Looking Back on the forecast of IT Trends and Comments for 2012

By: Rich Ptak, Managing Partner, Ptak, Noel & Associates LLC

“The beginning of a new year marks a time of reflection on the past and anticipation of the future. The result for analysts, pundits and authors is a near irresistible urge to identify important trends in their areas of expertise…”  (from our January newsletter)

We made a lot of predictions this past year and now it’s time to review them and assess our accuracy.

Prediction:  Customers buy solutions, not technologies.   The best and most successful recognize and respond to this demand for comprehensive solutions to their customers’ expectations and demands. The emergence of affordable, fully integrated, modular and comprehensive solutions that address identifiable business and operational problems out-of-the-box will continue and become more competitive as more intelligence and power are embedded in IT solutions.

Year End Result:  More and more vendors with rising revenues are presenting and creating their products as integrated solutions to recognizable organizational and even market segment problems – this holds true for business, as well as IT specific target customers. This applies to vendors from the giants such as IBM to firms such as EventTracker.

Prediction: Private, public and hybrid Clouds continue to grow in number and application spreading across all market segments. Consumers of Cloud services will continue to be even more selective and careful as they choose their providers/suppliers/partners. High on their list will be concerns for stability, security and interoperation…However, a combination of improved architectures and customer interest in achieving very real Cloud…. financial, operational and competitive benefits will maintain adoption rates.

Year End Result:  Interest in the cloud is and remains high, so high that many are “cloud-wrapping” i.e. hyping and adding the name ‘cloud’ to clearly non-cloud products.  Despite some well-published failures, public clouds remain popular as interest grows and the cost of cloud implementation decreases.  HOWEVER, the cloud is no panacea and the vision and expertise of your cloud partner is critical to realizing the payback – choose carefully!

Prediction:  Standards and reference architectures will become more important as Clouds (public, private, and hybrid) proliferate. As business and IT consumers pursue the potential benefits of Cloud/IaaS/ PaaS/ SaaS, etc. it is becoming increasingly obvious that the link between applications/services and the underlying infrastructure must be broken. OASIS [1]-sponsored Topology and Orchestration Specification for Cloud Applications (TOSCA) will do just that.

Year End Result:  Clouds are one of the reasons that consumer interest and membership in standards groups (like Cloud Standards Consumer Council [2]) now number over 378 customer members.  This is motivating vendors to become more active in the technology standards groups where membership and delivery is accelerating (OpenStack has over 850 members) – one more measure of the success is that more vendors have joined IBM in aggressively integrating and marketing messages about their activities in standards groups!

Prediction:  Use of sophisticated analytics as a business and competitive tool spreads far and wide. The application of analytics to data to solve tough business and operational problems will accelerate as vendors compete to make sophisticated analytics engines easier to access and use, more flexible in application and the results easier to understand and implement. IT has provided…. mountains of data as well as the ability to collect and process big streams of live data, combined with concentrated efforts by vendors to wrap accessible user interfaces around the analytics will provide access to these tools to a much wider audience.

Year End Result:  The hype continues, delivery to market of easily accessible and useable analytic solutions isn’t what I expected, but things are improving as solution providers and consumers recognize the power of dynamic virtualization of data to communicate an impactful message.

Prediction:  Increasingly integrated, intelligent, real-time end-to-end management solutions enable high-end, high-value services. End-to-end monitoring and management for proactive action to assure a consistent, high quality end-user experience….The primary goal is prediction to avoid problems. Identifying correlated events can be as effective as or even more effective than recognizing cause in providing an early warning.  The fact is that while knowledge of causation is necessary for repair, both correlation and causation work for predictive problem avoidance.

Year End Result:  Okay, so it’s taking a bit longer for this to become attention grabbing, OR, they are being embedded in and over-shadowed by the arrival of intelligent, highly integrated systems that are workload aware and managed to optimize delivery.

Prediction:  PM (Application Performance Management) converges on BPM (Business Process Management). The definition of APM is expanding to include a focus on the end-user to infrastructure performance optimization as a prime motivator for corrective action. Business managers care about infrastructure performance only to the extent it negatively impacts the service experience. …… Enhanced real-time predictive analytics are specifically used to improve the user’s interactive experience by more quickly alerting IT staff to infrastructure behaviors that can disrupt service delivery.

Year End Result: With the emphasis on optimization of and in service performance, service delivery and dynamic infrastructure – as well as the increasing number of performance management solutions, which allow for integrating business policies for control – GOOD CALL

The impact of the consumerization of IT will continue to become more significant. Consumers of services are increasingly intolerant of making any concessions to the idiosyncrasies of their access devices (iPad, iPod, Smartphone, Nook, etc.)……..Technology will increasingly and automatically detect, adapt to and serve the user.

Year End Result:  The consumer ‘ethics and experience’ dominates not only product design, development and delivery but is fundamentally altering the work environment – at least that’s what we’re told repeatedly by pundits, marketing executives, vendors, etc. and it is actually happening.

Prediction:  Virtualization – acts as a ‘gateway’ step to the Cloud and fully ‘service’ infrastructure.  Virtualization will continue to be subsumed by Cloud. Virtualization is now recognized as an enabling technology and necessary building block to Cloud implementations. It is simply the first step toward achieving a truly adaptive infrastructure that operates with the flexibility, reliability and robustness to respond to the evolving and changing needs of the business and consumer of IT services….

Year End Result:  Smart (and successful) vendors have jumped on this opportunity to provide solutions to accelerate and facilitate the movement from virtualized to Cloud environments – systems, services and software have been retooled, created and delivered in support of these efforts – the caveat which we’ve discussed here and on our website [3] is the need to know your supplier AND understand your needs.

Have a Happy Holiday Season!

[1] www.oasis-open.org/committees/tc_home.php?wg_abbrev=tosca