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VMblog 2017 Virtualization and Cloud Prediction Series: HyperGrid’s Three #Predictions

By | January 3, 2017

HyperGrid CTO James Thomason shares his IT predictions in David Marshall’s 2017 Virtualization and Cloud Series (9th annual VMblog.com series exclusive.)

Prediction #1: In 2017 the CIO Role Will Become Software-Centric

Enterprises are at war with legions of software startups who are unbundling their portfolios. They have responded by hiring millions of consultants to create custom software of their own. According to Forrester Research, spending on custom software increased from $43B in 2011 to more than $136B in 2016.

To date, technology leaders have been willing to pay a premium to accelerate software innovation. It is becoming clear that software development is becoming a core competency for most businesses. It is inevitable that companies will seek to become more efficient at software development, and the best way to do so is by hiring their own software teams. 

As software development swings back in-house, creating common tools, standards, and frameworks will be essential to increase productivity across software teams. The CIO organization will be a natural place to evolve best practices while solving for legacy constraints. The future of the CIO role, therefore, will become increasingly software-centric. 

To focus on innovation and improvement, CIOs need to free themselves and their teams from tedious and wasteful work that confers no competitive advantage.  The era of do-IT-yourself will come to an end as traditional rack-and-stack infrastructure gives way to fully automated pre-integrated systems.  Technologies like containerization and hyperconvergence will ultimately help to enable the creation of a turn-key application platform that operates itself.     

Prediction #2: In 2017 Virtualization Gives Way to the Container Application Platform

A few years ago it seemed like DevOps was just becoming shorthand for continuous integration and deployment, but today DevOps seems to be gaining real momentum in companies worldwide.  Agility and Productivity is a core theme driving Development and IT teams today, and improving communication and collaboration between groups is the essential goal of the DevOps movement. 

There are DevOps organizations cropping up in enterprises everywhere with executives carrying new titles like VP of DevOps.  The intersection of this movement and the development of containerization technology will change the way that we all run applications at scale.

Containerization is an enabling technology for DevOps because it standardizes the packaging of software microservices.  Now ubiquitous in the Windows and Linux operating systems, Docker has paved the way for a profound transformation of DevOps. 

While Mesos and more recently Kubernetes have seen some early traction, and although containerization still faces some technical challenges like security, Docker is still well positioned to be the progenitor of a revolutionary technique.  Whether you call it a data center operating system, a container application platform, or serverless computing the future will include a lot of scale-out microservices packed in containers.  

Amazon wants you to send your data on a one-way semi truck to the public cloud. There you’ll be surrounded with services that reduce operational burden and increase developer productivity.  Of course, that comes at the price of using Amazon’s services, and at the very real risk of permanent lock-in.  How will an AWS Lambda application ever run in another cloud? It probably never will. Perhaps this is an acceptable risk for many companies, but you can think of Docker as an antidote for lock-in. 

Enterprises can more easily switch to competing cloud services if they build their applications using an open source container platform, and avoid a lot of the proprietary services Amazon and others are creating. 

While Amazon is spending billions of dollars building and operating infrastructure, it is surely spending far less on the creation of these higher level application services.  Strategically, this leaves Amazon vulnerable to a proliferation of competing application services. 

Much of the software that developers write is actually redundant and wasteful.  At the architectural level, many components of different applications are quite similar.  Although “Not Invented Here” is a condition that affects many development teams, the pressure to innovate will drive developers to save energy wherever they can. In 2017, there will be more variety of cloud application services offered across Amazon, Microsoft, Google, and other public clouds. 

I call them “Microservices-as-a-Service” just to be annoying. 

Prediction #3: 2017 Will be a Tough Year for IT Startups and Legacy IT Vendors Alike

As I was walking around the bustling VMWorld conference earlier this year, I could not help but notice the striking similarity of so many of the vendors in the remaining virtualization ecosystem. As the rising tide of public cloud consumption chips away at IT spending, it is hard to believe that many of these companies will survive 2017 and beyond.  How many back-up, replication, monitoring, deployment, self-service-portal tools will the IT world need?

I do not take the position that all IT spending is moving to public cloud – far from it.  But business’s relationship with IT infrastructure is changing.  Enterprises no longer have the time to devote to a menu-driven approach to IT infrastructure.  They need systems that are pre-integrated, automated, and work at scale.  As a vendor, unless you are helping enterprises move towards the model of infrastructure-as-a-service, it is going to be very tough in 2017 and beyond to get the PO signed for your magic beans.   

In 2017, we will see a high number of mergers and acquisitions, as revenue-starved start-ups get married to legacy IT vendors who are trying to transform.  Taking the Dell-EMC merger as a precedent, some of these deals may be quite large.  In a few years’ time, the IT vendor landscape will look radically different, with just a handful of the old names left at the party.

James Thomason
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James Thomason

CTO at HyperGrid
James Thomason is CTO of HyperGrid.He writes frequently on cloud computing, IT infrastructure, DevOps, and software. He joins HyperGrid from Dell, where as CTO he led the vision, technology strategy, and product roadmap for Dell Cloud Marketplace, an online platform that makes it easy for businesses to compare, consume, and control cloud services. Mr. Thomason joined Dell through the acquisition of Gale Technologies in 2012, where as CTO he headed the product roadmap, architecture, and engineering of the company’s flagship cloud and converged infrastructure automation software, GaleForce. Prior to joining Gale Technologies, Mr. Thomason was the CTO and Founder of Virtiv, a San Francisco cloud automation startup focused on Linux virtualization, acquired by Gale Technologies in 2011. For over 17 years, as a specialist in distributed systems and large-scale infrastructures, Mr. Thomason has been an entrepreneur and innovator at a number of notable Silicon Valley start-ups, including Exodus Communications, Digital Island, Netli, NetVMG, Netscaler, 3Leaf Systems, and Ning.
James Thomason
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