It’s that time of year again. As we enter 2015, it’s time to reflect on the past 12 months and look ahead to what we can expect to see over the next year. For cloud computing in particular, there’s no doubt that 2014 was a significant year. Both Microsoft and Google enhanced their public cloud offerings to compete with Amazon Web Services, investment in cloud solutions increased – as has shadow IT – and the infamous iCloud hack reinforced the ongoing debate about security and governance in the cloud. So what can we expect to see from the cloud over the next year?

According to Gartner, cloud computing is one of the 10 strategic technology trends for 2015. As more enterprises turn to the cloud as their solution delivery method of choice, I predict we’ll see the following five trends rise to the forefront in 2015.

1. Hybrid Cloud To Become Strategy Of Choice

As CIOs continue to be pulled in different directions by employees, cloud providers and customers, organisations are beginning to realise that a single cloud strategy is no long longer sufficient in meeting a variety of needs. We have already started to see CIOs adopt the hybrid cloud as their strategy of choice in 2014 and can expect this trend to continue into 2015, with more companies opting for a cloud strategy that provides them with the ability to provide hybrid cloud services as part of a properly managed and governed IT portfolio.

2. Traditional IT Will Need To Embrace Shadow IT

As employees continue to bring their own devices into the enterprise environment and use cloud services outside of the jurisdiction of IT, we can expect shadow IT to continue to rise above traditional IT. Rather than the traditional approach of ‘shut it down’, organisations will be forced to embrace and find ways to control it, or risk finding themselves increasingly marginalised within the organisation; this is where hybrid cloud comes to the fore. However, first, organisations will need to identify where shadow IT exists, so we expect to see an increase in the creation and adoption of audit tools to support this.

3. Growth In Hybrid Cloud Management Platforms

As CIOs are increasingly pulled in different directions by both cloud hosting providers and employees, they’ll have to make a choice on whether to fight or embrace hybrid cloud in order to maintain IT governance over business data and to deliver compliance to their organisations. However, with fighting hybrid cloud becoming increasingly difficult, we can expect to see a significant increase in the rise of companies embracing hybrid cloud management platforms in 2015.

4. Low Cloud Prices & Increased Adoption

Organisations have still yet to migrate their business-critical workloads to the cloud and, with trust in the cloud still low, this is not going to change in 2015. As a result, we can expect to see the emergence of a hidden glut of infrastructure in the cloud which, in turn, will drive down prices. Managed service providers will also need to work harder to differentiate their cloud offerings, but stand to gain from the impersonality of the public cloud. On the flip side, this is likely to be the much needed catalyst for the bulk migration of mission critical on premise workloads to the cloud.

5. Docker Will Make Inroads

In 2015 we’ll see container technologies, such as Docker, start making in-roads within enterprises and service providers, however the lack of enterprise-class tools and differences in the open source community will still hold back large scale adoption. Nonetheless, we can expect to see companies start to leverage these technologies for real, genuine production workloads due to the cost and efficiency gains such technology offers over traditional hypervisors. The hypervisor itself will not die, but we’ll see a rise in the number of people using both within an enterprise environment, managed by a central management system.

It’s an exciting year ahead, with dependence on the cloud set to increase as it plays and increasingly pivotal role in both our personal and business lives. One thing is for certain: the cloud is here to stay, and as more organisations look to increase flexibility and productivity within their business, we can only expect to see the cloud market continue to mature into 2015, with more and more enterprises and service providers alike, turning towards hybrid cloud to improve business efficiency and reinforce the importance of the IT department.