Symform 2012 Predictions Scorecard: 2 out of 5 Isn’t Bad

It’s that time of year again. As we recover from the holidays and our relatives, it’s time to sit back and ponder what lies ahead.  So, here at Symform we put together our list of 2013 predictions for the world of cloud, data management and storage/backup.  And to keep ourselves honest, we took a look back at what we thought was going to happen in 2012. A year ago, we forecasted that 2012 was truly going to be the year of “data”, and the year the “green” cloud was debunked.  I give us an “A” on those two, but we missed the mark a bit on others, which I’ve scored below!

1.  2012 will mark the beginning of a “cloud storage revolution.” 

Okay, I admit this one was a bit self-serving, since we are trying to drive a cloud storage revolution.  But, beyond the headline, our point was that continued accelerated data growth for businesses of all sizes would bring big changes to cloud storage.  More options would enter the market, acquisitions would accelerate, and the economic imbalance between on-premise and cloud storage would start to decline. What happened?  We saw major players enter the cloud storage market, and aggressive pricing cuts by those vendors as well.  We also saw more people using the cloud for data storage and backup, not to mention collaboration and sync, from consumers to large enterprise.

2.  The “green” data center for cloud computing will be debunked

My personal favorite, because I spend a lot of time talking about the infrastructure behind cloud computing.  At the time we wrote this prediction, however, I felt like I was the only one talking about this and questioning the record build out of data centers for cloud solutions.  However, a highly publicized report by Greenpeace brought this topic to the forefront.  Its “How Green is your Cloud” report included a green index of the major cloud providers, and the media jumped on this.  Then, the New York Times added fuel to the fire with its investigative report called “Power, Pollution and the Internet”.  While some data center pundits called baloney on this report, it again brought to attention the question of whether we really need so much centralized infrastructure to power cloud platforms.

3.  IT solution providers will focus on augmenting current service portfolios with innovative cloud offerings.

This one wasn’t a complete fail, but we didn’t hit the bull’s eye either. Many IT service providers in the channel did embrace the cloud and start to build their own innovative solution sets around multiple solutions.  I can think of a couple that created “data protection” suites that encompassed anti-virus, web security tools, and data backup.  But that wasn’t the norm. MSPs and IT consultants continue to worry about the cloud replacing them or making them less valuable.  Also, as prices continue to decline, there is concern about maintaining decent margins when selling cloud solutions.  The reality is that companies are going to use the cloud whether IT providers are involved or not, so why not drive the adoption and build value-added services around those solutions?

4.  2012 will be a wake-up call for SMBs to reassess current storage and backup practices.

We really thought smaller companies would “get it” in 2012.  And in talking to our many resellers there were some advancements in this area. However, many small business owners continued to put their heads in the sand when it came to protecting and backing up critical business files.  Hurricane Sandy and other natural disasters did bring this to a head, and hopefully this year, disaster recovery and data backup will become just part of normal business best practices.  We really don’t want to meet any more CEOs taking corporate files home each night on their USB drive.  Besides, they wouldn’t all fit on one stick anyway.

5.  Enterprises will move beyond the public versus private cloud debate to focus on creating and participating in trusted cloud networks.

While most enterprises still are trying to embrace private clouds, we did see some positive movement in the trusted cloud direction.  Helping this were strong new community cloud ecosystems, like OpenStack and CloudStack, backed by leading IT vendors.  We also saw big enterprise vendors, like HP, start to push their clients more toward acceptance of public cloud systems. So while we don’t deserve a green check on this one, the general direction is on course, and we’ll see this play out even more in 2013.

Overall, we did fairly well predicting major steps in tech last year.  However, there were a few we missed, like how big Big Data and Hadoop would become or how Big Data and Cloud would become joined at the hip in nearly every conversation. Also, no one could have predicted the number of outages by some of the biggest and most trusted cloud platforms.  2013 is bound to be an exciting year in our industry, and for a look ahead you can read what we think are going to be the big movers and shakers this year in our 2013 Predictions.