Monday, January 5, 2015

2014 is finally closed, long live 2015 - What Now!

2014 is finally closed, long live 2015 but what a year 2014 has been for the tech industry.

With some of the worst cyber attacks in history, it will be a year to forget for many, raising data security straight to the top of the agenda for most CIOs.

Cloud adoption has continued to increase, helped in no small way by the pricing wars between Amazon, Google and Microsoft.

When it comes to the public sector, there has been a simmering tension between Whitehall, consultants and large suppliers on the back of several large contract problems.

So what does 2015 hold in store for us? IT Pro asked analysts and industry experts for their views.

1. The Internet of Things will finally make sense

Bola Rotibi, research director at analyst house Creative Intellect Consulting (CIC), believes the hype around the Internet of Things (IoT) will deflate.

She says: "The industry and market will flounder in trying to grasp exactly the definition of IoT and why it really is different from what has been evolving from the machine to machine world.

"In fact the initial hype of IoT will quickly subside as the reality of the fact that it touches so many industries that it cannot be determined the difference of what is actually an IoT market and the general evolution of every other technology sector."

But colleague Clive Howard says that the Internet of Things (IoT) will start to make more sense for businesses as more industry use cases come out of it.

“IoT will continue to be big news but we will start to see a lot more sense coming through,” he says. “Less about vending machines and thermostats and more about industrial applications that provide real value. I think generally we’re going to see more tech stories in the enterprise space whether mobile or IoT.”

Forrester Research believes the IoT trend will help CIOs  focus on longer term business change rather than cost-saving exercises.

The research firm’s Frank Gillett says: “Though most early IoT implementations are driven by line-of-business executives seeking specific operational efficiency improvements, the CIO’s tech management teams will eventually be drawn in to help with security, networks, software integration, interoperability, and analytics.

“Over the longer term, CIOs need to anticipate where business leaders will go after achieving operational efficiency improvements and plan for technology and infrastructure to support engaging with customers in new ways, creating new revenue streams, and offering new business models.”

2. Beware the second coming of the systems integrator

Georgina O’Toole, of analyst group TechMarketView, believes that after two years of trying to break free of the shackles of Big IT providers, the government will turn to those with system integrators (SIs) again.

“From collectively being on the ‘naughty step’, the Cabinet Office has accepted that they require suppliers with deep knowledge of the public sector to guide them on what will be a difficult transformational journey over the next few years,” she predicts.

“In the world of ‘digital’, systems integrators will be the bolt that holds everything together and helps the public sector ‘Join the Dots’.

“The large SIs are taking this approach to developing their business outside of Whitehall as well – using their integration skills to, for example, take data analytics capabilities to the table and open up new opportunities.”

She believes this reliance on SIs will grow as more SMBs work as subcontractors for large IT firms handling a public sector contract.

3. Apple Pay will introduce new cyber threat opportunities

Security firm Trend Micro believes the much-awaited launch of Apple Pay, Apple’s mobile payments app, will bring huge risks to consumers using it, because it has not been trialled in the real world.

“Apple Pay is not alone in the market – other payment systems have or will be introduced by other companies and trade associations,” the firm says. “Not all of these payment systems have been thoroughly tested to withstand real-world threats, and we may see attacks targeting mobile commerce in 2015."

4. There will be an 80% chance you’ll suffer a cyber attack

As Sony Pictures knows, the price to pay for suffering a cyber attack that results in a data leak is high, the film studio has seen embarrassing emails, feature films and staff’s personal details enter the public domain.

It’s 'cancelled not-cancelled' anti-North Korea movie, The Interview after hackers threatened ‘9/11’ style retaliations.

But even with new EU Data Regulations set to charge up to five per cent of a firm’s annual turnover (or up to €100 million) for breaches,

Forrester still believes eight out of ten enterprises will suffer a breach next year, whether they find out or not.

It says: “Forrester believes that in the coming year, breaches of sensitive data such as intellectual property and customer records will continue.

Given that more S&R pros will invest in detection and response capabilities, more security teams will be in a better position to detect and respond to breaches.

“Thus, we feel confident that while at least 60 per cent of enterprises will discover a breach, the actual number of breached entities will be much higher, as high as 80 per cent or more.”

5. Newbie 'Containerisation' will disrupt IT departments

According to 451 Research, 2014 saw an “explosion of activity” around Docker, the young upstart company specialising in containerisation.

The open-source technology of Docker enables sysadmins and developers to automatically deploy applications inside software containers, allowing those processes to run in isolation.

“[We] anticipate disruption in IT departments in 2015 as they start to use Docker,” says 451 Research. “While containerisation technology has existed for years, Docker is a more modern, lightweight form that is widely viewed as a next-generation virtualization technology

“451 analysts believe Docker will be adopted by large enterprises to work alongside, as well as replace, traditional  virtual machines because of its management and efficiency advantages.

“Docker has not yet achieved parity with traditional VMs in some critical areas, including orchestration and security, and a large number of vendors are rapidly addressing this.”

6. Private IaaS providers will compete with Amazon

Forrester believes the saturated public cloud infrastructure market will continue to be popular with customers looking to scale and benefit from economies of scale.

However, it predicts that while smaller infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) providers cannot compete, they will try to offer rival deployments in the private cloud.

“Many other cloud IaaS providers are turning to the possibilities of hosted private cloud IaaS and on-premises private cloud IaaS as possible ways to compete, since they have gotten limited traction in the public cloud IaaS market,” it says.

“Offerings where the service is identical to the customer and operated uniformly, whether multitenant or single tenant, on-premises or in the provider's data centre — are potentially attractive to many customers.”

It sees this development as the only way customers with a requirement for on-premise infrastructure can go to the cloud.

Additionally, Forrester believes 2015 will see Microsoft’s cloud business overtake its on-premise division in profitability.

“Microsoft will generate more margin dollars from cloud-based services than its traditional on-premises applications and Windows,” the analyst house predicts. “Under Nadella’s mandate, commercial product development teams are focused on driving innovation into the cloud versions of its properties first (on-premises second).

“And its sales engines are all rewarded for pushing as much cloud into each enterprise license agreement as possible.”

7. Citizens will demand greater control over their own data

Consumers are becoming increasingly wary of how their data is used by companies, believes customer identity management platform Gigya.

Its own survey found 80 per cent of people have abandoned online registration pages because they did not like sharing the information they were being asked to share.

“Businesses must put transparency at the forefront of their data practices in 2015 and proactively address these privacy concerns by letting customers know upfront what data they want to collect, explaining how it will be used, and allowing them to easily opt in and out,” the company warns.

8. Wearables, in their current form, will fail

While the tech industry awaits the launch of the Apple Watch and Google Glass (still) expectantly, no wearable has changed the way we live yet.

EMC’s president of products, Jeremy Burton, predicts wearables will almost entirely die off in 2015, only surviving by serving niche markets.

“Apple fanatics worldwide expect wearables will go mainstream following the emergence of the Apple Watch, but I’m not so sure,” he says.

“Let’s face it, nobody under 35 wears a watch anymore – they rely on their smartphones for everything.  A lot of wearables will fail, with the guys wearing their Bluetooth ear piece all day propping up the market.

“Now, that said, not all wearable technology will end in abject failure. Standalone, niche wearables that shake up industries for the better – such as FitBits or Jawbones that monitor vitals or health activity – will continue to flourish and be incorporated into sports clothing, shoes and equipment. “

CIC’s Howard broadly agrees. He says: “A lot of the heat comes out of wearables [in 2015]. There will be many more devices released but I don’t see adoption sky-rocketing and I think vendors will start to temper their expectations.

“We’re already seeing this with Google Glass. Wearables are more of an industry product than consumer. Unless someone discovers that killer app.”

9. Data scientists will become 'popular' as industry specialists

As firms wake up to the potential of big data, the role of data scientists has been a big topic of conversation in 2014.

And Hitachi Data Systems CTO for EMEA, Bob Plumridge, believes firms will start to hire them more and more as they discover just how much technical expertise is required to make sense of – and use – big data.

“They will also need to understand the business value of the data being generated and analysed in a specific sector,” he adds.

“By 2020, all businesses will need their employees to have the technical skills we associate with a data scientist today. The problem we currently face is that there is a significant skills gap in the UK for workers with the advanced data skills to meet business needs.”

This will be a tough challenge to solve in only five years and the development of UK tech talent must continue to be high on the agenda for both the government and businesses alike.

Next year will also see firms classify data more clearly, Plumridge contends.

“The issue for IT teams [right now] is that they are going in data blind. Often data isn’t classified at the point of creation, leaving businesses with no way of knowing whether they are looking at HR, sales or customer data.

“With the majority of data holding little to no value, the importance of classification is paramount to ensure businesses retain the crucial 20 per cent.”