As 2010 comes barreling to an end, we decided it would be a good idea to take a breath, take a look back, and try and identify the key IT trends coming around the corner at us in 2011. It’s true, 2010 has already been such a huge year in IT: Oracle acquiring Sun, everyone jumping on the tablet bandwagon (Has RIM ever developed a product line so quickly?), the endless Mark Hurd drama … and we have a feeling next year isn’t going to be any quieter. So here’s what we see down the pipe. Have some ideas of your own? Think mine are off? E-mail at Michael@ITKnowledgeExchange.com.
10. Tablets take on (more of) the enterprise. A bit obvious, but I have some big caveats. Yes, the BlackBerry PlayBook is coming in early 2011, and the iPad has seemingly created and dominated a market that has limped along sadly for years, but outside of verticals and tasks where we already see tablet computing working (medical, small presentations, early adopters who drag their IT departments into the next decade), I think we’re going to see a lot of niche uses and niche users, but little new widespread adoption. That might change in 2012, but we’ll have to see some actual cases for the slick, sexy and somewhat difficult to place devices.
One weak argument I’m already hearing and expect to hear more of: The tablets are a green technology, cutting paper usage and saving trees. Watch out for this one, which is the sign of an executive willing to make any hair-brained argument he or she can to get their hands on the shiny new bauble. See the Modesto council that bought itself 16 iPads for $13,000 ($812.50 a piece!), the costs of which it expects to recover in 15 months on saved copying fees. Uh-huh.
9. APIs quietly cause big change in businesses large and small. Salesforce.com’s acquisition of Heroku was a particularly fun one, I thought, with the SaaS-y kind of cloud making a small strike against Amazon, the, er, overall kind of cloud. James Governor of RedMonk had an insightful take on why this $212 million deal was important:
Which brings us to Salesforce.com – which is basically a billing engine across a bunch of servers with some salesforce automation on the side. Obviously Salesforce is a lot more than that, but unlike many other players they always clearly understood that job one in utility computing was billing. Heroku – the same. Salesforce avoids IT to sell to the business, while Heroku avoids IT to sell to developers. The two firms definitely have something in common. While Salesforce has done an outstanding job selling to line of business people, its direct outreach to developers through its Force.com PaaS platform and “Java-like” APEX language has been disappointing so far. Big Difference then- APEX is “Java-like”. Heroku is Ruby.
Getting all these cloud-y pieces working together is going to require a lot of hand-crafted connections, but the good news is that more and more enterprise software is coming loaded with well-thought APIs and the ability to quickly tie your systems together without a huge commitment. Read some of our past API guides to see how this trend will affect your business.
8. Big data will keep moving to the cloud. Already, a lot of important data is tied to the cloud, but we’ll see advances in data center-as-a-service, storage-as-a-service and backup-as-a-service in ways we haven’t yet. Why? Reduced CapEx plus reduced complexity is a tough sell to beat. What’s going to be interesting is to watch how this move is formed: Will hybrid models win IT’s favor, helping to delay but not avoid that costly data center upgrade, or will straight up cloud deals win the day? Ron Miller goes more into why data is the next cloud frontier.
7. Microsoft’s cloud ambitions take shape – or vaporize. Windows Azure is still a mysterious figure in the land of enterprise services, and Ray Ozzie’s departure didn’t help matters. Microsoft has dedicated resources, time and money to tackling the future of computing as the world sees it, but they don’t seem to be able to dedicate resolve to moving past the bare minimum required to have a seat at the table. Even their new “To the cloud!” consumer campaign seems to just muddy the waters even more. The cloud is connected picture-sharing? Video chat? Having a wireless LAN? If there’s an architect there pulling the strings, he needs to start working on his choreography.
6. IT gets less technical. I’ve seen this trend for a few years now, but it’s continuing: IT just isn’t as technical as it used to be, trading some command line prowess for the ability to make a business case, come in under budget and keep the lights running. There are a few niche specialties where this doesn’t apply, but overall the trend is clear: The tools get better and more automated, and so IT must continue to evolve, managing the change and figuring out how to contribute to a successful business, rather than just ensuring uptime.
So that’s the first five. What have I missed so far? Let me know via e-mail or in the comments.