With the growth of the New IP technologies in service provider networks, the use of cloud for everything from soup to nuts and the emergence of a variety of as-a-service platforms, technology is advancing more rapidly than ever before -- and we don't expect it to slow down any time soon.
Indeed, if the first two weeks of January are any indication, 2016 promises to be another exciting year of change where the balance of IT shifts away from vendors, developers move out of the basement and into the boardroom, and IoT really becomes about the business case. But that's not all, according to Sarah Lahav, CEO of SysAid Technologies. She also expects to see a lot more progress around how vendors sell their products and how service providers will protect their networks. Here she offers up six predictions on what we can expect to see in 2016 and beyond.
Shifting the balance of power
The cloud adoption trend has prompted some major companies like General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE) and Royal Phillips to take a more streamlined strategy that jettisons central IT-driven procurement contracts -- perceived as inefficient and constraining -- in favor of consumption-based agreements with no upfront costs, no lock-in, no minimum use and pay-as-you-go billing, according to Lahav.
An example of such a shift is Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)'s replacement of the standard software license with one based on the consumption of Office 365 and cloud units. Lahav warns that vendors that don't adapt to these expectations risk losing their direct relationship with customers who may be inclined to select a service provider that will give them the type of contract they want.
Developers: Moving from the basement to the boardroom
"During 2016, the perception that developers are basement-dwelling, socially-awkward techies with no grasp on business reality will continue to be shattered," said Lahav. Instead, they will take their rightful place in the C-suite, she says. The shift in status is an inevitable result of reimaging software development as a progressive process that is capable of responding to changes in real time. In that context, the developers' role will be recognized as central to business processes, and companies will offer whatever it takes to get the developer skills on board, including adopting open source, she says.
"Technology changes have upped the stakes for shadow IT and lines of business are increasingly eschewing central IT functions and going straight to the technology vendors themselves, especially cloud vendors," says Lahav. This is an opportunity for some companies – especially as businesses increasingly purchase software-as-a-service (SaaS), particularly for customer relationship management (CRM) and customer support, IT service management (ITSM) and IT service desk, and marketing applications. Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL) has capitalized on serving those services to businesses, Lahav observes, while the bigger names in cloud services -- Amazon Web Services Inc. and Microsoft Azure -- have concentrated their attention on infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS).
PaaS: avoiding the waste of "samework"
This past year, platform-as-a-service (PaaS) really came into its own as businesses realized they didn't have to build things themselves. "Cloud Foundry became a foundation consisting of customers and vendors; new alliances emerged with
Red Hat Inc. (NYSE: RHT)'s OpenShift now playing nice on Azure; and Pivotal continued to shout the loudest from the highest hilltop," said Lahav. Cloud Foundry offers and companies "opinionated" or "structured" PaaS.
The advantage of the opinionated platform is that it comes ready to go. Businesses that implement it don't need to have their own IT teams duplicate work in setting up log-in mechanisms, monitoring systems, or identity and access management systems, noted Lahav. "Trying to build it yourself when you don't have to is like reinventing the wheel, an exercise in futility and frustration."
IoT: driving exponential growth of data & connectivity
We've been hearing a lot about Internet of Things (IoT) this year, but it will really take off only if there is a compelling business case for its use -- and this year we'll see more compelling business cases in everything from aviation to healthcare, according to Lahav. As IoT sensors become smaller and cheaper, they will literally be everywhere, and generating data at an unprecedented rate, she says.
The need to capture and analyze that data often in real time, "will drive more cloud usage -- the essential characteristics of broad network access and elastic capacity being essential for IoT -- and new database systems," she adds. Lahav's prediction is consistent with Cisco's, as we saw in Cisco's Cloudy Forecast, we're on track for IoT to generate that 507.5 zettabytes of data per year by 2019. (See Cisco's Cloudy Forecast.)
Combatting malware and breaches
With all the advantages of connectivity, there is also a downside: the increasing access points to breach security. Lahav says over "90% of corporate security breaches are caused by employees being hijacked by malware or suckered by phishing to reveal their credentials to criminals." Clearly, the time has arrived for better security aside from the standard log on with a passwords and spam warnings, and she believes that will become the norm this year.
In addition, more secure points of access, like "authentication code generators on mobile phones" will become standard. Email security will get much more sophisticated than mere spam filters, as well." New security software will interpret email attachments and applications embedded in browsers, such as PDF browsers, to decompose the content, check it against known safe formats (using whitelists), and recompose correctly before passing it on to the end user, says Lahav. That's a much safer bet than trusting each user to recognize potential threats in email on sight.
— Ariella Brown, Freelance Contributor, special to The New IP