Once upon a time, life in the enterprise IT shop was fairly simple, at least conceptually speaking.
IT issued computers and laptops to employees, and maintained enterprise software, databases and servers that supported the company, which were mostly run in-house.
These days, IT's basic firmament is giving way to a more breathtaking geography that the IT pro must traverse, based on pay-as-you-go cloud computing, building applications and performing deep data analysis. Perhaps more fundamentally, IT operations are moving from merely supporting the business to driving the business itself, which requires agility and making the most of resources.
Here are three of the largest forces at work that will change enterprise software in 2015, and beyond:
The idea of cloud computing has been around for a while, so it may be hard to think of it as a new force. Yet, after a few years of testing the cloud for running development projects and tangential applications, enterprises are now moving their more critical operations to the cloud.
IDC expects that by 2017 organizations will spend 53.7 percent of their budgets on cloud computing, and the market for cloud computing software will be over $75 billion.
Concerns about security and overall cost continue to fade as businesses face the upgrade costs of replacing data centers full of servers, or stare down the large up-front costs of implementing a complex in-house enterprise software system.
Travel information provider Lonely Planet is one Web-facing company that has made the jump into cloud services, migrating all of its operations to Amazon hosted services when its data-center lease came to an end.
"With Amazon, we could treat infrastructure as code," said Darragh Kennedy, head of cloud operations for Lonely Planet. Instead of worrying about how many servers to lease, the company could concentrate on perfecting its service, with Amazon quickly and easily providing however many servers are needed for seamless service.
"Our product owners can stand up a new environment in under 10 minutes, and that really speeds up how quickly we can build new products," Kennedy said.
Amazon Web Services got a head start in the cloud services space, but Microsoft is quickly catching up with its Azure service, according to Gartner.
Other enterprise-focused IT companies quickly ramped up their cloud-computing operations this year. IBM and Hewlett-Packard, have each earmarked $1 billion to building out their cloud-computing services.
Complicating the best laid cloud migration plans has been the sudden emergence of Docker, a new, lighterweight, form of virtualization that promises greater portability and faster performance.
Launched in 2013, Docker has been downloaded over 70 million times. The major cloud service providers, including Google, IBM and Microsoft, all spun up their own, and sometimes proprietary, Docker-based services.
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