Businesses to Watch in 2010; the More Things Change, The More They Stay the Same

Ever get that sense of déjà vu – you know, where you think you’ve been somewhere before, seen something before… but can’t place it?

Well, that’s what CNET Blog Network writer James Urquhart must have felt about his predictions for cloud businesses to watch in 2010: he forecast them already in 2008, and it seems many of the business opportunities haven’t changed, including:

  • Enterprise data conversion for SaaS. The prediction here in 2008 was that businesses would be spending lots of money converting data from existing enterprise applications to SaaS, and that they may have to keep spending to convert data yet again if it turns out they aren’t satisfied with their vendors. Two years later, as most SaaS are built on proprietary database schemes, “I still believe that this will be a major portion of systems integrator revenue around SaaS adoption, especially for “commodity” functions like HR and finance,” said Urquhart.
  • Enterprise Integration as a Service. This is the year that enterprise-class integration services from the likes of Microsoft and IBM will make it onto the cloud, as it’s too important to ignore. Guess it’s a given that there was still a need back in 2008. “Integration will always be necessary, but where/how will it be delivered?” said Urquhart back then.
  • SaaS meter consolidation. In 2008, there was a stated need for consolidation of multiple bills from SaaS vendors to a single invoice – with analytics to break down where the costs came from – so that IT folks at companies running apps on Google, data analysis on Amazon and business logic on could be more efficient and centrally review services used. Don’t bet on this for 2010, either. “This is probably the offering I am least sure will appear in 2010, but there are some signs that people understand the challenge,” said Urquhart.
  • Cloud customer litigation services.
    Two years ago, a Facebook user, Robert Scoble, ran an automated script to collect his social network data. Facebook shut him down. There were a lot of questions back then about who owns what kind of data on public clouds. Not much has changed…there are still unanswered questions. Urquhart adds that cloud malpractice litigators are probably needed today, too.
  • SaaS data ownership rights lobbyist. This could be a lucrative business for those representing either the provider or customer side. So said Urquhart back in 2008, and he believes that 2010 will be the year that cloud providers beef up their lobbying forces. Perhaps the consumer side will get representation, too.
  • System Administrator re-training. In 2008, the cloud was to have put system administrators out of work (or at least give them less to do), and so it was thought that they needed to be retrained to monitor SLAs and to “get good at waiting on hold for customer service representatives,” said Urquhart. Well, that’s happening now, and Urquhart predicts that technology that makes the cloud easy to handle for administrators will design and offer courses in advanced apps.

I’ll add my own penny’s worth of comment to the last item. IT departments can easily use technology to monitor SLAs so that they can re-train their administrators to shoulder some of the more strategic stuff. Goodness knows, I’m sure every overworked IT manager would agree that we could all use some extra help these days.

For example, Monitis’ Universal Cloud Monitoring Framework automates the configuration of external monitoring and server monitoring tools every time a new installation is called for – saving IT managers and system administrators around the world enormous time and hassles.

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  • While SOA took longer to adopt by IT, cloud computing appeared to have a faster acceptance. Even with the faster acceptance, it seems that it is taking longer than I had hoped to see these add-on services emerge. Unfortunately, most of the investment is for Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS), rather than Billing and Operations as a Service.

    Hopefully 2010 will start to see these missing gaps begin to be filled with some nice offerings as James predicts (again).