Monday, January 05, 2009

2009 Outlook: Cloud-y

Just as the world was learning about, creating a strategy for, and releasing 1,000 different tools for "Cloud Computing" in 2008 - I predict we'll see more of it in 2009.

Certainly, all the "big" players have announced their strategies - Google, Amazon, Adobe, Microsoft, Salesforce, Sun, etc. - but so far, the thing that's really lacking is some kind of cohesive standard or at least even parity with one another. The big problem is that everyone is convinced they have the "perfect" platform for cloud computing.

I'm sure in their minds they do. They've spent a lot of time and money figuring out how their offering would get some traction in the marketplace and, most importantly of all, gain developer mind share and get people who will actually use it.

They are so vastly different in the way they define things - from Google and their Gears product to Adobe and the Flex/Flash combo to Microsoft's Mesh. It's sort of all over the place.

Some take the approach that they'll just be the host (Amazon), some want to help enable online/offline browser-based apps (Google, Adobe), others think that the platform IS the platform (Microsoft, Salesforce) - and still, no one has come up with a way to actually build and deploy browser-based application in an easy, repeatable, flexible and seamless way (unless of course you count Servoy).

I think we'll see some great improvements in the tool sets and the capabilities of "cloud" vendors. It's just too much of a cluster to try to create (D)HTML and JavaScript applications that run on a server and also on your machine (not to mention all the "moving parts" required. End users want flexibility. Developers want standards-based stuff they can re-use their current skill set with. Bean counters want everything to be free or cheap.

So I think 2009 will continue to be a year of convergence, and in a down economy (at least until Q4) - the pressure of having to do more with less could either help cloud vendors or it might just backfire and cause developers to retreat into "what they know" in order to preserve their jobs.

Only time will tell.

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