2015 Tech Trends: A Critical Crossroad for IT

IT as a Service

The trend toward IT as a service (ITaaS) will gain momentum.

Enterprises will continue on their journey toward IT as a service (ITaaS). It will take a true ITaaS model for enterprises to support an agile workforce with the right IT services and applications that they need to deliver value to the business. This represents an unstoppable shift, where IT is transforming into a broker of a wide range of business-critical IT services and business technology. This has also been described as a transition from IT as a gatekeeper to a shopkeeper. This change is inevitable in the long term, and in 2015 Janssen predicts that IT organizations will begin to take steps to prepare them for this new approach to delivering IT services to the enterprise.


Mobility approaches will grow more strategic.

Although mobile has been a major priority for most CIOs, BYOD has often been front and center for the past several years. Most organizations are beginning to see that BYOD has proven to be a single tactic in a much more significant strategy for supporting the mobile workforce. The end-user audience is now heavily dominated by millennials, who expect IT to be fast, easy and automated. Users don’t want to wait on IT, they would rather get things done on their own time from wherever they prefer. A BYOD program cannot deliver on these expectations, and 2015 will be a time when many IT organizations must rethink how they have approached mobility to date and see the bigger picture for enabling agility and mobility among their workforce.

People-Centric IT

A people-centric approach will prevail.

While IT has always had a desire to satisfy users, the business will drive more and more IT decisions and strategies. Many organizations are no longer using the term “users” to signal a shift away from the traditional relationship between IT and other employees. In many instances, they are being considered IT “consumers,” rather than users. This mindset of treating users with the same care and consideration that a business treats its customers often requires looking at IT from the user out. At RES Software, this “people-centric” approach is seen as an important part of IT departments earning more visibility within organizations as a partner in the business.

App Fatigue

IT will need to prevent app fatigue in the enterprise.

We’re already beginning to see the initial signs of “app fatigue” in the consumer world. With so many applications at our disposal, it can be overwhelming, and valuable solutions often get lost in the shuffle. If IT is working toward an ITaaS model where it is able to serve as a broker to the business, it can get ahead of any potential and frustrating app fatigue in the enterprise. By aligning the right mix of apps for users ahead of time and using consumer models like self-service, ratings and reviews, enterprise users can cut through the clutter and be productive with the right IT services. The elimination of unused or unnecessary applications can also relieve tight budgets, so it’s a win-win for users and IT.


A new year brings new strategic initiatives, new projects and new challenges for IT leadership. In 2015, Bob Janssen, founder and CTO at RES Software, believes that CIOs face many important decisions that will help shape the future of their IT organizations.

It is not difficult to see that many of these trends are interconnected with one another. While the challenges facing IT in 2015 won’t be new per se, IT leadership finds itself at a very important crossroads. This coming year presents an opportunity to develop a roadmap and strategy that will reshape how IT supports the business. It is undeniable that IT departments positioned for the most success are evolving into brokers of technology to the business and putting people at the center of their technology choices.


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Local or Hosted? Weighing Your Options for the Private Cloud

The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, and judging by the continued interest in private cloud solutions, it is fair to say that the sky is always bluer on the other side of the cloud, as well.

Cloud providers have made no secret of the fact that they can deliver advanced IT services at a fraction of the cost of in-house infrastructure, but for organizations that have invested millions, if not billions, in their own data centers, it isn’t just a simple matter of dumping the old for the new. Rather, many CIOs are asking themselves: If a third-party provider can deliver IT more cheaply and effectively, why can’t I?

This is one of the reasons why private cloud adoption is about to undergo a dramatic shift over the next year or so, says Technology Business Report. According to the company’s latest research, the percentage of private clouds delivered by third parties is showing a steady decline – from 70 percent to 65 percent in the past year – while in-house clouds are on the rise – 30 percent to 35 percent. At the same time, however, the group notes that while the private cloud market is due to grow by about 15 percent per year through 2018, spending at individual organizations is on the decline due to the low cost of open, public cloud services.

This does not necessarily mean that the enterprise is losing its taste for internal private clouds, however. Rather, it is more likely an indication that once a critical mass of data center infrastructure is shifted to a cloud footing, it becomes more scalable and flexible and therefore reduces the need for continual investment. As InfoWorld’s Howard Baldwin notes,the advent of software-defined networking (SDN) clears the last hurdle to a fully virtualized data environment, allowing organizations to finally bring the benefits of cloud computing to mission-critical applications that must remain firmly shielded behind the enterprise firewall. In this way, the enterprise can field a mix of public, private and hybrid architectures and then easily shift workloads to the appropriate tier through an integrated, universal management stack.

Meanwhile, cloud providers and even application/service developers are making it easier to deploy private clouds almost instantly using appliances optimized for key functions. For example, MobileSmith, a provider of specialized mobile app development platforms, recently launched the MobileSmith Pod appliance that allows enterprises to maintain cloud-based service and development without using a traditional third-party PaaS architecture. The device sits inside the firewall where it can oversee the integration of applications with internal data sources without risking exposure to public infrastructure. Essentially, it provides a rapid private cloud deployment model that fosters key mobile support services like native app development, even for those without advanced programming knowledge, as well as secure end-user management, push notifications and real-time content updates.

Still, the biggest dig at private clouds from the public cloud sector has always been cost. Security is a non-issue, they say, because the same security apparatus that exists in the enterprise can be deployed on the cloud, and public services can mount a wide range of architectures featuring various levels of isolation, reliability and flexibility to equal anything that an individual enterprise can muster, all at less cost. However, as Network World’s Brandon Butler points out, some are starting to contest that notion. Firms like Plexxi and Piston Cloud Computing estimate that, on average, once the public cloud budget hits $7644 per month, it may be time to invest in a private solution – depending, of course, upon the workload, the state of legacy infrastructure and a number of other factors. The key, they say, is weighing the higher upfront costs of the private cloud against the longer-term costs of perpetual leasing of public services, particularly as data loads increase.

All of this indicates that the enterprise will have to do a tricky dance when it comes to finding the right balance in the cloud. If anything can be said with certainty, it is that continual monitoring and assessment of needs and capabilities will remain the order of the day as cloud infrastructure makes the transition from emerging trend to the established mode of IT operation.


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Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2015

Computing Everywhere

As mobile devices continue to proliferate, Gartner predicts an increased emphasis on serving the needs of the mobile user in diverse contexts and environments, as opposed to focusing on devices alone.

“Phones and wearable devices are now part of an expanded computing environment that includes such things as consumer electronics and connected screens in the workplace and public space,” said Mr. Cearley. “Increasingly, it’s the overall environment that will need to adapt to the requirements of the mobile user. This will continue to raise significant management challenges for IT organizations as they lose control of user endpoint devices. It will also require increased attention to user experience design.”

The Internet of Things

The combination of data streams and services created by digitizing everything creates four basic usage models — manage, monetize, operate and extend. These four basic models can be applied to any of the four “Internets.” Enterprises should not limit themselves to thinking that only the Internet of Things (IoT) (assets and machines) has the potential to leverage these four models. For example, the pay-per-use model can be applied to assets (such as industrial equipment), services (such as pay-as-you-drive insurance), people (such as movers), places (such as parking spots) and systems (such as cloud services). Enterprises from all industries can leverage these four models.

3D Printing

Worldwide shipments of 3D printers are expected to grow 98 percent in 2015, followed by a doubling of unit shipments in 2016. 3D printing will reach a tipping point over the next three years as the market for relatively low-cost 3D printing devices continues to grow rapidly and industrial use expands significantly. New industrial, biomedical and consumer applications will continue to demonstrate that 3D printing is a real, viable and cost-effective means to reduce costs through improved designs, streamlined prototyping and short-run manufacturing.

Advanced, Pervasive and Invisible Analytics

Analytics will take center stage as the volume of data generated by embedded systems increases and vast pools of structured and unstructured data inside and outside the enterprise are analyzed. “Every app now needs to be an analytic app,” said Mr. Cearley. “Organizations need to manage how best to filter the huge amounts of data coming from the IoT, social media and wearable devices, and then deliver exactly the right information to the right person, at the right time. Analytics will become deeply, but invisibly embedded everywhere.” Big Data remains an important enabler for this trend but the focus needs to shift to thinking about big questions and big answers first and Big Data second — the value is in the answers, not the data.

Context-Rich Systems

Ubiquitous embedded intelligence combined with pervasive analytics will drive the development of systems that are alert to their surroundings and able to respond appropriately. Context-aware security is an early application of this new capability, but others will emerge. By understanding the context of a user request, applications can not only adjust their security response but also adjust how information is delivered to the user, greatly simplifying an increasingly complex computing world.

Smart Machines

Deep analytics applied to an understanding of context provide the preconditions for a world of smart machines. This foundation combines with advanced algorithms that allow systems to understand their environment, learn for themselves, and act autonomously. Prototype autonomous vehicles, advanced robots, virtual personal assistants and smart advisors already exist and will evolve rapidly, ushering in a new age of machine helpers. The smart machine era will be the most disruptive in the history of IT.

Cloud/Client Computing

The convergence of cloud and mobile computing will continue to promote the growth of centrally coordinated applications that can be delivered to any device. “Cloud is the new style of elastically scalable, self-service computing, and both internal applications and external applications will be built on this new style,” said Mr. Cearley. “While network and bandwidth costs may continue to favor apps that use the intelligence and storage of the client device effectively, coordination and management will be based in the cloud.”

In the near term, the focus for cloud/client will be on synchronizing content and application state across multiple devices and addressing application portability across devices. Over time, applications will evolve to support simultaneous use of multiple devices. The second-screen phenomenon today focuses on coordinating television viewing with use of a mobile device. In the future, games and enterprise applications alike will use multiple screens and exploit wearables and other devices to deliver an enhanced experience.

Software-Defined Applications and Infrastructure

Agile programming of everything from applications to basic infrastructure is essential to enable organizations to deliver the flexibility required to make the digital business work. Software-defined networking, storage, data centers and security are maturing. Cloud services are software-configurable through API calls, and applications, too, increasingly have rich APIs to access their function and content programmatically. To deal with the rapidly changing demands of digital business and scale systems up — or down — rapidly, computing has to move away from static to dynamic models. Rules, models and code that can dynamically assemble and configure all of the elements needed from the network through the application are needed.

Web-Scale IT

Web-scale IT is a pattern of global-class computing that delivers the capabilities of large cloud service providers within an enterprise IT setting. More organizations will begin thinking, acting and building applications and infrastructure like Web giants such as Amazon, Google and Facebook. Web-scale IT does not happen immediately, but will evolve over time as commercial hardware platforms embrace the new models and cloud-optimized and software-defined approaches reach mainstream. The first step toward the Web-scale IT future for many organizations should be DevOps — bringing development and operations together in a coordinated way to drive rapid, continuous incremental development of applications and services.

Risk-Based Security and Self-Protection

All roads to the digital future lead through security. However, in a digital business world, security cannot be a roadblock that stops all progress. Organizations will increasingly recognize that it is not possible to provide a 100 percent secured environment. Once organizations acknowledge that, they can begin to apply more-sophisticated risk assessment and mitigation tools. On the technical side, recognition that perimeter defense is inadequate and applications need to take a more active role in security gives rise to a new multifaceted approach. Security-aware application design, dynamic and static application security testing, and runtime application self-protection combined with active context-aware and adaptive access controls are all needed in today’s dangerous digital world. This will lead to new models of building security directly into applications. Perimeters and firewalls are no longer enough; every app needs to be self-aware and self-protecting.


Gartner, Inc. recently released its top 10 strategic technology trends for 2015. These trends are expected to have a significant impact on organizations over the next three years and may require major investment. As with any changes to business processes, these trends will affect IT departments and end users, as well as long-term planning, programs and initiatives. The coming year’s trends will be focused on merging the real and virtual worlds, data intelligence gathering, and shifting to a digital business model.

“We have identified the top 10 technology trends that organizations cannot afford to ignore in their strategic planning processes,” said David Cearley, vice president & Gartner Fellow. “This does not necessarily mean adoption and investment in all of the trends at the same rate, but companies should look to make deliberate decisions about them during the next two years.”


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