Cloud computing in 2013: Two warnings

Yes, cloud computing will grow nicely next year, but no one should expect only smooth sailing

These days, I get email after email from anyone and everyone who has predictions for cloud computing in 2013. I've started to delete them without reading any. Why? They all say very obvious and simplistic things around an industry that is very nonobvious and very complex, if you peel back the layers. Worst of all, because most of the predictions come from technology vendors, their forecasts are annoyingly positive.

This is not to say that cloud computing won't have high growth and high energy in 2013 -- it will. However, not everything will be so rosy, and understanding the negative predictions is important for anyone adopting cloud computing.

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In the spirit of constructive realism, here are my two tragic cloud computing predictions for 2013.

1. The cloud computing price wars will kill the smaller providers in 2013. I don't know if you've noticed, but Amazon.com dropped its prices three times in the last month. Google followed suit, then Microsoft. There is a race to the bottom when it comes to cloud pricing, as the larger providers try to capture as much share as they can of this exploding market.

The downside is that the smaller providers without huge war chests of cash, but with impatient investors, won't be able to make money at the prices that the larger names charge. Many of them will struggle to hang in through the days of low or no cloud computing profits -- and many of them will have to toss in the towel or have the towel tossed in for them.

The good news for the larger providers: Once the smaller providers are pushed out, you can begin to raise your prices. Hmm, it sounds suspiciously like a page from the big-box stores' playbook -- and a warning for cloud adopters not to count on low, low prices as the norm.

2. The cloud computing skills shortage will crater more projects than we expect in 2013. There is a clear lack of cloud computing talent as the market explodes around the relatively handful of cloud geeks available to do the work. As a result, many cloud projects starting this year won't be able to find the cloud architects, developers, security specialists, and others they need to complete the tasks. The lower talent levels available will equate to lower levels of success and to a hindrance of achieving cloud computing's promise.

Of course, everyone and anyone would like to retool their skills for the cloud these days, and eventually the number of qualified candidates will close in on the number of open positions. But I don't think that will occur until early 2015. For the next few years, count on more than a few cloud projects smacking the ground due to pilot error.

Other than these two downsides, we should have a good 2013. I'm looking forward to it.

This article, "Cloud computing in 2013: Two warnings," originally appeared at InfoWorld.com. Read more of David Linthicum's Cloud Computing blog and track the latest developments in cloud computing at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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