An Armageddon of An App-losion: Well-informed decisions are a must for long-term stability
Whereas users are spoilt for choice with consumer-focused apps, the same will not hold true for businesses. If they don't adapt to the changing app ecosystem quickly, they might end up being subject to multiple vendor lock-ins for different categories of employees. Payment for such different apps may not be as streamlined as before owing to this complexity and with the increase in volume of licenses and legal agreements governing the use of their use, things shall only get worse. Once SMEs acquire the necessary resources, they will begin to develop apps in-house, with complete customization and adherence to policies. Regulatory requirements and compliance will continue to be important drivers behind decision-making. Startups specializing in apps will rapidly increase the competition owing to the high returns in the new business model with relatively less risk and the IT workforce within all types of businesses will be required to have a better understanding of offerings in the market to assess before evaluating each of them. These IT departments of different organizations will assume importance as a key component in the entire app ecosystem. Already we see instances amongst many popular consumer apps and games where features supported on one smartphone OS are not supported or better supported on another. In fact, many apps/games free on one platform are paid on another. Organizations would want to analyze the chances of a long-term vendor lock-in before making purchase decisions as regards applications that meet their requirements. A new set of factors, exploiting the need for mobility, security and compatibility in apps, will emerge that will impact competition in the app stores for businesses.
Complex and constantly changing Cloud Computing: New roles and opportunities within the IT workforce
Adopting the mantra of doing more with less, IT departments will have no choice but to take on additional roles simultaneously and ensure co-ordination amongst them because of rising cloud adoption, which splits processes and data to be handled by the IT department, into regions that are separated across the WAN firewall. There will be a well-defined need to take on the role of providing cloud services brokerage (CSB). IT departments will need to monitor and ensure uptime and resource utilization of the inherently distributed and heterogeneous applications which users as well as business partners, particularly for EDI and communication/collaboration, will use in the cloud. This will increase complexity. This key role will elevate the importance of the IT department within the organization, positioning it as a value center that can derive a higher-than-ever amount of business benefit by solving challenges posed by the new way to consume IT services. In India, connectivity issues and cost-effective bandwidth utilization, combined with local availability of service by the ISP, may turn out to be the key decision factors that will help SMEs determine how much and which (if any) of cloud services should they utilize. The architecture of systems used by an organization will become more and more hybrid and will not remain confined within the organization. For SMEs in particular, many non-critical functions will likely be delegated to systems in the cloud. Cloud services continue to evolve rapidly and thus will continue to present challenges to be met by the IT department. Cloud computing will gain wide acceptance as a proven measure of cost-cutting. The uptime and metering of usage will become key components to be documented in an SLA when IT departments evaluate offerings by different CSPs. The cloud will thus bring about a disruptive change in how users make use of IT services.
Opportunities abound for DBAs and managers
Big Data as a trend is not new but what will change in 2013 is it's role and sphere of influence. CIOs will no longer look at Big Data as affecting an individual project at hand but as something that will have a far-reaching impact on the architecture of dealing with such strategic data. Challenges to be dealt with, such as volume, variety, velocity and complexity will give rise to newer approaches to Big Data. Decision-making will not rely on strategic insights gained from a single warehouse. CMSs, data warehouses, data-marts and purpose-built file systems, combined with data services and metadata will together constitute the logical view of the comprehensive data warehouse of the business. Decision-making systems and processes will have a layer of abstraction between them and the actual source of data storage. Managerial staff will be better able to get the bigger picture without compromising on the ability to access fine-grained details. There would a lesser risk of a single point of failure owing to multiple sources of data which may be configured to run independently as per requirements.
Innovative and instant, in-memory computing: a game-changing approach to processing data
While the clock speeds of micro-processors seem to have hit a wall in the last couple of years, it is certainly not so with the memory capacities of different levels of cache, and combined with the increase in the use of 64-bit systems, certainly not so with the amount of RAM that is shipped with a system. These advances have given rise to what is called In memory computing (IMC) , which has the potential to revolutionize how, where and when data is processed. Batch processes that involve a huge number of disk I/Os no longer need hours of time for running. The response time will begin to approach that of real-time or near real-time computing and this will immensely increase performance and hence, user satisfaction. Rising adoption of the cloud, where response time is critical, will act as a goldmine for the same. Combine this with the fact that clouds typically have a power back-up so that memory is not wiped out in the event of a power supply disruption. Instantaneous simulations and pattern-matching opportunities arise. This will help in long-running data-intensive tasks such as scientific research. It will eventually become possible to both transact and analyze on the same dataset, opening up huge opportunities for deriving business benefit. Vendors will take advantage by offering new solutions that make use of IMC. This will make sure that IMC as an approach gains inroads into everyday systems for mass adoption. This is one out-and-out promising trend but in India will be affected by power availability and stability. SMEs having power back-ups in place, as well as developers wanting to invest their efforts into real-time computing, will gain a lot from spending on IMC.
The new ecosystem is driving purchase decisions by all means
Vendors have already started offering stacks of solutions. This trend is expected to increase in scale in 2013. Loosely-coupled solutions are seen to be losing acceptance in spite of increased modularity. An integrated solution generally demands a lower cost, is simple to manage/support, and gives more assured security, thus being beneficial to the CFO, IT dept, CIO and the user at the same time. Vendors may take advantage of the opportunity by exercising a more comprehensive level of control in the form of a packaged solution as well as a higher margin. We are already seeing a nascent market in India for purpose-built appliances, which make life a lot easier for IT workforce. The use of PaaS cloud services is on the rise, which gives developers an integrated destination to their development efforts. Similar cloud-based marketplaces are beginning to see the light of the day. This also presents a big opportunity for ISVs. Multi-tiered applications are being spread to mobile devices by each of the popular vendors. Offerings such as Office 365 subscriptions and nano PCs are perfect examples of how packaged and integrated approaches to software and hardware are finding customers. However, customers need to evaluate the flexibility of an integrated solution in terms of the ability to customize and also focus on open standards since use of an integrated solution may lend to vendor lock-ins. This is already affecting mobile developers to an extent, where, in some cases, they have to use a particular tool only to develop apps for a specific platform. Open-source-based cloud offerings too have begun to deliver packaged solutions which are highly configurable, although not as stable in many cases as their commercial counterparts.
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