity between public cloud (IaaS) services and the needs of many HPC workloads.  Scientific and business workloads requiring massive computational power to crunch large sets of data in parallel, for limited time periods, are an ideal match for the scalability of IaaS services.  With providers like Amazon offering credible commercial solutions, enterprises realizing massive time-to-market and cost benefits, and Linux exercising its HPC and cloud leadership, HPC in the cloud will be on fire by the end of 2011, driving a billion dollar market within three years.

4. Agile technologies survive natural selection; inflexible ones go extinct: Siloed technologies and vendors delivering value in only one part of the organization will face natural selection.  They’ll be forced to grow broader or be relegated to niche roles on the path to extinction.  To fight off extinction, vendors will start delivering more flexible and feature-rich solutions, because customers’ IT environments are more diverse, more dynamic and face greater demands.  Expect a new generation of platforms and tools that effortlessly support multiple hardware architectures, virtual platforms, cloud environments and form factors – and enable migration between them.

5. Private cloud computing drives the last chapter of UNIX to Linux migrations: As private cloud computing takes off, enterprises will invest more in flexible infrastructure that can be easily adjusted, migrated and repurposed to meet changing needs on demand. This means software needs to run nimbly on diverse hardware and virtual and cloud environments – just the opposite of a siloed, inflexible approach.  If this dichotomy sounds familiar, it’s because it characterizes the UNIX vs. Linux contrast.  Now nearly a decade old, the industry move from UNIX to Linux continues unabated, with Gartner predicting that 30% of remaining UNIX applications will be migrated to Linux on x86 in the next few years.  With every conceivable workload, Linux is replacing UNIX as the workhorse of the data center.  In fact, we believe Gartner is being conservative and fully 60% of remaining UNIX workloads will move to Linux in the next two years.

    What do you think?  Where do you see Linux, cloud computing and virtual appliances going in 2011?

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