Monday, January 4, 2016

Blueprint: The (Near) Future of Enterprise Apps, Analytics, Big Data and The Cloud

by Derek Collison, Founder and CEO of Apcera

In 2016, technical innovation, combined with evolutionary trends, will bring rapid organizational changes and new competitive advantages to enterprises capable of adopting new technologies. Not surprisingly, however, the same dynamics will mean competitive risk for organizations that have not positioned themselves to easily absorb (and profit from) new technological changes. The following predictions touch on some of the areas in IT that I think will see the biggest evolutions in 2016 and beyond.

  1. Hadoop: old news in 24 months. Within the next two years, no one will be talking about big data and Apache Hadoop—at least, not as we think of the technology today. Machine Learning and AI will become so good and so fast that it will be possible to extract patterns, perform real-time predictions, and gain insight around causation and correlation without human intervention to model or prepare raw data. In order to function effectively, automated analytics typically need to be embedded in other systems that bring forth data. Next-generation AI-enabled machine learning systems (aka “big data,” even though this term will soon fade away), will be able to automatically assemble and deliver financial, marketing, scientific and other insights to managers, researchers, executive decision makers and consumers—giving them new levels of competitive advantage.
  2. Microservices will change how applications are developed. Containers will disrupt the industry by giving organizations the ability to build less and assemble more since the cost of the isolation context is so small, fast and cheap. While microservices are inherently complex, new platforms are emerging that will make it possible for IT organizations to innovate at speed without compromising security, or performing the undifferentiated heavy lifting to construct these micro-service systems in production. With robust auditing and logging tools, these platforms will be able to reason and decide how to effectively manage all IT resources, including containers, VMs and hybrids.
  3. The container ecosystem will continue to diversify and evolve. The coming year will see significant evolution in the container management space. Some container products will simply vanish from the market, while certain companies, not wanting to miss out on the hype, will simply acquire existing technology to claim a spot in the new ecosystem. This consolidation will shrink the size of the playing field, making viable container management choices easier for IT decision makers to identify. Over time, as container vendors seek to differentiate themselves, those that survive will be the ones that demonstrate the ability to orchestrate complex and blended workloads, in a manner that enterprises can manage with trust. The container will slowly become the most unimportant piece of the equation.
  4. True isolation and security will continue to push technology forward. Next year, look for creative advances in enabling technology, such as hybrid solutions, consisting of fast and lightweight virtual machines (VMs) that wrap containers, micro-task virtualization and unikernels. This is already beginning to happen. For example, Intel's Clear Containers (which are actually stripped-down VMs) use no more than 20 MB of memory each, making them look more like containers in terms of server overhead, and spin up in just 100-200 milliseconds. The goal here is to provide the isolation and security required by the enterprise, combined with the speed of the minimalist “Clear Linux OS.” Unikernels, another emerging technology, possess meaningful security benefits for organizations because they have an extremely small code footprint, which, by definition, reduces the size of the “attack surface.” In addition, unikernels feature low boot times, a performance characteristic always in favor with online customers who have dollars to spend and the burgeoning micro-services crowd.
This coming year is set to be a busy one. Technology is advancing at a pace that has never been seen before. The rise of machine learning in agile enterprises will truly transform the way information is gathered, analyzed and used. Microservices and containers are going to change the way software systems are designed and built, and we’ll see a lot of movement and acquisitions within the container ecosystem. And, as always, security will be a prominent concern; however, much of the new technology adopted next year will be built upon a foundation of isolation and security, not bolted on as an afterthought. Innovation that doesn’t compromise security will be a welcome change. 2016 is shaping up to be an exciting year.

About the Author

Derek Collison is CEO and founder of Apcera, provider of the trusted cloud platform for global 2000 companies. An industry veteran and pioneer in large-scale distributed systems and enterprise computing, Derek has held executive positions at TIBCO Software, Google and VMware. While at Google, he co-founded the AJAX APIs group and went on to VMware to design and architect the industry’s first open PaaS, Cloud Foundry. With numerous software patents and frequent speaking engagements, Derek is a recognized leader in distributed systems design and architecture and emerging cloud platforms.


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