[UBER-DISCLOSURE: These thoughts or predictions offer no insight or insider-knowledge from my current employer. This discussion is strictly from my own thoughts, based on publicly available information]
I tried this last year when I was working for a different vendor and it turned out reasonably accurate. Granted, when you make predictions as a vendor you tend to be aligned to your company's existing strategy (see here and here) and you don't take much risk. So this year I'll do it on this site and see if we can create some more interesting discussions.
People Movements: 2010 was a big year for people leaving IT jobs or VARs to work for vendors, especially around Integrated Stacks. In 2011 I expect there to be continued movement of people in those directions, but maybe a few more to Service Provider companies that offer Cloud services to Enterprise and Commercial sized companies. The more interesting thing I expect to see in 2011 is 5 or 6 well-known, influential people from established hardware vendors moving to public cloud companies. These types of changes always cause people to pause and reset their thinking about the bigger picture.
Acquisitions: 2010 was dominated by Storage M&A, with companies like EMC and HP spending a couple $Billion to get in front of the constant growth of digital information. In 2011, with all the major players (Oracle, HP, Cisco, EMC, Microsoft) growing more competitive, I expected to see several $10B+ acquisitions as well as the possibility that one of those companies buy one of the major online platforms (eg. Salesforce.com). Many people will say that those actions would break the established rules of vendor/partner/distribution/customer, but I suspect that 2011 will be the beginning of many of those long-standing rules getting broken. Competition in this space is not for the faint of heart. Buckle up...
Services: 2010 saw software companies making inroads with hardware offerings (Oracle/Sun Exalogic, Microsoft on-site Azure) and hardware companies building integrated stacks (Vblock, FlexPod, HP Matrix, Dell VIS), leaving some SIs and VARs to wonder where they would continue to add value to customers. As I mention in my post on hybrid cloud, there are multiple opportunities to guide customers if they choose to transition to new IT models. In 2011, I expect one major SI/VAR will create a practice that provides "virtually local" services, but are really leveraging public cloud services. They will begin to find a niche where costs are significantly less (CapEx) vs. competitors. This won't be for all customers, but there will be plenty of them willing to accept "good enough" in exchange for lower upfront costs. These SI/VARs will look for ways to drive ongoing "affiliate revenue" by fronting the public cloud services with these virtually local offerings.
Marketing: 2010 not only brought us the Private vs. Public Cloud debates, but went over-the-top with "Cloud in a Box" and "To the Cloud...", campaigns that have drawn the ire from across the technology communities and media. Out of concern about "cloudwashing", I'm predicting that you'll see several vendors back away from the use of "Cloud" in 2011 marketing campaigns. Google has already started doing it with their 100% web campaign and I expect that you'll see more variations on this from vendors of all sizes. I wonder if I should trademark "as-a-service ready"?
Public Clouds chase the $$: Based on some 2010 estimates, the Public cloud markets have not yet driven huge revenues (growing quickly, but not huge yet). In 2011, I predict the Public cloud providers will step up their efforts to directly target the Enterprise (not backdoor via developers) with "Enterprise-ready" features and portfolios in attempts to grab a much larger piece of the overall IT pie. But if they are targeting CIOs or VP-level decision-makers, I suggest they read this first.
Virtual Desktops: Back in 2009, I wrote that maybe the Virtual Desktop movement had hit a snag, with 2010 being "the year of VDI" if it got the right marketing efforts. Another year has passed and now people are saying that 2011 will actually be the year of VDI. I suspect that in 2011 the VDI debate is going to be very contentious. Another year of "...this is the year of VDI" will push many CIOs to question if they shouldn't begin looking at a very different model. VDI better get it's act together in 2011 if it wants any more headlines.
OK, that's enough predictions for the upcoming year. They might be right or they might be wrong, but hopefully they aren't too boring. Let me know what you think, or if any of those will have a positive effect on your 2011. Happy New Year!!