2015: the year in cloud

For over a decade, we’ve helped evolve the landscape of cloud computing. In that time, we’ve seen plenty of changes — and the past 12 months have been no exception. From widespread adoption of containers to multi-cloud applications, 2015 was truly transformational.

Here, we’ve put together our top moments and themes of the year. Take a look, then tell us on G+ and Twitter what story or trend you’d add, using #CloudTop10.

1. Enterprise, meet Cloud.

For most organizations, Cloud is no longer a question of “if,” but “when”— and according to new estimates, it’ll be sooner than you might think: 34% of enterprises report plans to host over 60% of their apps on a cloud platform in the next two years. In anticipation, most vendors have taken steps to support enterprise workloads. Just look at Microsoft Azure’s partnership with HP and Google’s custom machine types.

2. Containers rush into the mainstream.

Even a year ago, many developers hadn’t yet given containers a try. Fast-forward to 2015 and we saw containers used not just in testing — but widely adopted in production. In fact, container adoption grew 5X in 2015 according to a recent survey. How did this happen so quickly? Part of the answer lies in the availability of robust open-source technologies like Docker and the Kubernetes project. With these technologies, vendors have been able to accelerate container adoption — from VMware’s vSphere integration to Microsoft’s Docker Client for Windows and our own Container Engine.

3. Big Data needs big insights.

In 2015, Big Data didn't live up to the hype. In a May survey, 77% of organizations felt their big data and analytics deployments are failing or have failed to meet expectations. Yet while the finding is clear, the cause is complex. Siloed teams, high maintenance gear and the need for better tools certainly play a part in the problem. What’s the solution? Most likely, it lies in making tooling and data more accessible to citizen data scientists — whose deep domain knowledge can unlock its true value.

4. Machine learning for all.

The potential benefits of machine learning has been evident for a while. Now, thanks to the increased processing power of computers and data centers, that potential is finally being realized. To help spur this evolution on, software libraries (like TensorFlow) are being open-sourced. This’ll allow ideas and insights to be rapidly exchanged through working code, not just research papers.

5. The Future of IoT.

When most of us hear “Internet of Things“ (IoT), we think of the consumer: connecting the thermostat to the watch to the TV and so on. Yet surprisingly, the greatest adoption of IoT is happening in the enterprise. By 2019, it’s estimated that the enterprise market will account for 9.1 billion of 23.3 billion connected devices. That means scale of ingestion and stream-based data processing will become a critical part of every IT strategy—and interest in technologies like Google Cloud Dataflow and Apache Spark is spiking accordingly.

6. API as a business gets big.

Providing application services-on-demand to developers is now a validated business model — as evidenced by the presence of “unicorn” businesses, such as Twilio and Okta. Both companies closed rounds in 2015 at valuations north of $1 billion, and both provide services that developers can incorporate in their applications.

7. Hybrid clouds on the horizon.

Multi-cloud architecture isn’t new: it’s been used for years as a backup and disaster recovery solution. What is new is the rate at which we’re now seeing multi-cloud orchestration tools, like Kubernetes and Netflix’s Spinnaker being widely deployed. This choice helps prevent lock-in to any one vendor — and with estimates that 50% of enterprises will have hybrid clouds by 2017, this trend shows no signs of slowing down.

8. Shifts and shut-downs.

As the Cloud Platform landscape evolves, we’re seeing increasing consolidation in the market. In part, this is likely due to the cloud’s tremendous hardware and engineering demands. Still, one of the biggest announcements of the year came when Rackspace confirmed it will shift focus from their own cloud offering to supporting third-party cloud infrastructures. With the news that HP will officially shut down Helion in January, this is one trend that’s sure to continue through 2016.

9. Going green.

Customers have spoken and they want their cloud green. What’s still up for debate, however, is how to bring the environmental efficiency of larger, pan-regional data centers to local ones — which may not have the scale to be environmentally efficient.

10. What’s yours?

What cloud story or trend would you add to our list? We want to hear from you: submit your idea on G+ and Twitter, using the hashtag #CloudTop10.

We’ll review all the entries, then select a story — and author — to be featured on our blog.