What might set this generation of technology users apart from previous ones is not that they have to adjust to change in order to keep up with the progress of innovation – every successive era has seen widespread paradigm shifts that demanded acclimation. Instead, the distinguishing factor for this generation could be the knowledge that technology, and even the notion of progress, are likely to shift rapidly, turn over several times and demand that organizations keep up. Depending on one's vantage point, disruptive technologies can be viewed as a chance to elevate a business model to a tier above their peers, as obstacles that must be dealt with, or as all part of the game of competing in a fast-paced, high-pressure environment. One thing is certain – the way things are done right now is not likely to be the same, or even resemble its predecessor models, in the future.

It is with this sentiment in mind that enterprise clouds pose an interesting case study. While many innovations arise to fulfill a need and others to drive progress, the cloud does both. Its disruptiveness and rapid ascent can make it difficult to forecast its next moves. That makes it all the more interesting that InfoWorld contributor David Linthicum decided to project what the enterprise-class cloud computing environment will look like three years down the road. He offered some positive predictions:

1) Governance
As more businesses integrate core operations needs, like IT, into IaaS clouds, it will engender a growing need for management, Linthicum wrote. Automation is likely to further displace manual management, while services and APIs will increasingly be consolidated into more navigable networks.

2) Security
Data protection will be largely "baked in" at this point, stated Linthicum. Cloud service providers will offer premium security services, including those increasing federated identity management and interoperability standards. "Centralized trust" could be a new buzzword in this tradition, Linthicum suggested.

3) Data tiers
As big data becomes increasingly prioritized, and owing to the monstrous growth likely over the next three years, structuring and standardizing data storage will become more important. Private cloud use will grow as data needs require more protective oversight.

As with any maturing technology, the outlook isn't completely rosy. Writing for TechTarget, Linthicum highlighted a potential future risk factor:

4) Self-defeating non-innovation
Linthicum examined several characters, including the innovating non-starter and the ignorant strategist, who could pop up as the enterprise cloud matures and derail its successful adoption for their organizations. Learning about the cloud's offerings, SLAs and IaaS capacity before engaging in the cloud can help businesses put themselves on the right track to future growth.