2012 Prediction: Riverbed Technology
Letting Go of Your Data (and Other Scary Ideas)
My crystal ball tells me 2012 will be the year of organizational attitude adjustment. Cloud! There, you knew it was coming, so I wrote it. Now I have to support it.
When’s the last time you cozied up to an actual desk, felt the warmth radiating from a mini-tower PC nearby, and gazed at a monitor regurgitating information from the PC’s own spinning disk, perhaps supported by bits streaming through an Ethernet cable connected to a wall outlet? Thank you, retrospectoscope. Nowadays, data wants to be free—meaning freedom of access at all times, on devices of all sizes. You and your data are no longer one—or, at least, all in one place. Your employees expect to receive not only instant access, but also expect to offer instant contributions, no matter where they’re located or how they create and connect.
“The mainstream-ization of cloud” neatly characterizes last year’s predictions. Did they come true? Yes—take a look at your developers’ expense reports if you need the evidence. Inexhaustible compute and storage resources are the stuff of developers’ dreams. In 2012, these dreams will enable an information explosion unlike any we’ve seen before. What we won’t see in 2012, or even beyond then, is inexhaustible connectivity. Network providers simply can’t keep up with the demand. And there’s that niggling little problem with the laws of physics—electrons and photons resolutely refuse to abandon their 186,000-mile-per-second languorousness.
As in biology, evolutionary patterns of technology reflect ever-increasing complexity and organization. Despite the complexity, cloud providers got their security acts organized—contemporary security certifications are not simple feats. In 2012, the cloud will mature from a science project under scrutiny to the primary commercial platform for application and data deployment. Complexity will grow but so will abstractions, as tools appear and mature for organizing application silos and data islands into cohesive instruments that support agile and immediate decision-making. The cloud is ready and waiting for the 2012 information explosion.
Now, back to that attitude adjustment prediction. In 2013, we’ll look back at 2012 and describe it as “the year of distributed recentralization,” where compute and storage became more centralized but access and creation became more distributed. IT departments seeking to remain relevant will shift their focus away from asserting control and toward helping business units achieve increased availability and improved performance, and will demonstrate success through metrics that matter to business. IT must lead, not follow, as organizations let go of their data so that they derive more value from it and add greater value to it than ever before.