Top 18 Trends in Application Software Development for 2014

Note:  The following blog was published in March of 2014.  If you are looking for my 2015 tech trends reports head on over to the post: 2015 Trend Reports Are Now Available

 

Below you will find my list of the top trends in 2014 for application software development along with a information about my latest Application Software Development Trends to Watch in 2014 report that you can download out on slideshare.

Trends in Software Development

The emergence of a new computing era built on a secure platform of mobile, social, cloud, and big data/analytics capabilities is impacting business models and processes.  Keeping pace with new trends such as mobile, big data analytics, and the growing move towards cloud-based systems has brought new and more challenging issues to the forefront of application development.   Application software developers must transform old legacy applications to align with fast changing business needs. In today’s environment, application development teams need increased agility, new skill sets, distributed teams, and more complex software engineering methods.

Here then, is my list of top software development trends for 2014

  1. Innovate for the “Third Platform”:  Legacy is old. Developing on the third platform will accelerate in 2014. However, it requires new skills in Security, Social, Cloud, Mobile, Big Data/Analytics, IoT, HCI, Gamification, and Cognitive Computing.
  2. Use of APIs Accelerates: In 2014, we are going to see a huge leap forward in how APIs are put to use to drive innovation and help organizations be more efficient and profitable.
  3. Designing For Hybrids: Developers must design private cloud services with a hybrid future in mind . Must make sure future integration and interoperability are possible, while securing the enterprise at the same time.
  4. IoT & Embedded Systems: Demand for skilled developers who can develop sense and respond systems and other IoT-based solutions increases.
  5. Integrating Front and Back Office: Growing integration requirements between back office IT and operations – for example with smart physical hardware (pumps, switches etc) capturing info relevant to operations, business management; cyber security; etc.
  6. Secure The Enterprise!: With the advent of distributed systems, mobile, IOT, etc, there is no longer a fixed perimeter to fully protect now. The ‘attack surface’ is now huge. Developers will called upon to secure the enterprise.
  7. Software Defined “Everything”: In 2014, the buzz around Software Defined will increase. Enterprises and service providers force clear definitions . Expect numerous product announcements from vendors.
  8. Application Containers: The next big thing is containerizing and virtualizing the application, not just the machine. Watch companies include Docker and ZeroVM.
  9. DevOps Adoption Accelerates: More than just about automating deployments, DevOps requires cultural change, including coordination, collaboration and trust among the teams that participate in the application lifecycle.
  10. Open Trend Continues: Open Source, Open Standards, OpenStack, OpenFlow, Open Compute, and Open Data.
  11. Crowd Sourcing/Funding: Crowd sourcing of everything. Now projects are crowd sourced and crowd funded. Support is now crowd supplied in places like stack overflow.
  12. Hack Days: Becoming more popular as a way to develop innovative new software and features within a tight deadline.
  13. Hadoop: The Hadoop ecosystem is maturing. Expect a whole new set of real-time analysis capabilities.
  14. HTML5 Growth: Businesses have started to truly understand the advantages (and limitations) of HTML5 in the enterprise. In 2014 we will see a new focus toward the ‘write once, play everywhere’ concept.
  15. Secure Enterprise Mobile Apps: Developers need to roll out more secure alternatives to popular mobile apps. New pressures to make sure all enterprise apps are thoroughly vetted from a software security standpoint.
  16. Application Performance Management: Vendors and their customers increasingly scrambling to address and control under-performing application environments.
  17. Consumerization: Enterprise Developers need to keep an eye on what is being developed for Consumers. That next great consumer device, app, or solution may just be what’s needed for the enterprise.
  18. Skills in Demand: Developers who have deep cloud, mobile, big data/analytics and security development skills will be increasingly in demand . Programming skills valued include: 1. Java / Javascript , 2. C# / ASP.NET, 3. C++, 4. Python, 5. PHP, 6. SQL / MySQL, 7. HTML5 / CSS3, 8. Ruby on Rails, 9. Hadoop, 10. iOS / Android (source: Cybercoders).

 

Ten Popular IBM Smart Service Oriented Architecture SOA Articles

IBM SOA Newletter - July I’m on a distribution list for the IBM Smart SOA and BPM Newsletter, which is a great newsletter (it received a 2009 Hermes Award in the e-newsletter category). 

The June 26, 2010 newsletter had a number of interesting articles, including:

  • How agile companies create and sustain high ROI
  • Connect cloud and on-premise applications
  • Resources for smarter banking

However, the one article that caught my eye was an article titled “Top IBM Smart SOA articles”.  I’ve been interested in Business Process Re-Engineering topics since leading a early-mid 1990’s IBM team on a journey to rewrite and deploy new marketing management processes.  That was a multi-year effort that spanned every division and geography in IBM.  I learned a bunch from that experience about how to architect a business for marketing management processes.

Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) is a great tool that we did not have in the mid 1990’s.  SOA promises to create greater alignment between IT and line of business while generating more flexibility – IT flexibility to support greater business flexibility.   We all know that the explosion of the Internet is creating new business models and this is causing business processes to change faster and faster.  To be competitive, businesses requires the flexibility that SOA can provide. 

The article “Top IBM Smart SOA articles” provides a nice list of the most popular articles (as downloaded by readers).  The list covers a wide range of topics related to SOA and the articles are great reading for any business or IT leader that is passionate about improving business processes.  I’ve summarized the list here for you.

  1. Managing the complexity of business processes  This article discusses an approach to controlling the development and maintenance efforts for business processes by limiting their complexity.
  2. SOA and integration in the cloud bring agility and value down to earth.  Leveraging a cloud-based integration solution delivered as a service provides an easily scalable approach to business integration.
  3. Make a BPM business case and learn 11 habits for success
    Links to two new white papers that help you make a case for BPM and understand how to be successful.
  4. Getting started with BPM: Find the best entry point
    In this article, IBM describes three common entry points to BPM, helping you understand how to get started with BPM.
  5. Advanced case management and BPM: Better together
    This article describes two concepts and how they relate to each other 1) the value that business process management (BPM) brings to the knowledge worker, and 2) the value of the additional technology components behind advanced case management (ACM)
  6. Ideas for innovation from the Smart Work Jam
    This article provides an overview of the highlights and insights as harvested from the Smart Work Jam, where for 72 hours, more than 2,000 participants from 68 countries "jammed" with nearly 5,000 posts across seven topics around the topic of working smarter.
  7. Outperforming companies share new way of working
    This article summarizes findings from an IBM Institute for Business Value study called "A New Way of Working: Insights from Global Leaders."   The study was designed to find out what makes leaders more dynamic, collaborative and connected; and the common barriers that prevent them from working smarter.
  8. Making SOA governance fit your organization
    This article helps you tailor Service Oriented Architecture governance to your organization, with tips from a book by IBM authors, based on their experiences with customers. 
  9. How SOA can ease your move to cloud computing
    This article helps those of you wanting to get started with cloud computing.  It describes how taking time to set up your SOA environment can give you an important jump start on cloud computing.
  10. Serious games for smarter skills: The future of learning
    Gaming is only for play time.  this article describes how gaming technology can play a role in helping us improve business processes.

So if you are thinking your business processes need some re-engineering, I’d recommend taking a look at applying Service Oriented Architecture methodologies upfront.  SOA can provide your company with an architectural model for integrating business partners’, customers’ and suppliers’ services into an enterprise’s business processes.

You can access the online issue of the whole newsletter, IBM Smart SOA & BPM Newsletter – Vol. 43.  You can also access all back level issues of the newsletter via http://www-931.ibm.com/bin/newsletter/tool/parchive.cgi?nlId=10481 where you can also set up a subscription for yourself so you get the newsletter emailed directly to you every month.

My Thoughts on the Cloud Computing Trend

Last month I posted "IBM Cloud Computing White Papers".  In that post I provide summaries and links to a number of white papers IBM has posted on the Cloud Computing topic. 

SWSC16 As I mention in that post, I did a bunch of research on the topic of Cloud Computing back in late 2007 and 2008.  The post last month gave me the opportunity to reflect on the cloud computing trend.  In 2008 it was an emerging buzzword in the IT industry.  Today, 2 years later, the concept is a little more defined and the hype has died down a bit. 

Yes, there is more that needs to happen before the true potential of cloud computing becomes a reality, but there is no question that we all need to pay attention to the vision of cloud computing…because cloud computing (or whatever it ends up being called) is the future of the IT industry. 

Why you ask?  There are a number of reasons.  But primary in my mind is that it offers businesses the promise of business agility.   Agility enables the business to respond quickly to customer requests for new products and services.  It also allows businesses to partner more quickly to reach new markets faster.  And it also allows businesses to quickly change in the face of competition.  Here are some basic reasons why the cloud computing concept will take off.

  • Economics: Clouds will require a very small up front investment.  Usage will be be billed by consumption.  The resulting reduction in Total Cost of Ownership will allow businesses to pursue improvements in operational efficiency and productivity.
  • Risk Management:  In some cases, there will be no fixed time commitment.  This will allow businesses to try many new services faster.  This reduces big failure risks and allows clients to be innovative.
  • Time to Market:  Businesses will be able to adopt new services quickly for pilot usages and then scale quickly to a global scale.
  • Information Society:  Cloud computing will provide business executives value-added information generated by the collection and analysis of massive amounts of unstructured data.
  • Ubiquitous Society:  The cloud treats all devices the same making the cloud accessible via a heterogeneous set of devices (sensors, kiosks, PC, mobile device, telematics..)

In today's fast world, new competitors, with innovative business models (e.g. Google, Amazon, etc.), seem to be able to rapidly change their business.  To match these types of competitors, businesses must have a business architecture and an IT infrastructure that is flexible enough to respond quickly to all opportunities and threats.  The emerging cloud computing concept enables businesses to become more agile because it offers the ability to get to market quickly, and with a lower capital expense.  It also assures that as demand increases, resources can be added incrementally, without the need for major architecture changes.

From an IT standpoint, business agility implies the ability to rapidly build and configure tailored solutions which span internal and external systems.  Cloud computing can enable the development of applications in real-time and then also enables them to be quickly deployed globally to any device from sensors to mobile device to PCs.  Once developed, Line of Business executives need those applications to execute in real-time, scaling to meet the needs of the business.   Follow on generations of applications must be able to handle increasingly higher amounts of data as the user base grows.  Once running, applications in the cloud offer non stop operation.  Users aren't burdened by HW and SW upgrades.  

In the future, there will be all sorts of new types of services enabled because of computing clouds.  Services we can''t even imagine right now.  The fact is that the more applications and services that are deployed in the cloud, the more opportunities there are to leverage services provided by others in the same or other clouds.

The biggest 'hurdles' to realizing the vision of cloud computing is security, privacy, & risk Management issues.  These issues can be HUGE to overcome.  The security issues will be very complex to solve and a number of the white papers I summarized in the post "IBM Cloud Computing White Papers" discuss those security issues.

I do believe that we will solve the 'hurdles' and businesses will learn to trust running our systems in the 'clouds'.   Remember the initial fear you had of buying things online with your credit card?  I bet you do that now with much less fear.  Perhaps you don't even think about it.

Anyway, Cloud Computing is a disruptive force in the Information Technology industry and it is one of the trends I will continue to watch closely.

IDC: 2010 Predictions for Infrastructure Software

IDC - System Infrastructure IDC’s System Infrastructure analyst team held its annual predictions call for System Infrastructure 2010 today.  During the call, I heard IDC’s Top 10 predictions for the worldwide system infrastructure software market (system software, virtualization, and system management software ) in 2010.  

Here’s my summary of the top ten predictions reviewed on the call:

  1. Cloud Computing:  IDC says that the hype around Cloud Computing will calm down as management tools start maturing
  2. ROI Drives Decisions:  In 2010, short-term ROI will continue to make or break system infrastructure software purchasing and investment decisions.
  3. Windows 7 Is A Key Transition Point:  IDC expects that the transition to Windows 7 will mark a sobering transition point where traditional PCs begin to loose the position of the primary access device.
  4. Say Goodbye To Unix:  Unix will become a permanent casualty of the economic downturn of 2009
  5. Client Virtualization:  IDC says that the client virtualization trend will have a breakout year, thanks to Microsoft
  6. Converged Infrastructure Platforms:  IDC says that the hypervisor wars will end in 2010 and converged (cloud) infrastructure platforms will take off
  7. End-to-End Application Performance and Visibility:   IDC expects that these objectives will become a major priority across public and private infrastructure and services
  8. License Management:  IDC says that in 2010 vendors will exploit weak software license management environments
  9. Availability Software:  Will increasingly adapt to a virtualized x86 server world
  10. Sustainability and Power Management:   Will become critical green IT differentiators across the system infrastructure software landscape

So there is a ton of activity going on in the software infrastructure marketplace.  Cloud and Virtualization are kind of the megatrends. 

I joined IBM back in the days when the Operating System was a major control point.  All vendors had a closed and proprietary OS.  Those days are gone.  Competitive differentiation in the future will be based more on the flexibility and functionality of the administrative management capabilities, how well the infrastructure platforms deliver operational savings and operational flexibility, and, I believe, how well these platforms enable collaboration.

For more information, you can register and view a recording of the webinar IDC Predictions 2010: Infrastructure Software where you can download the slides.  For even more detail, you can access the IDC document: Worldwide System Infrastructure Software 2010 Top 10 Predictions

Gartner’s Latest List of Disruptive Technologies

Every Wednesday, Gartner does a free webinar on a variety of topics.  Earlier this month, they had a presentation titled "Technology Trends You Can't Afford to Ignore."   I attended the webinar and took some notes.

The webinar provided attendees with Gartner’s latest list of disruptive technologies.  According to Gartner, a disruptive technology is one which drives major change in business processes or revenue streams, consumer behavior or spending, or IT industry dynamics.  It’s important that companies have processes in place to identify the disruptive technologies that will impact their business and develop plans to address these disruptions. 

Gartner regularly publishes disruptive technology lists.  Back in October 2007, I posted Gartner:  Five Disruptive Trends, which was a summary of their current list at that time, which included the following five trends:

  1. Web2.0
  2. Software as a Service
  3. Global-class computing
  4. The Consumerization of IT
  5. Open-Source Software

You can read my October 2007 post Gartner:  Five Disruptive Trends for more on that Gartner list.

So I was interested attending the webinar and seeing what was on Gartner’s list this time.  Here is a summary of Gartner’s July 2009 list of the top 10 technologies that will drive significant disruption over the next five years.

  1. Virtualization.   Virtualization helps reduce the number of servers used, decreasing power consumption.
  2. Data Deluge.  According to Gartner, the amount of data produced around the world will grow by 650% over the next few years, and 80% of it will be unstructured.
  3. Energy & Green IT.   We need to come up with regulations for technology and power consumption. 
  4. Consumerization & Social Software.  Consumerization, Social media, social computing, and social networking will change the way we work.   See my April 16, 2009 post on The Consumerization of IT  or my March 12, 2009 post Social Computing as a Disruptive Force for more on this trend.
  5. Unified Communications.    Unifying communications will allow users to route communications to their preferred device and change that device preference whenever they need to.  
  6. Mobile  Mobile devices 10 years ago were just phones.  Today, they are little computers. Tomorrow, it may be the primary device employees use to get their work done.  
  7. Complex Resource Tracking  This is all about the need to manage our networks more efficiently
  8. System Density.   We are going to need more and more servers.  That's going to increase power and cooling requirements, even as the price of the hardware continues to drop.
  9. Mashups and Enterprise Portals.  Employees will increasingly need and demand new ways to see information. 
  10. Cloud Computing. Cloud-computing can certainly save you a lot of time and money, but it will cost a lot of time to make the switch to the cloud happen.  I spent a bunch of time researching cloud computing.  For more information, see this post, which also contains links to other cloud computing posts I have done.

A quick comparison of the 2007 list with the list today, we see that Consumerization of IT/Social Software made both lists.  And we also see that Saas/Cloud Computing made both lists.   Both these trends are important disruptive trends, for sure.

For more information, or to download the replay and a pdf of the presentation, go to this Gartner website: Webinar Wednesday Series: Technology Trends You Can't Afford to Ignore

Accenture: Future of the Communications Industry

I saw that Accenture recently released a report titled “Communications Industry Trajectory:  On Track for High Performance?”.  The report discusses the blurred boundaries of the telecommunications industry as technology, business and consumer trends redefine the digital services marketplace.  

There is no doubt that convergence is now an accurate description of the current business model of the communications services industry.   Carriers, software companies, high-tech firms, media enterprises, entertainment conglomerates all may find themselves collaborating and partnering one day and competing against each other the next.

Accenture reports that industry executives they talked to for this research report indicate that the future of the communications industry has many opportunities and possibilities.  Future competition will be fierce and most companies will look quite different 10 years from now.   Accenture expects a number of significant mergers, acquisitions and alliances are on the horizon that will change the terms of the playing field in dramatic ways.

Some of the themes that emerged from the research Accenture conducted for the report.

  • Carriers are confident, but their vision may be insufficiently transformative
  • Seamless delivery of content across multiple platforms will be crucial
  • Other players are looking to leverage the distinctive strengths of service providers
  • Carriers must learn to use their brand in the right way
  • Support for open innovation and collaboration is critical to achieving high performance

According to the report there are potential weaknesses in the carriers' current approach: 

  • lack of a powerful vision for managing the customer experience,
  • some softness in overall brand value, and
  • an inadequate support structure for planning and managing the collaborative and partnering relationships necessary to spur innovation and improve time to market.

For more information, you can read the report or listen to an 8 minute Podcast

Accenture on Enterprise Cloud Computing

Accenture has been relatively quiet the last 12 months on the subject of Cloud Computing….there's been relatively little from them on this important disruptive trend.   Searching their website, you really can't find much on the topic.  However, I see they have just published a brief on the topic titled  What the Enterprise Needs To Know About Cloud Computing .  The report is fairly basic, providing an overview of the trends, key drivers and inhibitors, along with some recommendations to CIOs. 

Here are some takeaways from the Accenture brief:

  • Accenture's definition of Cloud computing:  "the dynamic provisioning of IT capabilities (hardware, software or services) from third parties over a network"
  • Five Adoption Drivers: 
    1. Maturation of the Internet as an IT platform
    2. Virtualization
    3. Hardware commoditization
    4. Standardization
    5. Open source software
  • Five Obstacles
    1. Security in a shared third-party environment
    2. Data location, compliance and integration issues
    3. Lack of Service-level guarantees
    4. Legacy systems not tied in yet
    5. Procurement not ready for cloud computing
  • Three Steps CIOs should take:
    1. Use the cloud for the right jobs. Accenture recommends public clouds like Amazon EC2 as an inexpensive and flexible alternative.  It says it EC2 and those like it are mature enough for non-business-critical projects including research and development and software development and testing.  Accenture also says that the EC2 and like public clouds are also well suited for computation-intensive jobs such as data cleansing, data mining, risk modeling, optimization and simulation.
    2. Target the right users for cloud applications. Accenture says to switch some workers to lower-cost, cloud-based solutions based on the type of work they do.  It says to consider contact centers and offshore locations.
    3. Take small steps toward an internal cloud.  Accenture says that CIOs should continue to focus on virtualization and datacenter consolidation initiatives and that these initiatives will eventually lead to internal cloud.

For the full brief, download What the Enterprise Needs To Know About Cloud Computing  

My take is that in 2009 we will see increased focus on private enterprise clouds.  This is a perfect time for IT departments to experiment with the cloud service delivery model.  The eventual end of the financial crisis and recession could be a significant lever in the adoption of Cloud Computing.   One of the major benefits of cloud is the agility it offers.  Application development and system provisioning can happen much faster with a cloud infrastructure, allowing business to deploy new capability faster than ever before.  As the recession ends and growth picks up, the companies with the fastest response to the reappearance of market opportunities will be the ones to benefit most—and they are likely to be the ones that are already experienced in deploying and exploiting Cloud solutions.

Technology Review: 10 Emerging Technologies

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Technology Review has released its annual report on 10 Emerging Technologies of 2009.   I always look forward to this article for it consistently reports on the interesting work going on in labs and academic institutions.  The articles also provide a human element, telling us the person behind the work…how they have worked hard to innovate in the field they are researching.

The 10 emerging technologies MIT presents in this article have the potential to create fundamental shifts in areas from energy to healthcare, computing to communications.  Some of the listed technologies could reach the market within the year, others may take years, but all are expected to have a huge impact in the years ahead.  All of them are interesting to read and think about.  Here the list along with lots of links for more information.

  1. Liquid Battery:  Donald Sadoway, a materials chemistry professor at MIT, has developed a liquid battery that could store enough electricity to allow cities to run on solar power at night.   For more information:  Liquid Battery  
  2. Traveling-wave Reactor:  John Gilleland, manager of nuclear programs at Intellectual Ventures, is leading the development of a reactor that would run on depleted uranium, making nuclear power safer and less expensive.   For more information:  Traveling Wave Reactor 
  3. Paper Diagnostic Test:   George Whitesides, a professor at Harvard University, is using paper to create easy-to-use medical tests that could make it possible to quickly and cheaply diagnose a range of diseases in the developing world.   For more information:  Paper Diagnostics 
  4. Biological Machines: Michel Maharbiz, an assistant professor at the University of California, Berkeley, has developed interfaces between machines and living systems that could give rise to a new generation of cyborg devices.  Michel's wirelessly controlled beetle could one day be used for surveillance or search-and-rescue missions.   For more information:  Biological Machines 
  5. $100 Genome:  Han Cao, founder of BioNanomatrix, has designed a nanofluidic chip that could dramatically lower the cost of genome analysis.  Cao's chip could cut DNA sequencing costs dramatically.  Combined with the right sequencing technology, Cao’s chip could allow doctors to tailor medical treatment to a patient’s unique genetic profile, map new genes linked to specific diseases, and quickly identify new viruses and outbreaks.   For more information:  $100 Genome 
  6. Racetrack Memory:  IBM fellow Stuart Parkin has created an entirely new type of data storage on an ultradense memory chip using magnetic nanowires.  This “racetrack memory” could eventually replace all other forms of computer memory and lead to tiny, rugged, and inexpensive portable devices.   For more information:  Racetrack Memory   
  7. HashCache:  Vivek Pai, a computer scientist at Princeton University, has created a new method for storing Web content that could make Internet access speedier and more affordable around the world.   For more information:  HashCache 
  8. Intelligent Software Assistant:  Adam Cheyer, cofounder of the Silicon Valley startup Siri, is leading the design of powerful new software that acts as a personal aide.  This virtual personal-assistant software helps users interact more effectively with Web services to complete tasks such as booking travel or finding entertainment.   For more information:  Intelligent Software Assistant  
  9. Software-Defined Networking:  Stanford computer scientist Nick McKeown believes that remotely controlling network hardware with software can bring the Internet up to speed.   He has developed a standard called OpenFlow that allows researchers to tap into Internet switches and routers to easily test new networking technologies with the click of a mouse—all without interrupting normal service.   For more information:  Software-Defined Networking 
  10. Nanopiezotronics:  Zhong Lin Wang, a materials scientist at Georgia Tech, is pioneering the field of nanopiezotronics.  Wang is creating piezoelectric nanowires that generate electricity using tiny environmental vibrations; he believes they could power implantable medical devices and serve as tiny sensors.   For more information:  Nanopiezoelectronics 

Some of this year's choices, such as #3 – paper-based medical tests and #8 – Intelligent software that acts as a personal assistant, could reach the market within a year.  Others, like #4 – biological machines and #10 nanopiezotronics, could take longer but promise fundamental shifts in fields from computing to medicine, communications to manufacturing.  Its worth noting that three of the technologies are nanotechnology-based:  #5, #6, and #10.

For more information, see Technology Review's article 10 Emerging Technologies of 2009 .  Also the prior year's articles are also interesting to read

eWeek: Five SMB/Midmarket Tech Trends to Watch in 2009

eWeek has weighed in with their annual list of top SMB / MidMarket IT trends to watch in 2009.  With IT budgets expected to be tight this year, eWeek says that small business owners must make wise investments in order to stay competitive.   And because of the focus on cutting costs and managing budgets, eWeek says that technologies such as cloud computing, virtualization and the latest notebooks/netbooks can be well suited for midmarket companies.

  1. Cloud Computing.  eWeek says cloud computing will continue to get traction, especially in the SMB marketplace.  
  2. Virtualization.   eWeek says because of the potential for cost savings, virtualization will be a key trend in 2009 for SMBs.  Plus, eWeek says, building a virtual infrastructure can often result in a higher availability of resources, better desktop management, increased security and improved disaster recovery processes.   
  3. Notebook/Netbook Adoption.  The attractiveness of notebooks and their smaller, less powerful cousins, netbooks, has grown as features such as battery life and structural durability has improved…making this a trend to watch in 2009.   
  4. Open Source Software.  While open source certainly hasn't become a dominant force in the midmarket space, as more SMBs adopt open source technologies for non-critical applications, it is likely others, particularly tech-savvy small business owners, will realize the cost benefit potential of open source technology.
  5. Online Social Networking.  eWeek says social networking has the potential to level the playing field for SMBs in a big way, but first need to understand what you want social media to do for your company.

Cloud computing is a trend I have been following for over a year and I'd have to agree that we will see increased interest from SMBs for not only SaaS, but Infrastructure as a Service as well.

The netbook trend is getting increased attention in the press.  It will be interesting to see how the mobile device market and the netbook market morph over time.

Online social networking is a trend that I think will get even more hype in 2009 as the focus moves from consumer (e.g. Facebook) related social networking to business (e.g. LinkedIn) related social networking.  With layoffs in the picture for 2009, people will be staying in touch even more via social networking sites.

To read the full article, go to the eWeek page:  Five Tech Trends to Watch in 2009

Baseline.com: Top IT Trends for 2009

In light of today's economic environment, many organizations will be looking for ways to cut people, resources and budgets.  At the same time, forward-thinking enterprises will turn to IT to help them maintain and enhance their competitive advantage in the marketplace.  According to an article I found in Baseline.com, "the following technologies are likely to shape IT and business organizations in the coming year".

  1. Software as a Service (SaaS)
  2. Virtualization
  3. Enterprise Mobility
  4. Energy-Efficient Data Centers
  5. Security, Risk and Compliance
  6. Social Networking
  7. Web 2.0
  8. Document Management and E-Discovery
  9. Project Management and Project Portfolio Management
  10. Web and Video Collaboration

If you want to read the full article, I found this list of IT Trends for 2009 in an article at Baseline.com.

You can download a  PDF version of the article here.

Cloud Computing: What is it?

Cloud computing is an emerging buzzword in the IT industry.  An October 28, 2008 search on Google for the phrase “Cloud Computing” returned 19,300,000 hits.   So you can see there is ample hype on this topic.  The concept is not really all that new, but it is getting lots of play right now in the media.  And rightly so…because cloud computing (or whatever it ends up being called) is the future of IT.  

There has been much debate in our industry and in the media about what Cloud Computing really is.  Thousands of articles and blogs can be found on the web where authors have attempted to define what cloud computing is.  As a result, there is much confusion as to what cloud computing really is.  Every author ends up with a definition that benefits their offerings, their magazine, their blog, or in some cases, their analyst research report.  

When you evaluate all the definitions and listen to what CIOs are looking for out of their IT systems in the future, some common characteristics surface.  From all the research I've conducted, the best definition I can come up with is that entry level cloud computing is specified as a elastically scalable, virtualized system that is rapidly provisioned with flexible pricing models.  Lets look at these characteristics in a little more detail.
1. Flexible pricing:  Utility pricing, variable payments, pay-by-consumption and subscription models make pricing of IT services more flexible
2. Elastic scaling:  Resources scale up and down by large factors as the demand changes
3. Rapid provisioning:  IT and network capacity and capabilities are – ideally automatically – rapidly provisioned using Internet standards without transferring ownership of resources
4. Advanced virtualization:  IT resources from servers to storage, network and applications are pooled and virtualized to provide an implementation independent, efficient infrastructure

One other key characteristic about cloud computing that is very important.  The complexity of the systems behind the service is hidden from the end user.  The cloud service worries about delivering the resources needed to support the service.  What the user sees is a service that they need at the time they need it.  And that service should be simple.  Users don't need to worry about all the complexity that is required to deliver the IT service to them.  

Cloud computing is already a force for basic consumer applications.  An example is Google Maps.  Think of it.  When you go to Google Maps, you don't care about the IT complexity behind the scenes.  You don't have to worry about servers, software, or storage.  You are immediately immersed into the map itself.  And what a simple service it is to understand.   Add in all the capability to search for points of interest, drag, zoom in/out, and you have a very simple, yet powerful application that can be used by one person this hour, or scale up to handle a million users the next hour.

Cloud computing will move beyond the current consumer focus into the enterprise market.   Clouds will eventually enable hundreds of devices – cell phones, cars, or sensors in clothing, for example – to be the de facto interface to on-line resources and services.  Technologies supporting cloud – virtualization, automation, open standards, scalable storage and web-based computing – will allow corporate data centers to act with the efficiency of the Internet and at Web speed – faster, more nimble, and with flexibility.  And, it is a green technology model that reduces energy consumption by improving IT resource utilization, therefore requiring fewer servers to handle equivalent workloads.  

A key reason is that enterprises will adopt cloud computing is that it offers the promise of business agility.   Agility enables the business to respond quickly to customer requests for new products and services.  It also allows businesses to partner more quickly to reach new markets faster.  And it also allows businesses to quickly change in the face of competition.  

In today's fast world, new competitors, with innovative business models (e.g.  Google, Amazon, etc.), seem to be able to rapidly change their business.  To match these types of competitors, businesses must have business architecture and an IT infrastructure that is flexible enough to respond quickly to all opportunities and threats.  The emerging cloud computing concept enables businesses to become more agile because it offers the ability to get to market quickly, and with a lower capital expense.  It also assures that as demand increases, resources can be added incrementally, without the need for major architecture changes.

From an IT standpoint, business agility implies the ability to rapidly build and configure tailored solutions which span internal and external systems.  Cloud computing can enable the development of applications in real-time and then also enables them to be quickly deployed globally to any device from sensors to mobile device to PCs.  Once developed, Line of Business executives need those applications to execute in real-time, scaling to meet the needs of the business.   Follow on generations of applications must be able to handle increasingly higher amounts of data as the user base grows.  Once running, applications in the cloud offer non stop operation.  Users aren't burdened by hardware and Software upgrades.  

In the future, there will be all sorts of new types of services enabled because of computing clouds.  Services we can't even imagine right now.  The fact is that the more applications and services that are deployed in the cloud, the more opportunities there are to leverage services provided by others in the same or other clouds.

In future posts, we'll explore cloud computing in more detail, including the potential benefits of cloud computing as well as some of the adoption barriers.  

For more information on cloud computing, here are a couple links…
Economist Special Report on Cloud Computing, October 28, 2008:  http://www.economist.com/specialreports/displayStory.cfm?story_id=12411882
IBM's chairman emeritus for the Academy of Technology, Irving Wladawsky-Berger talks about what cloud computing really is and why it's so vital today.  http://www.internetevolution.com/document.asp?doc_id=163365
Business Week August 2008 Special report on Cloud Computing:  http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/aug2008/tc2008082_445669.htm
Wikipedia article on Cloud Computing  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloud_computing

Cloud Computing Resources

Here's a resource guide for those who want to learn more about Cloud Computing.  There is much more out there, but these links provide you enough reading so that you have an understanding what all the hype is about.

Let me know if you have other places you know about.  I'll take a comment below or an email. Thanks!

Also…if you have not seen it yet…you can check out my Primer on Cloud Computing

Analyst Reports/Articles

Business/Computer Media Publications

Podcasts/Videos:

  • Blogs/ Other

    Cloud Computing Conferences/Events

    Selected Vendor Websites