Posted by Bob Muglia
Dec 13, 2016

Last December, I made some predictions for 2016. As we approach the end of the year, I thought it only fair to look back and compare what I predicted to what has happened.

Do or die for big old tech

This was an easy one to get right. Big old enterprise tech companies are hunkering down and watching the world pass them by. HP and Dell are vying to be the king of legacy. There is money in this but who really wants to wear that crown?

IBM is trying to move on with Watson but can Ginni Rometty really pivot that aircraft carrier? And can Watson provide Jeopardy-winning answers for a variety of industries without an army of IBM consultants to spoon feed it? Only time will tell but there is reason to be skeptical.

At Oracle, Larry seems to have discovered the cloud (and will probably soon claim that he invented it). But he remains confused about what a cloud really is. When Oracle talks about Exadata Cloud Service, legacy hardware in a managed services datacenter, they demonstrate they’re still lost in the fog.

Overall, 2016 was not a good year for big old enterprise tech.

Public cloud wins, but who loses?

My prediction on the progress of private clouds was almost an understatement. This year, the move towards private clouds has been slower than molasses on a cold winter day. VMware continues to miss the mark, failing to deliver a cost-effective private cloud solution. And Openstack is a confusing grab bag that requires a huge SI investment, which is beyond the reach of almost all customers.

Meanwhile, almost every company, including most financial services, is now committed to adopting the public cloud. Amazon of course is the big winner but Microsoft has shown once again they will persevere and succeed. Last year, I picked Google as the wildcard. Diane Greene appears to have brought focus to Google and they clearly gained ground in 2016. Google possess the technical capability but they still need to get a lot more serious on the sales side as they have no enterprise experience. A recent query on LinkedIn shows 465 sales openings for Microsoft, 604 sales positions for Amazon, and only 85 open sales roles for Google cloud.  Google can’t compete against Amazon and Microsoft with just 85 more sales people.

The other major public cloud player that has emerged strong in 2016 is Alibaba. China cloud is set to explode in 2017. While it will be tough for Alibaba to gain traction in the US, in China it will almost certainly be the winning player.

All of the other public cloud wannabe’s are in a world of hurt. It looks like we’ll have four public clouds – Amazon, Microsoft, Google and Alibaba.

Spark divorces Hadoop

As I predicted last year, 2016 was not a good year for Hadoop and specifically for Hadoop distribution vendors. Hortonworks is trading at one-third its IPO price and the open source projects are wandering off. IaaS cloud vendors are offering their own implementations of the open source compute engines – Hive, Presto, Impala and Spark. HDFS is legacy in the cloud and is rapidly being replaced by blob storage such as S3. Hadoop demonstrates the perils of being an open source vendor in a cloud-centric world. IaaS vendors incorporate the open source technology and leave the open source service vendor high and dry.

Open source data analysis remains a complicated and confusing world. Wouldn’t it be nice if there were one database that could do it all? Wait, there is one, it’s called Snowflake.

What do Donald Trump and EU bureaucrats have in common?

Looking back at 2016, I guess not much. 2016 is a year that EU bureaucrats would rather forget and The Donald will remember forever.

On the privacy side, we saw some encouraging news with the creation of Privacy Shield. That said,  Privacy Shield is already being challenged and this space remains uncertain. On a purely positive note, Microsoft won the case in Ireland that prevents the US government from grabbing data stored in other countries. The ruling was critical for any U.S. cloud company that has a global footprint.

Perhaps the most encouraging thing from 2016 is that Europe has a full plate given the challenges of Brexit, a Donald Trump-led America, ongoing immigration issues and upcoming elections with strong populist candidates. Given these problems, concerns about privacy are likely to take a back seat so the bureaucrats may be content to stand behind Privacy Shield.

About that wall, Donald hasn’t said too much lately but I think we will see something go up on the border. He loves construction.