It’s that time of year…

… for everyone to predict what will be happening in the world of tech in 2016. Here’s a roundup of some of the cloud and wider IT predictions that have been hitting my social media feeds over the last week or so.

First off is Information Week with 8 Cloud Computing Predictions for 2016.

  1. Hybrid will become the next-generation infrastructure foundation.
  2. Security will continue to be a concern.
  3. We’re entering the second wave of cloud computing where cloud native apps will be the new normal.
  4. Compliance will no longer be such an issue meaning barriers to entry onto the cloud for most enterprises, and even governments, will be lowered or even disappear.
  5. Containers will become mainstream.
  6. Use of cloud storage will grow (companies want to push the responsibility of managing data, especially its security, to third parties).
  7. Momentum of IoT will pick up.
  8. Use of hyper-converged (software defined infrastructure) platforms will increase.

Next up IBM’s Thoughts on Cloud site has a whole slew of predictions including  5 reasons 2016 will be the year of the ‘new IT’ and  5 digital business predictions for 2016. In summary these two sets of predictions believe that the business will increasingly “own the IT” as web scale architectures become available to all and there is increasing pressure on CIOs to move to a consumption based model. At the fore of all CxO’s minds will be that digital business strategy, corporate innovation, and the digital customer experience are all mantras that must be followed. More ominous is the prediction that there will be a cyber attack or data breach in the cloud during 2016 as more and more data is moved to that environment.

No overview of the predictors would be complete without looking at some of the analyst firms of course. Gartner did their 2016 predictions back in October but edged their bets by saying they were for 2016 and beyond (actually until 2020). Most notable, in my view, of Gartner’s predictions are:

  1. By 2018, six billion connected things will be requesting support.
  2. By 2018, two million employees will be required to wear health and fitness tracking devices as a condition of employment.
  3. Through 2020, 95 percent of cloud security failures will be the customer’s fault

Forrester also edged their predictive bets a little by talking about shifts rather than hard predictions.

  • Shift #1 – Data and analytics energy will continue drive incremental improvement.
  • Shift #2 – Data science and real-time analytics will collapse the insights time-to-market.
  • Shift #3 – Connecting insight to action will only be a little less difficult.

To top off the analysts we have IDC. According to IDC Chief Analyst Frank Gens:

“We’ll see massive upshifts in commitment to DX [digital transformation] initiatives, 3rd Platform IT, the cloud, coders, data pipelines, the Internet of Things, cognitive services, industry cloud platforms, and customer numbers and connections. Looked at holistically, the guidance we’ve shared provides a clear blueprint for enterprises looking to thrive and lead in the DX economy.”

Predictions are good fun, especially if you actually go back to them at the end of the year and see how many things you actually got right. Simon Wardley in his excellent blog Bits or pieces? has his own predictions here with the added challenge that these are predictions for things you absolutely should do but will ignore in 2016. Safe to say none of these will come true then!

With security being of ever greater concern, especially with the serious uptake of Internet of Things technology, what about security (or maybe lack of) in 2016? Professional Security Magazine Online has Culture Predictions for 2016 has in its predictions that:

  1. The role of the Security Chief will include risk and culture.
  2. Process, process, process will become a fundamental aspect of your security strategy.
  3. Phishing-Data Harvesting will grow in sophistication and catch out even more people.
  4. The ‘insider threat’ continues to haunt businesses.
  5. Internet of Things and ‘digital exhaust’ will render the ‘one policy fits all’ approach defunct.

Finally here’s not so much a prediction but a challenge for 2016 for possibly one of the most hyped technologies of 2015: Why Blockchain must die in 2016.

So what should we make of all this?

In a world of ever tighter cost control and IT having to be more responsive than ever before it’s not hard to imagine that the business will be seeking more direct control of infrastructure so it can deploy applications faster and be more responsive to its customers. This will accentuate more than ever two speed IT where legacy systems are supported by the traditional IT shop and new, web, mobile and IoT applications get delivered on the cloud by the business. For this to happen the cloud must effectively ‘disappear’. To paraphrase a quote I read here,

“Ultimately, like mobile, like the internet, and like computers before that, Cloud is not the thing. It’s the thing that enables the thing.”

Once the cloud really does become a utility (and I’m not just talking about the IaaS layer here but the PaaS layer as well) then we can really focus on enabling new applications faster, better, cheaper and not have to worry about the ‘enabling thing’.

Part of making the cloud truly utility like means we must implicitly trust it. That is to say it will be secure, it will recognise our privacy and will always be there.

Hopefully 2016 will be the year when the cloud disappears and we can focus on enabling business value in a safe and secure environment.

This leaves us as architects with a more interesting question of course? In this brave new world where the business is calling the shots and IT is losing control over more and more of its infrastructure, as well as its people, where does that leave the role of the humble architect? That’s a topic I hope to look at in some upcoming posts in 2016.

Happy New Year!

2015-12-31: Updated to add reference to Simon Wardley’s 2016 predictions.

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