I have been writing about cloud computing for almost five years now. As the 2000s were the age of devices, with the rise of the iPhone and iPad, so this decade is the decade of cloud.
That's not only my view. It's also the view of Red Hat (RHT). Best known as an operating system company, it is steadily reinventing itself as a cloud software company.
But we're still early in the game. The big bucks remain in public clouds, like those of Amazon.com (AMZN) and Google (GOOG). These have proven their worth and will remain the cost leaders for the foreseeable future.
Chief Information Officers, or CIOs, now know these systems can be trusted for rapid scaling of new workloads. They understand how this power can be integrated with their enterprise systems, but they have not been ready to abandon those enterprise systems for the economics of cloud. Instead they have been cutting hardware costs with virtualization from companies like VMware (VMW), squeezing out some hardware costs in their data centers, reducing the need for high-end servers from Dell (DELL) and HP (HPQ).
But now they seem ready to bite the software bullet, or at least Red Hat believes they are. The company has been positioning itself for several years to take advantage of this "private cloud" - enterprise systems run as clouds in existing data centers - and "hybrid cloud" - enterprise data centers connected to public clouds - and says the time to make it happen has come.
The company's lucky 13 predictions for 2013 are all about this transition. The company plans to release pieces about each item on the list, detailing the implications, but they were nice enough to share some highlights:
This will be the year of OpenStack, with initial sponsor Rackspace (RAX) joined in the public cloud market by a host of hardware companies - Dell and HP among them - as well as phone companies and ISPs.
The race to build platforms on OpenStack heats up. The race to create platform as a service based on open source is going to accelerate. RedHat's entry here is called OpenShift, and it's designed to turn its Red Hat Enterprise Linux and JBOSS middleware into essential elements in this platform.
Hardware and software start to compete. Red Hat bought an open source project called Gluster last year and in 2013 it will start to become competitive with network attached storage systems from HP, EMC (EMC) and IBM (IBM). Right now it's a low-end solution, but in time it will scale.
The multi-hypervisor data center. Red Hat is backing the KVM hypervisor. Market leader VMware has its vSphere hypervisor. There are other hypervisors out there, and they are going to have to start interoperating. Once that happens, the public and hybrid cloud markets can really take off.
Red Hat is well-positioned here, which is why I picked up 50 shares earlier this year. They're going into the portfolio next to the IBM I put away several years ago, which have now doubled in value. I expect another doubling in time, as cloud replaces the data center.
But as I said at the top, we're still in the early innings of all this.