I wrote the the following article on January 17th, 2014 for Wired.com – Innovation Insights Blog. Innovation Insights is a community blog and forum that I belong to, dedicated to new thinking for a new era in technology.
The world of IT is changing at an ever-increasing pace. No one can tell in detail what the next big technologies will be, what they will be called or how they will exactly work. What you can count on are surprises and the continuation of some tech elements. It will be a mix of innovation and rapid evolution of existing technologies. The mobile explosion will continue, there will be more mobile users than ever before, BYOD and web applications will continue to advance. When looking to build for the future, the #1 thing to keep in mind is there will be a lot more devices everywhere.
The future will demand scale, flexibility and ubiquitous access. It’s a simple formula with many underlying complex components. At this point we hear about “the cloud” ad nauseam, but few realize it is the key to building IT for the future.
To add some perspective, think about the massive scale out there on the horizon. We have to strategize to accommodate a tsunami of data, access and usage. Millions, even billions, of devices will enter into the digital flow in ways we have yet to see. There will be all kinds of new demands to deal with.
- We are at the dawn of a tech revolution. According to Gartner, the Internet of Things installed base will grow to 26 billion units by 2020.
- Wearable computing, tracking, monitoring technology will be integrated into our daily habits and routines.
- Sure, we’ve heard about “smart homes” for years now, but they have in fact arrived and it’s not a stretch to say that the average modern home is indeed “smart.” All smart appliances, utility controls and entertainment devices are tied to the internet and placing immeasurable demand. Everything from thermostats and security systems to refrigerators and cable boxes.
- Tracking devices will trace nearly everything – from cars and mobile devices to valuables.
- Computing will continue to miniaturize fitting in a “hand watch” form factor, or even smaller such as a simple lapel button, placing unprecedented computing resources in tiny spaces.
- The industry will shift to computer learning rather than just processing.
- Big data and analytics will continue their incredible demands on technology.
- 3D printing has emerged and will be increasingly commercially viable.
The only one way to embrace the immense data processing demands of all of these is with an innovative and flexible computing approach. The old ways simply will not work. There are plenty of reasons for this but mostly it comes down to the massive scale necessary and the requirements for massive “instant performance.” We can already see the need for enormous storage and hence enormous databases. This is the future we all need to build for, looking even beyond 2020. Obviously things change quickly, but we can see what’s going to happen – there will be more and more requests for data, there will be more IPs than ever, and there will be tremendous demands for computer resources.
Think back to just six years ago; Apple’s App Store first hit the scene, spawning the thriving app ecosystem we see today. That was followed a few months later by the Android Market (later Google Play). Consider the explosion of apps and information that became of that. Today, apps have emerged in automobiles, televisions, tablets, and they’re coming to nearly everything that you can think of: from appliances, garage door openers, smart homes, tools and more — all examples of devices with near complete awareness, integrated to your digital world, and continuously producing data.
So how should infrastructure providers adapt to accommodate this mountain of data? Clearly, traditional infrastructure can’t handle it because it cannot scale. Cloud alone can’t do it, as the virtualization layer introduces latency and performance issues when faced with large data sets. What will work?
Hybrid cloud technology is the bridge between the performance and control of dedicated infrastructure and the flexibility and benefits of the cloud that we know. A computer layer has to scale up front and then there are all the control and performance requirements of the systems handling these technology waves. Big Data is a perfect example and use case. In a Big Data system, there are elements of the user interface and system management that do not benefit at all from being on dedicated hardware; however, the search, data processing, analysis and collection side of a Big Data system absolutely benefit. Other trends that the enterprise will look for are globalization and redundancy — perfectly provided by the cloud elements of hybrid environments.
To be future-proof, it is key to start the hybrid conversation as soon as possible and at the highest levels possible. It must be a business decision. Databases are always going to be better on dedicated systems; they simply cannot perform as effectively in virtual infrastructure. On the other hand, all site-level roles, control panels and many computing roles are adequately hosted in the cloud. It can’t be one or the other but a true mash-up delivered via hybrid cloud architecture.
The future has immense demands in store for us. We require flexible, controlled and strategic frameworks to build on. The hybrid approach provides the infrastructure benefits we will ultimately depend on and it’s a key investment for any company. It will scale easily as you integrate data, text and voice information with an extensible, controlled and cost-effective infrastructure that meets your business needs. Not only does the business benefit, but the customer benefits as well.
Best of all, there are platforms out there right now that are suitable for any kind of business regardless of size; with hybrid, the environment is always on your terms, delivering exactly what you need – nothing more, nothing less. If you’re building for today, you’re already behind. If you’re in this game for the long haul, you must prioritize a hassle-free hybrid cloud infrastructure. Plan your strategy, map it to your long-term needs, and pick the right technologies and partners. The journey to 2020 begins now.