1. Hybrid arrives – not as a strategy but as the result of many discrete decisions. Sources ranging from Consumption Economics to (many) vendors would have us believe that businesses decide on a cloud strategy first, and then layer new workloads on top of whichever platform they select. The reality is very much different – Techaisle research shows that businesses make platform decisions on a workload-by-workload basis, and that over time this results in companies supporting a mix of public cloud, private cloud, hybrid cloud, and on-premise products. The result is that public, private and on-premise are all part of the mix...and that an ability to manage hybrid infrastructure will become a key corporate IT requirement in 2015.

2. Collaboration becomes a much bigger concept. In years past, "collaboration" was a big-company issue in which IT professionals used something called "presence" to connect staff to each other. What a quaint time that was! In 2015, this concept of collaboration will be swept into the dustbin of history. In 2015, it will become clear that collaboration spans files and people, staff and customers. It includes file exchange and multi-point editing; it extends beyond the corporate staff (and as a result, beyond large enterprises) to include customers; it has broken through the corporate walls, and demands support for mobility. In fact...

3. Collabmobilicloud becomes a management reality. There is a tendency in the press and in vendor product literature to treat collaboration, mobility and cloud as separate solutions. There is a tendency from the user perspective to treat them as aspects of a single approach to accessing, working with and sharing information. The users pay the bills, and in 2015, their perspective will predominate. Collaboration initiatives are part of mobility strategies, mobility is at the core of collaboration initiatives, and both are dependent on the cloud. This will have a major impact on application development...

4. UX, not DevOps, is the key 2015 application development trend. We keep reading about how DevOps (and PaaS) will dominate application development in 2015. We do not believe it, at least for this coming year. User experience is going to be the most important issue in applications: delivering a user-friendly, consistent, easy-to-navigate-and-consumer-experience across desktop, laptop, tablet, phablet and smartphone screens with different screen sizes and dimensions, and based on different operating systems.

5. Connected security becomes "security". At one point, there was a debate in the security world - What was better – unified threat management (UTM) systems that ensured that there are no cracks between security products, or best-of-breed (BoB) products that could evolve as quickly as the threat landscape itself? BoB won that debate decisively; in fact, what used to be called "UTM" is now referred to as "next-generation firewalls," one of many important "shields" around enterprise data, applications and users. However, with the expanding threat perimeter (caused in no small part by the trends towards hybrid and collabmobilicloud), 2015 is time to take a fresh look at how to ensure that all of the aspects of security infrastructure are integrated to protect against intrusion.

6. BYOD – more a story than a choice. The expanding threat perimeter is sometimes blamed on bring your own device (BYOD) policies, which are in turn supposed to be the subject of internal debate. But hey – next year is 2015. It is time to stop pretending that there are alternatives to BYOD. Employees will bring their devices (and with the trends in collaboration, customer devices will also become part of the supported device community). BYOD is a reality, not a subject of debate.

7. "Cloud Orchestration" is everybody's problem. In cloud circles, "orchestration" has two meanings: technical orchestration within an IT operational process, and orchestration of multiple applications into a coherent, multi-application software infrastructure. In 2015, both will become more prominent. The latter definition especially will come to dominate IT discussion: as more and more SaaS applications are used by the business, there will be more benefits to connecting them, more requirements to secure them, more exposure (in terms of both lost benefit/agility and security) associated with the management of them. This will largely be an IT responsibility, but not entirely, because...

8. The BDM becomes the KDM for cloud business applications. Okay, this is pretty easy, since we are just describing a transition that is mostly complete. Techaisle research shows that business decision makers (BDMs) are responsible for SaaS business application purchases in over 70% of US SMBs today; they, and not IT managers, are the "KDMs" (key decision makers) driving SaaS adoption. In 2015, it will become even clearer that IT can't gate the introduction of new task automation software.

9. IT bifurcation. If IT can't preside over the introduction of new business technology, what is its role? In 2015, we will start to see that the concept of "the IT department" will start to splinter. First up, we will see a distinction between IT-as-an-important-force-in-driving-corporate-strategy and IT-as-a-supplier-of-management-and-integration-services. The former will spend much less time on "IT" than "business strategy". The latter group will likely divide again, with one part focused on connecting business applications together so that "task automation" becomes "process, department and/or enterprise automation," while a second group focuses primarily on on-premise product acquisition, configuration, deployment and support. Both of these approaches, though, will be subject to intense cost pressure, as outsourcing to the channel will become an attractive option.

10. In the channel, the ability to manage recurring revenue streams will separate the "viable" from the "ready for consolidation". Many members of the channel recognize that acting as a managed service provider (MSP) and/or participating in provisioning of cloud services is important to the future...but many do not really know how to transition from their current model to an approach predicated, at least in part, on recurring revenue contracts. In 2015, we will start to see a firm separation between channel members that have the sales, technical and management structures needed to combine recurring and traditional business models and those that do not. By the end of the year, we will start to refer to the latter group as "struggling," "acquired" or "on their last legs."

11. Big Data is still long on promise but a bit short on real application. Firms are investing in data scientists, assembling data, and rolling out proof-of-concepts in which the insights gleaned by the data scientists from the data deliver stunning new insights to management. Most of these PoCs will fail. Honorable mention, though, to firms that embed Big Data outputs into applications used by customers and/or line staff – we will see some tangible progress in this area in 2015. Businesses will begin to hire Big Data Product managers that connect the dots between sales/marketing, engineering and analytics.

12. IoT – still lots of smoke...but again, the fire is more than a year away. However, because IoT outputs do deliver visible and tangible benefits, the momentum for IoT will start to build in 2015. Privacy and security concerns, data analytics and interoperability will percolate up to the center stage.

13. SDN is still on the horizon. SDN is the future – we keep reading this, and we are pretty well convinced of it ourselves. But, networks are complex, and expensive, and hard to migrate. The longer term signals for SDN are very positive, but 2015 is not the year in which we will see it as the lever that pries billions of dollars' worth of Cisco gear out of data centers.

14. Power and cooling as a business issue. In a lot of ways, cloud is to power and cooling what fracking is to oil: it relieves the immediate pressure to do something substantive about a looming issue. In the case of power and cooling, cloud has made it possible to use IT in vastly more areas of the business without addressing the inconvenient reality that data centers will not support the density required by all of the storage and processing. However, even a hybrid future brings more local demand, and eventually, businesses of all sizes will need to come to grips with how to create an IT environment demanded by on-premise equipment. Fortunately for many of these firms, "eventually" will occur after 2015 concludes.

15. Wearables are approaching prime time, but... We fully expect wearables to create entirely new technology use cases, and to become a critical factor in the UX discussion referenced above. There are simply too many compelling use cases to keep wearables from ascending into the IT mainstream, in both business and consumer contexts. However...there are still some advances needed, in battery technology, in communications capabilities, even in basic materials science, before the wearables future arrives. Wearables will become ubiquitous, but not in 2015!