Gone are the days when capacity hedging was considered the safe way to go. Capacity optimization and management are the mantras of the modern day small and medium business enterprise. Cloud computing is one response to this growing concern with capacity utilization and optimal exploitation. What will be the future of this technology? What will be the scenario in 2015 and beyond?

Gartner is in no doubt that the cloud computing platform will mature. There will be start up shake outs, market consolidation and all the growing pains of an emerging market. Market watchers will note that cutting edge adopters of cloud computing will be a few. Some aggressive organizations may exploit the platform to adopt the model for tactical projects. But, all this will happen in fits and starts, till cloud computing reaches a critical mass and commoditization in 2012 through 2015.

Which are the cloud computing companies that will survive the half decade? The survivors will be those who have built up the capacity to adopt quickly and hit the ground running. providers with strong attractive visions will distinguish themselves from the “also ran” and develop tools that are cloud friendly with deployment features that directly assess and address the growing needs of customers across a spectrum.

As a result, culling will be the order of the day in 2012. Weaker players will be acquired by stronger ones and increasingly attractive tools and services will be offered as mainstream and conservative small and medium business enterprises and even larger ones enter the arena to exploit the potential of the cloud. The return on investment (ROI) timeframes will gradually extend and more and more enterprises will look at services that have two to five year deployments.

Commoditization of services, leveraging of proprietary technologies, and intra-cloud applications will characterize the cloud computing of 2013, with a possibility that host mission-critical applications may hit the market. Cloud computing may be seen as a means of stabilizing IT infrastructures and reducing costs.

But, the real change, Gartner and other market watchers predict, will happen with open source technologies being pressed into the service of the cloud. The open source cloud computing applications will compete with proprietary solutions and will dominate the market beyond 2015. The recent economic recession may act as a push factor that trips up the market and force mass adoption of open source technology. Reliability, scalability and usability on par with proprietary systems will appear to be lucrative buys to small and medium enterprises. The demand estimates and projections will peak as cloud computing services offer service verticals, such as application services, business process services, and Infrastructure services.

The writing is on the wall. It is not the most intelligent who will survive, but the most adaptable. Cloud computing and online backup service providers who watch the market, assess user demand and go with the trend, will be the ones who will enter 2015 as survivors. It is time to ‘walk with your head in a cloud’ and go with the cloud computing vendor who is most likely to adapt, change and move confidently in the next era of cloud computing!