Forrester’s CEO took the stage at the IT Forum in Las Vegas today and outlined his bold predictions for the future of business technology — and who will win and who will lose.
Citing Moore’s Law, which states that processing power will double every two years, and what he called “Hitachi’s Law,” the principle that the physics of storage technology allows storage to double every 1.2 years, George Colony said computing power lies at the center of a company’s IT structure, but also at the periphery.
As proof, he held aloft an iPad 2, which has the equivalent processing power of the Cray Supercomputer, which would have made it one of the top 30 supercomputers in the world in 1983.
The network however, is not progressing at the same speed, he added.
“While the center is ever more powerful, it also says that the periphery of the network is also becoming very powerful,” Colony said. “That will change the architectures we all use in the future.”
And the cloud model, while powerful and dynamic in its own right, does not take full advantage.
“A standalone cloud or Web solution is dead,” Colony said. “The Web is a dead technology, it is not the future architecture of the Internet. The architecture that’s going to dominate is going to take advantage of high power at the center Internet but also the periphery where applications reside.”
That future architecture, Colony called the App Internet.
Eventually, every device will have an AppStore, Colony said. There’s going to be app stores on every single device whether it’s on a PC, and iPhone, or a car.” As an example of the emerging shift, he pointed to USAA, the Texas-based insurance company which is shifting development away from the Web and toward mobile applications.
Winners and Losers
Colony also presented a Forrester Wave for the App Internet, though he called it a “Wave Lite” with only two weeks of research devoted to it rather than the months that a Wave typically requires. And he didn’t spare barbs for many who are undoubtedly Forrester clients.
The poor performers in Colony’s Wave are those reliant on the Internet.
The leader, to no one’s surprise was Apple, though Colony did not exactly praise Apple for its long-term vision.
“I think this company is very lucky,” Colony said. “Why are they in the App Internet business? Steve Jobs initially said this is a closed device. It took months and months to let people [build applications for the iPhone]. They kind of fumbled in to this app internet architecture.”
The Risky Bets
Google – “Google would like it if the world would stop spinning. I have Google as a risky bet because they’re so Web centric. I thought that the [Chrome book, an entirely web-centric computer] was one of the greatest acts of corporate idiocy I’ve ever seen.”
HP and Dell – “They’re already in the powerful periphery device business but can they reform the PC to live in the App Internet world?”
SAP and Oracle – “I think these guys can get traction pretty quickly in the App Internet. The problem will be pricing.”
“Microsoft and their little buddy Nokia” – “Microsoft gets it to an extent with variable pricing, all cloud to all data center. Also Silverlight could be a fantastic development platform for the App Internet.”
The SaaS Horde – Lots of them are at risk. “Find a successful SaaS company, go out and build and App internet of that company you could make a lot of money.”
Renren (the Facebook of China), Baidu (the Google of China) and Yandex (the Google of Russia) — Wall Street is pricing these at very high numbers but they’re vendors of the past not the future.”
RIM – “RIM has a tablet; the problem is that doesn’t work unless you have a BlackBerry.”
IBM – “IBM is in the services business. If there’s a fantastic play for the App internet it’s the services business.”
The Strong performers:
Salesforce.com – “They quickly responded to the iOS and Android challenge. Now we have ability to access Salesforce through that App Internet experience.”
Software entrants – “Five years from now you’ll see two or three players we’ve never heard of who will come on very fast.”
“There’s a lot of dynamism on this chart,” Colony said in an attempt to cover himself in case any of the vendors he mentioned were in attendance. “The future is not written. Any and all of these vendors can change these business models and move toward the App Internet.”
For technology professionals, the App Internet will mean change, according to Colony.
Application developers — are going to need to develop new programming skills.
Business process professionals — should not let any new application in to their organization that does not offer an App Internet experience. “Your workforces are all coming with these devices which are running the App Internet already.”
CIOs — will need to prove they can drive customer centricity by driving app intent.
Enterprise Architects – should not over commit to the cloud. “The cloud can still do some things for you but it’s not the final solution, the hammer that can hit every dam,” Colony said.
Infrastructure and developer pros -”You’re job is not going away. If you look at number of gigaflops in your company, they may not be in the data center, it maybe in hands of everybody.
We’re going to have to manage all those devices.”
Security and risk pros – “Your about to become very overemployed. There is risk in the App Internet. There are security problems. We’re moving executables through the network to employees.”
Sourcing and vendor management pros – “You’re going to have to make sense of all the new pricing and packaging schemes.”