Every year I spend time thinking about what changes we will see in technology during the next year. It’s always a tough call as most changes only gain a foothold slowly and gradually over time. They creep upon us so that they become the new normal, stuff that we can’t imagine not having or understand what we did before they became endemic.
Technology changes open opportunities for global business and social change. For example the mass adoption of the Internet has enabled skilled Engineers in the developing world to seek work and execute on it as individuals via oDesk and other sites. Mobile telephony has freed all of us from the enslavement of the corporate desk. We work smarter and differently than we did a decade ago because we can.
Here are my predictions:
Solid State Storage will continue to make an impression on the market as NAND flash prices drop and the Flash Wear issue is seen to be addressed in software and in the NAND dies themselves. Much as I love magnetic storage (I have been involved in storage since the ST506 in 1980) it is old technology, energy hungry and inherently slow. Solid State promised extremely low latency, low power demand and high IOPS (input outputs per second). Ideal for virtualization and complex application workloads that are significantly data driven. Solid state storage will grow very much more rapidly than magnetic storage (which will continue to grow rapidly itself).
Big Data is in its infancy. The idea that we can mine insane amounts of apparently random data that has been collected from the Internet of Things to derive knowledge and insights is new and barely exploited. Social media, traffic sensors, financial transactions, website visits and click streams are all being mined for value. The focus is on the technology to solve the big data problem, but the real problem is the business analysis – what questions should we ask? There are very significant personal privacy issues to be addressed as we progress along this development.
IT Security is bust. We have extremely well-funded, highly skilled criminal and government teams with the best equipment in the world working 24×7 to defeat everything we stand up to protect our systems. The hard shell (firewalls) we throw around our data centers with a soft core are no longer manageable. Too many rules, too many holes, too many vulnerabilities. We now need to protect the data where it lives, leveraging big data analytics to derive normal behaviour and automatically trigger defences to prevent zero day attacks. This is a big problem but one that is seeing active progress and real world solutions.
BYOD is just about done. 2013 will see further developments with the corporate desktop disappearing being replaced with VDI at an increasing rate. This driven by more and more sophisticated and performant solutions that make desktops too expensive and complex to manage. Tablet and smartphone connectivity will also drive application and desktop virtualization at scale. We will see major rollouts in retail, enterprise and at home as telcos and ISP deliver managed DaaS to consumers who are tiring of the world of malware and virus infected home computing.
Consumerization of IT – the consumer experience of tablet and smartphone adoption will continue to influence business. Starting with C-level executives and working down the hierarchy. Vendors such as Dell are fighting back, offering Enterprise customers machines they will actually like and enjoy using. Employees are starting to measure the quality of their IT platforms as part of their employment experience and satisfaction.
Desktop and Application Virtualization is mooted to hit 50M users in 2013 so we are likely to see significant demand for skills and enabling technology in this space.
Data Deduplication moves to Primary Storage – now endemic on backup platforms to deal with the deluge of data that is archived offline. Dedupe is now coming to primary storage with zero latency solutions on the market. Why store duplicate data and use more capacity than needed? Makes no sense at all if there is no performance penalty?
DIY IT continues to migrate to Cloud and Managed Services – the midmarket (firms with less than 1000 employees) are moving at pace to managed services rather than DIY IT driven by the complexity of new systems and the cloud based, multi-tennancy approach of sophisticated MSPs. This is not driven by cost but rather by risk and agility, midmaket customers see a hosted solution as faster to deploy, easier to manage and less risky than doing it themselves.
More aggressive Data Center Designs make progress – Google, Yahoo, Amazon and Microsoft all take an aggressive approach to building and managing data centres, taking out capital on operational costs. This is done by delivering resilience and business continuity into software rather than the physical building itself. Cooling plant moves to fresh air, power resilience to lower cost solutions than UPS and more innovative designs are becoming mainstream.
Software Defined Networking is starting to take hold so that orchestration solutions can leverage server, storage and now network visualisation to enable zero-touch IT.