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Editor's Note - It’s nearly time to say goodbye to 2013 and welcome a new year. What better time to look back at all that was accomplished in the past 12 months and think ahead at how those innovations and trends might drive our future?

At Red Hat, it’s become a bit of a tradition on this blog for us to reflect on the state of our business and industry at the end of each year. This week, we'll be publishing a series of "prediction" blog posts with input from leaders throughout Red Hat, including members of the executive team, business unit leadership, product line directors, and open source community leaders. We are kicking off the week with thoughts from Brian Stevens, and will wrap things up on Friday with a post from Red Hat president and CEO, Jim Whitehurst.

We’d also love to hear what YOU predict for the year ahead! Tweet us and tag your post with #redhat, or drop us a note at

1) Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) will begin to converge.
Many in the IT industry find comfort in classification. In the cloud world, we talk discretely about “infrastructure” clouds (IaaS) and “platform” clouds (PaaS). The former (IaaS) is relegated to largely serving up virtual machines and storage blocks, while the latter (PaaS) is focused on applications and application services. The truth is, these distinctions will become blurry as 2014 evolves, and soon, labeling products and public clouds will be a futile exercise.

2) Operating system containers emerge to drive IT utilization and application management.
Virtualization drove server utilization up by an average of 5-10x by decoupling the single application per system relationship. The next era of utilization will be delivered through operating system containers. This will provide the ability of the operating system to isolate applications and all of their dependencies from other applications, as well as conflicting dependencies while, at the same time, being able to govern the resources needed in order to deliver predictable performance.

3) BYOD gives way to BYOC.
As if IT didn't have enough to think about when it comes to supporting associates and their phones and tablets of choice, the coming year will continue the internal adoption of both public cloud-based applications (including SaaS) and in-house deployments of private clouds targeted at specific use cases. This will give way to a whole new set of integration and support challenges for IT.

4) Big data moves from batch to real-time response.
Consumers and business alike are creating data at an amazing rate. By some estimates, the world's generated data is doubling every two years! Turning a problem upside down, the industry is learning how to extract knowledge from these massive data stores, and using it to shape many aspects of their business. Evolving at an equally rapid rate are the tools used to process and analyze the data. The batch models of Hadoop Map/Reduce will be joined by an ever increasing set of tools which return answers in seconds and minutes, instead of hours and days. The implications of these tools could be profound.

5) Fast-IT experiments shadow their way into the enterprise.
Forklift upgrades are the bane of IT departments. Rolling out complicated, interwoven, whole stack solutions typically comes with long delays, high costs and often a raft of unexpected side effects. Increasingly enterprise IT will look to pilot continuous integration and continuous deployment methodologies which will enable them to roll out asynchronous features with less churn.

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