2012 IT Trends

Preface

It’s 2012 and disruptive technological change is in the air. What are the major drivers? What should we be focusing on? Here’s my ideas. What are yours?

Changing Vendor Landscape

The last five years have seen major changes to the IT vendor landscape. Sun Microsystems is no longer in business. Oracle is no longer just a database company. Google has moved well beyond its search services. Amazon’s book store business is becoming a footnote to their application services. Microsoft is suffering a mid-life crisis. And Apple has become the largest company on Earth.

Not to mention the myriad successful start ups such as Dropbox, GitHub, Yammer, Evernote, Quora and LinkedIn, many of whose services are extremely valuable to enterprise users.

This rapidly changing vendor landscape reinforces the maxim that care should be taken to avoid vendor lock-in. You simply don’t know who’s going to be around 5-10 years from now. Even if they’re a market leading, multibillion-dollar company today.

PaaS (Platform as a Service)

Utility computing and grid computing have manifested themselves as PaaS. While enterprises aren’t eager to outsource their data centers, especially their data, they are eager to utilize PaaS to offload their peak processing cycles and provide disaster recovery services.

PaaS is also being turned inward, the so-called Internal Cloud. Why can’t the management ability of the Amazon Web Services be used to provision internal server resources? Why should it be easier to provision externally hosted servers than an organization’s internally hosted servers?

SaaS (Software as a Service)

Google Docs. Gmail. Salesforce.com. GoToMeeting. Software is expected to be  always available and usable from all manner of devices a user may own. No distribution hassles. No versioning hassles. No update hassles. And keep my data backed-up for me too, please.

Virtual Machine Images

Have dramatically changed workstation  management and provisioning. Machine images are regularly maintained and distributed. New employees/contractors can immediately begin work having all the tools they need.

Employees no longer waste their time installing, configuring and patching software. If your machine heads south, no worries – you can easily recover by reinstalling your image.

Dynamic Languages

  • Javascript
  • Ruby
  • Groovy
  • Clojure
  • Python
  • R
  • Lisp
  • Objective-C

To name the more popular ones, remove the boilerplate code and allow developers to focus on the problem at hand. Still working to overcome their historical perception of being “toy” languages these languages are now finding their way into mainstream solutions.

Functional Languages

  • F#
  • Haskell
  • Clojure
  • Scala
  • Lisp

Will solve the Moore’s Law crisis: we’ve hit a wall for single core processing speed. Greater computing power is being achieved through a greater number of processing cores. Parallel programming provides the means for harnessing the power of all these cores. Functional programming is the only practical means of parallel programming at any large scale. Meaning functional programming is the only practical means of harnessing all the available power of today’s multicore processors.

Polyglot Programming

Applications are no longer a single .exe deployed to a user’s workstation. The client portion is likely to utilize HTML, CSS and JavaScript. The server portion is likely to combine object-oriented paradigms and frameworks along with functional paradigms and frameworks. Still other technologies and tools are often utilized for application integration. Right tool for the right job as they say.

This is quickly becoming the new normal. IT organizations embracing polyglot programming need to actively mange their tool set or they may find themselves unable to support all their deployed technologies.

Distributed Source Control Management

Git and Mercurial are the frontrunners in this area. These tools have redefined developer collaboration and experimentation and are yielding higher creativity and productivity.

Continuous Integration

Is a mainstay in organizations adopting agile methodologies. Code is continually built, tested and so bugs are identified early – while they can still be easily fixed. Build early, build often and fail fast.

Adoption of Agile Methodologies

It’s been eleven years since the publishing of the Agile Manifesto. Even longer since the adoption of eXtreme Programming which introduced the radical idea of pair programming. Yet only recently have they captured the attention of the enterprise.

And capture they have. Stakeholders love seeing software as it’s being built and the flexibility of refining requirements in response to interim deliveries and ever-changing business conditions. Developers love creating software not destined to be shelfware and actually delights their users. Developers also love not following a development process by rote but instead doing what makes sense for their particular project, stakeholders and users. In the end this leads to better/cheaper/faster deliverables. Everybody wins.

Collaboration

People work best when working together. Whether it’s working on a presentation, sharing decision support data, conferencing with one another, or simply instant messaging – people need to work together and they need tools that easily allow them to do so. These tools must also work on all devices and platforms from anywhere in the world.

Collaboration doesn’t end with the enterprise. B2B collaboration is crucial in today’s business environment. In those situations there is no control over the platform, device or location – making it even more important to adhere to open standards to achieve success.

Mobile

More smart phones were sold in 2011 than PCs. Tablets such as the iPad were included in the PC category. The netbook market no longer exists having fallen victim to the mobile revolution. Companies implementing a Bring Your Own (mobile) Device to work policy require their IT shops to manage and integrate these new devices with their existing application portfolios.

The key is flexibility. The mobile landscape is changing so fast that today’s hot seller can be tomorrow’s dust collector. At odds are the fact mobile devices are replaced every two to three years and yet the software developed and deployed for them must be capitalized over a five year period. The resolution for this conflict is to support multiple devices – both existing and yet-to-be-released (or even dreamt about).

HTML5

Flash. Silverlight. Java FX. Going, going, gone. The mobile revolution has forced the abandonment of these technologies and the adoption of HTML5. Mobile Consumer/Enterprise Application Platforms (MCAP/MEAP) use HTML5 technologies to create multi-platform mobile applications.

Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 8 extends this trend by utilizing HTML5 technologies for creating native applications. HTML5 then is being used to create desktop apps, web apps, and mobile apps. Using HTML5 for multi-platform application development is a practical strategy for IT shops.

Web Operating System

The browser is the OS, or really the virtual machine – eventually replacing virtual machines such as the CLR and JVM. HTML5-enabled browsers or run time environments are now available on all platforms. These environments provide and manage nearly all resources traditionally managed by an OS:

  • file
  • caching/memory
  • communications/networking
  • 2D & 3D graphics
  • audio & video

Add to that the ability to invoke and host web services and interact with databases and we need to ask ourselves: what do we need OSes, CLRs and JVMs for anyway? What are the long term prospects for the JVM and CLR? Five years? Ten years, tops?

You say you don’t like JavaScript? You have several language choices including:

  • CoffeeScript
  • ClojureScript
  • Dart
  • Red

And many others. Take a look at this site to see what’s available.

Cloud Storage

Users need their files to be accessible and automatically synchronized across all their devices and easily shared with others. File shares and media storage are rapidly becoming relics of the past. Cloud storage makes this possible.

REST Web Services

Embodying the spirit and functionality of the web, REST web services are rapidly displacing SOAP. Good riddance. SOAP web services are opaque and require out-of-band communication to describe their payloads and how to obtain more information utilizing the retrieved data.

Though REST is certainly not new, it’s only been recently that all the major enterprise development platforms have made it as easy to create REST web services as it has been to create SOAP web services. This new-found ease of creation along with these service’s better alignment with the web philosophy, think HTML5, will result in our seeing a lot more of them in the near future.

3D Printing

Okay, this isn’t an IT trend per se. But it’s really cool because of the power it has to disrupt so many industries. This is one of those perception barriers where we can’t fully fathom what life is going to be like with it, and once we have it we won’t be able to imagine what life must have been like before it. This is electric lightbulb class transformative power!

What Do You Think?

What do you see as being the most important trends for 2012?

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About taylodl

I'm an enterprise architect/developer who enjoys programming, math, music, physics, martial arts and beer
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6 Responses to 2012 IT Trends

  1. “This rapidly changing vendor landscape reinforces the maxim that care should be taken to avoid vendor lock-in.”

    So how will you address the audience to whom this proposition is a profound oxymoron?

    • taylodl says:

      These people are currently amazed that a company we recently acquired successfully ran their entire operations on free and open source software.

  2. chris says:

    Nice writup! The 3D printing thing facinates me. I heard an interview on CNN recently about a company called Objet that makes 3D printers that turn out objects in all types of material. They just filed for an IPO on NASDAQ. They claim to have a device for home use at $1300.

    What the computer did for the world logically, this will do physically. We may see all kinds of new gadgets & widgets and eventually make our own. Barriers and turn around times to prototyping and short-run manufacturing will be reduced.

  3. Jack S. says:

    I also see battery enhancements of the last two years being significant.

    Last year MIT came out with the transparent Lithion Ion battery (and a side-effect was that it was flexible)

    Last year U of BErkley announced a cross-discipline breakthrough on switching out the “black carbon” anode for a more conductive silicon anode, this amp efficiency in all battery power transfers (chargin and discharging), it also has the “side-effect” of near perfect less than 2%, memory loss over a year of heavy charging and discharging.

    THis more than anything else excite me, now I can have a battery that REALLY lasts all day on my laptop, now I can charge my electric car faster, now I can look out the window-battery of my orbital deathray in space and heat my home with my window-batteries.

    Cool article, Now I need to figure out an excuse to Print my costume for halloween this year.

    • taylodl says:

      You’re right, there has been phenomenal progress in battery technology that will allow for devices we can barely conceive of today. Now imagine being able to print these batteries!

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