Computer trends for 2014

Here is my collection of trends and predictions for year 2014:

It seems that PC market is not recovering in 2014. IDC is forecasting that the technology channel will buy in around 34 million fewer PCs this year than last. It seem that things aren’t going to improve any time soon (down, down, down until 2017?). There will be no let-up on any front, with desktops and portables predicted to decline in both the mature and emerging markets. Perhaps the chief concern for future PC demand is a lack of reasons to replace an older system: PC usage has not moved significantly beyond consumption and productivity tasks to differentiate PCs from other devices. As a result, PC lifespan continue to increase. Death of the Desktop article says that sadly for the traditional desktop, this is only a matter of time before its purpose expires and that it would be inevitable it will happen within this decade. (I expect that it will not completely disappear).

When the PC business is slowly decreasing, smartphone and table business will increase quickly. Some time in the next six months, the number of smartphones on earth will pass the number of PCs. This shouldn’t really surprise anyone: the mobile business is much bigger than the computer industry. There are now perhaps 3.5-4 billion mobile phones, replaced every two years, versus 1.7-1.8 billion PCs replaced every 5 years. Smartphones broke down that wall between those industries few years ago – suddenly tech companies could sell to an industry with $1.2 trillion annual revenue. Now you can sell more phones in a quarter than the PC industry sells in a year.

After some years we will end up with somewhere over 3bn smartphones in use on earth, almost double the number of PCs. There are perhaps 900m consumer PCs on earth, and maybe 800m corporate PCs. The consumer PCs are mostly shared and the corporate PCs locked down, and neither are really mobile. Those 3 billion smartphones will all be personal, and all mobile. Mobile browsing is set to overtake traditional desktop browsing in 2015. The smartphone revolution is changing how consumers use the Internet. This will influence web design.


The only PC sector that seems to have some growth is server side. Microservers & Cloud Computing to Drive Server Growth article says that increased demand for cloud computing and high-density microserver systems has brought the server market back from a state of decline. We’re seeing fairly significant change in the server market. According to the 2014 IC Market Drivers report, server unit shipment growth will increase in the next several years, thanks to purchases of new, cheaper microservers. The total server IC market is projected to rise by 3% in 2014 to $14.4 billion: multicore MPU segment for microservers and NAND flash memories for solid state drives are expected to see better numbers.

Spinning rust and tape are DEAD. The future’s flash, cache and cloud article tells that the flash is the tier for primary data; the stuff christened tier 0. Data that needs to be written out to a slower response store goes across a local network link to a cloud storage gateway and that holds the tier 1 nearline data in its cache. Never mind software-defined HYPE, 2014 will be the year of storage FRANKENPLIANCES article tells that more hype around Software-Defined-Everything will keep the marketeers and the marchitecture specialists well employed for the next twelve months but don’t expect anything radical. The only innovation is going to be around pricing and consumption models as vendors try to maintain margins. FCoE will continue to be a side-show and FC, like tape, will soldier on happily. NAS will continue to eat away at the block storage market and perhaps 2014 will be the year that object storage finally takes off.

IT managers are increasingly replacing servers with SaaS article says that cloud providers take on a bigger share of the servers as overall market starts declining. An in-house system is no longer the default for many companies. IT managers want to cut the number of servers they manage, or at least slow the growth, and they may be succeeding. IDC expects that anywhere from 25% to 30% of all the servers shipped next year will be delivered to cloud services providers. In three years, 2017, nearly 45% of all the servers leaving manufacturers will be bought by cloud providers. The shift will slow the purchase of server sales to enterprise IT. Big cloud providers are more and more using their own designs instead of servers from big manufacturers. Data center consolidations are eliminating servers as well. For sure, IT managers are going to be managing physical servers for years to come. But, the number will be declining.

I hope that the IT business will start to grow this year as predicted. Information technology spends to increase next financial year according to N Chandrasekaran, chief executive and managing director of Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), India’s largest information technology (IT) services company. IDC predicts that IT consumption will increase next year to 5 per cent worldwide to $ 2.14 trillion. It is expected that the biggest opportunity will lie in the digital space: social, mobility, cloud and analytics. The gradual recovery of the economy in Europe will restore faith in business. Companies are re-imaging their business, keeping in mind changing digital trends.

The death of Windows XP will be on the new many times on the spring. There will be companies try to cash in with death of Windows XP: Microsoft’s plan for Windows XP support to end next spring, has received IT services providers as well as competitors to invest in their own services marketing. HP is peddling their customers Connected Backup 8.8 service to prevent data loss during migration. VMware is selling cloud desktop service. Google is wooing users to switch to ChromeOS system by making Chrome’s user interface familiar to wider audiences. The most effective way XP exploiting is the European defense giant EADS subsidiary of Arkoon, which promises support for XP users who do not want to or can not upgrade their systems.

There will be talk on what will be coming from Microsoft next year. Microsoft is reportedly planning to launch a series of updates in 2015 that could see major revisions for the Windows, Xbox, and Windows RT platforms. Microsoft’s wave of spring 2015 updates to its various Windows-based platforms has a codename: Threshold. If all goes according to early plans, Threshold will include updates to all three OS platforms (Xbox One, Windows and Windows Phone).


Amateur programmers are becoming increasingly more prevalent in the IT landscape. A new IDC study has found that of the 18.5 million software developers in the world, about 7.5 million (roughly 40 percent) are “hobbyist developers,” which is what IDC calls people who write code even though it is not their primary occupation. The boom in hobbyist programmers should cheer computer literacy advocates.IDC estimates there are almost 29 million ICT-skilled workers in the world as we enter 2014, including 11 million professional developers.

The Challenge of Cross-language Interoperability will be more and more talked. Interfacing between languages will be increasingly important. You can no longer expect a nontrivial application to be written in a single language. With software becoming ever more complex and hardware less homogeneous, the likelihood of a single language being the correct tool for an entire program is lower than ever. The trend toward increased complexity in software shows no sign of abating, and modern hardware creates new challenges. Now, mobile phones are starting to appear with eight cores with the same ISA (instruction set architecture) but different speeds, some other streaming processors optimized for different workloads (DSPs, GPUs), and other specialized cores.

Just another new USB connector type will be pushed to market. Lightning strikes USB bosses: Next-gen ‘type C’ jacks will be reversible article tells that USB is to get a new, smaller connector that, like Apple’s proprietary Lightning jack, will be reversible. Designed to support both USB 3.1 and USB 2.0, the new connector, dubbed “Type C”, will be the same size as an existing micro USB 2.0 plug.


  1. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Microsoft to expand business within the meaning of the Azure cloud to its base. For example, the Linux support is far more comprehensive.

    Microsoft’s general manager Satya Nadellan of the Azure supports the now five different Linux distribution. Today, about 20 percent of the Azure cloud of virtual machines are Linux-based systems.


  2. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Samsung Acknowledges and Fixes Bug On 840 EVO SSDs

    Samsung has issued a firmware fix for a bug on its popular 840 EVO triple-level cell SSD. The bug apparently slows read performance tremendously for any data more than a month old that has not been moved around on the NAND.

    Samsung delivers fix for SSD slowdowns

  3. Tomi Engdahl says:
    NPR: ’80s Ads Are Responsible For the Lack of Women Coders

    Back in the day, computer science was as legitimate a career path for women as medicine, law, or science. But in 1984, the number of women majoring in computing-related subjects began to fall, and the percentage of women is now significantly lower in CS than in those other fields.

  4. Tomi Engdahl says:
    IBM storage revenues sink: ‘We are disappointed,’ says CEO
    Time to put the storage biz up for sale?

    IBM’s storage revenues are continuing to slump, with the latest overall IBM results causing the abandonment of a long-term earnings/share goal.

  5. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Moving Towards Requirements-Driven Verification & Test

    Due to the rising complexity, time-to-market demands, and variability involved in building requirements of critical hardware and software systems, it is absolutely essential to have a robust requirements sign-off capability. It’s particularly applicable for systems where the financial cost of failure is significant, when systems are safety-critical, or where there is a high security factor.

    Current industry practice: “Mind the Gap”
    Even though a wide array of tools is available for analysing source code and testing executable code, there are no tools that automatically track the results of tests as they apply to requirements.

    Current common practice in requirements tracing stops at test definition, leaving unattended the need to ensure that requirements have tests defined against them and that these tests have successfully completed. This creates a gap between the requirements capture tools available and the features available in the wide array of test-only products.

    To ensure companies produce a correct product in a timely manner there is a clearly identified need for an approach and a tool that can address the key issues in requirements engineering and ensure requirements traceability through the complete data flow.

    Typical factors that can cause issues are requirement interpretation may change through the data flow, link to proofs of implementation/results is currently manual, visibility of requirements through the entire tree is complex and communication across domains (pre-silicon, post-silicon, FPGA, boards, firmware, software, and system) is complex.

    The requirements-driven approach
    The Requirements-Driven Verification and Test (RDVT) methodology enables project progress to be analyzed and managed by accumulating data on the status of verification and test metrics over the duration of the project and automatically relating these back to the specified requirements. In this way every functional requirement can be mapped to a proof of implementation. Additionally, any verification and test activity not relating to a requirement can be identified and questioned.

  6. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Mission Critical Operating System Linux With PRIMEQUEST
    Posted Oct 22, 2014 at 7:30 am

    Fujitsu, together with Red Hat Enterprise, offers high level security, high quality, and high scalability platforms. Combining both PRIMEQUEST and Red Hat Enterprise Linux make the best-in-class mission critical operating system. This article discusses the features, benefits, and advantages of LINUS Mission Critical.

    The most rigorous OS

    Fewer vulnerabilities and lower average vulnerability severity than UNIX OS
    Practical hack prevention well-blended in to the OS – application code change or recompilation is required
    No Trusted Extensions required as high security features are already embedded in Red Hat Enterprise Linux

    High performance and scalability

    Performance growth has skyrocketed with Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6, with 3.3 times the I/O throughput of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.5

  7. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Satya Nadella: I Want Microsoft to Be Loved by Users

    Microsoft is going through a major reorganization process and the new CEO Satya Nadella is the pioneer of a new approach that puts the focus on customers and the feedback they submit.

    In an interview with USA Today, Nadella explains that he wants to change the world’s perception of Microsoft, trying not only to make the software giant loved by users worldwide, but also to offer them the solutions they need to get things done.

    Nadella is only the third Microsoft CEO after Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer, but as compared to the first two, he is the first who tried to put consumers at the core of everything. In the Steve Ballmer-era, Microsoft was often criticized by users for not listening to their opinions, but that’s going to change with the new CEO at the helm of the company, Nadella promises.

  8. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Upstart brags about cheaper-than-Amazon private cold data cloud
    Storiant man asks you to check out their racks

    Storiant is an object storage startup which claims its customers can use its technology to store petabyte-scale data in a private cloud at a price below public cloud storage. How does it pull this trick off?

    A dozen pennies per gig for a year certainly sounds cheap as chips.

    The product is a hardware array and ZFS-based software. The hardware features rack enclosures of desktop drives and shingled media drives. The firm claims its “Storiant Power Governor reduces the active drive time to 10 per cent or less, effectively doubling the life of the drive.”

  9. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Who’s that at the door, storage box flingers? It’s the hard drive makers. No, they are not smiling
    Nice treasure chest ye have there. Shame if it fell overboard

    Hard drive makers are, metaphorically speaking, shifting from being gunsmiths to arms dealers. In other words, their customers, who take the drives and put them in boxes, better watch out.

    Let’s take a look at where the industry is heading:

    Seagate acquires Xyratex and sells its ClusterStor HPC and enterprise big data arrays.
    HGST develops an object storage array with Amplidata and Avere.
    Seagate acquires LaCie and sells its range of desktop and rack-mount storage systems.
    Seagate brings out a line of NAS boxes.
    WD’s brings out a NAS product line.

    Now, of course, the drive manufacturers say they are not competing with their mainstream storage array makers, such as Dell, EMC, Fujitsu, HDS, HP, IBM, and NetApp, nor their other storage array and enclosure-building customers like DotHill, Imation (Nexsan), Huawei, Synology and the other Taiwanese firms.

    To which we say, don’t bank on that promise. The drivesmiths are in intense competition with each other and are building commodity items in the millions with every point of margin fought over like hyenas scrapping over a carcass.

  10. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Microsoft and Dell’s cloud in a box: Instant Azure for the data centre
    A less painful way to run Microsoft’s private cloud

    Two words were missing from Microsoft’s cloudy event in San Francisco yesterday, where CEO Satya Nadella and Cloud and Enterprise VP Scott Guthrie presented an update to the company’s Azure and hybrid cloud strategy. Those two words were System Center.

    Instead, Nadella and Guthrie talked about another way to build a private cloud, using a cloud-in-a-box offering from Microsoft and Dell called the Cloud Platform System (CPS). This is a private deployment of technology from Microsoft’s public cloud which you install in your own data centre.

    The software is based on an existing product, the Azure Pack, while Dell provides the hardware: a rack stuffed with 32 Dell PowerEdge C6220 II servers for Hyper-V hosts, additional PowerEdge servers for managing storage, and 4 PowerVault MD3060e enclosures for HDD and SSD arrays.

    You will be able to buy from one to four 42U racks. A full four-rack setup will offer up to 8,000 VMs (each with two virtual CPU cores, 1.75GB RAM and 50GB disk) and 0.7PB of workload storage (there is additional storage used for backup).

    Fault-tolerance is built in at every level, including networking. Patch management, monitoring, backup and data recovery are all integrated.

    Azure Pack is a subset of the software used to run Azure, configured to run on private infrastructure.

  11. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Can Marten Mickos make ‘Linux for the cloud’ work for HP?
    The ‘not-another-Unix play’ play

    Hewlett-Packard didn’t just buy cloudy startup Eucalyptus Systems to build its fledgling OpenStack cloud biz, it also bought Marten Mickos, the firm’s Finnish CEO.

    HP isn’t the first to pay for Mickos’ expertise – that was Sun Microsystems, when it acquired his venture previous venture, MySQL AB, for $1bn in 2008

    Just who is this Mickos bloke and why do big systems companies like him and what he has to offer?

    Eucalyptus lets you build clouds using APIs compatible with those of Amazon Web Services – both for EC2 on compute and S3 on storage. OpenStack was spun up in 2010 to provide a set of open-source APIs for those who didn’t wish to use AWS.

    HP has also given Mickos a seat at the top table: he’s been made general manager of HP’s Cloud organisation, tasked with building HP’s OpenStack-based Helion cloud. Helion is HP’s supported spin of OpenStack code. Mickos is reporting straight to the queen herself, HP CEO Meg Whitman.

  12. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Entity Framework goes ‘code first’ as Microsoft pulls visual design tool
    Visual Studio database diagramming’s out the window

    Microsoft will retire the visual design tool for its Entity Framework (EF) database tool in the upcoming version 7, in favour of a text-based “code first” approach.

    Entity Framework is an object-relational mapping (ORM) tool. It lets developers work at a higher level of abstraction, coding with application objects rather than having to think about the SQL (Structured Query Language) that is sent to the database engine. In principle, an ORM can save developers from writing a lot of tedious code, speeding production of business applications.

    EF in versions up to 6 (the current iteration) supports an XML-based model (stored in .edmx files) together with a diagramming tool for Visual Studio, Microsoft’s all-purpose development tool. Using the visual designer, you can design a database, complete with relationships and constraints, and then apply it to a database to generate the tables and other elements. You can also generate a diagram from an existing database.

    Microsoft will retire the visual design tool for its Entity Framework (EF) database tool in the upcoming version 7, in favour of a text-based “code first” approach.

    Entity Framework is an object-relational mapping (ORM) tool. It lets developers work at a higher level of abstraction, coding with application objects rather than having to think about the SQL (Structured Query Language) that is sent to the database engine. In principle, an ORM can save developers from writing a lot of tedious code, speeding production of business applications.

    EF in versions up to 6 (the current iteration) supports an XML-based model (stored in .edmx files) together with a diagramming tool for Visual Studio, Microsoft’s all-purpose development tool. Using the visual designer, you can design a database, complete with relationships and constraints, and then apply it to a database to generate the tables and other elements. You can also generate a diagram from an existing database.

  13. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Ello Raises $5.5 Million to Grow Its Ad-Free Social Network

    Ello, the ad-free social network that promises users it will never sell their data, has raised $5.5 million in new venture funding, according to CEO Paul Budnitz.

  14. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Satya Nadella wanted cloud, mobile first – Microsoft gives him Windows, Office first
    New areas show growth, but still only 13% of the profit pie

    Microsoft reported revenues and earnings that topped analysts’ estimates for the first quarter of its fiscal 2015, buoyed by strong growth in cloud and mobility. But its solid-looking numbers belied ongoing softness in its traditional core markets.

    Total revenues for the three months ending on September 30 were $23.20bn, a 25 per cent year-on-year increase but flat from the previous sequential quarter. Earnings were $0.54 per diluted share.

    About those revenues, though. Microsoft crowed that revenues from its Consumer divisions were up 47 per cent, year-over-year, to $10.96 billion. But $2.61bn of those were from the Phone Hardware subdivision, which didn’t exist in the year-ago quarter. Ignoring those ex-Nokia sales, Consumer revenues were only up 12 per cent.

    Windows sales to businesses weren’t so hot, either. The all-important Commercial Licensing subdivision – which includes volume sales of client-side Windows, Windows Server, and Windows Embedded, plus various tools and server software – saw revenues of $9.87bn, which was up just 3 per cent from last year’s quarter and down 12 per cent sequentially.

  15. Tomi Engdahl says:
    How Sony, Intel, and Unix Made Apple’s Mac a PC Competitor

    In 2007, Sony’s supply chain lessons, the network effect from the shift to Intel architecture, and a better OS X for developers combined to renew the Mac’s growth. The network effects of the Microsoft Wintel ecosystem that Rappaport explained 20 years ago in the Harvard Business Review are no longer a big advantage.

    How Sony, Intel, and Unix made Apple’s Mac a PC competitor

    Recent numbers show Apple’s Mac as a rare bright spot in an otherwise bleak PC industry. It’s come a long way.

  16. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Microsoft Cloud Strength and Hardware Progress Drive Record First-Quarter Revenue
    Strong performance across commercial and consumer segments delivers revenue of $23.20 billion.
  17. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Venture Capitalists’ Confidence Is Waning — or So It Seems

    A quarterly survey that gauges the confidence level in Silicon Valley shows that venture capitalists downgraded their enthusiasm in the third quarter. But that doesn’t necessarily mean the Bay Area’s big-spending climate is about to change.

    Still, Camnice threw sun on what little dark clouds were gathering over the industry.

    “[A] still strong if moderating exit market for venture-backed businesses, healthy levels of investment and fundraising, rampant disruptive innovation, and the ever present belief in the determination of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs kept sentiment at a relatively high level.”

    That barely wavering enthusiasm is fueled in part by persistently low interest rates. Pension funds, university endowments and other big investors continue to pump money into equities and venture capital – in fact, venture firms are on pace to raise more money in any year since 2007.

  18. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Microsoft Eyes Expanding FPGA Role
    Network chips not keeping pace

    Microsoft is exploring the possibility of putting an FPGA on every server in its datacenters. It’s only a rough concept right now, but it could ease a very real pain point on the horizon.

    The company runs more than a million servers, and it sees a network bottleneck coming sometime in the next three years, Kushagra Vaid, vice president of sever engineering at Microsoft, said in a keynote at the Linley Tech Processor Conference here.

    “We are in position now where none of the silicon providers can keep up with the rate of change in Azure,” one of the largest of 200 workloads Microsoft’s datacenters run, he said. The networks need “new features for programmability, for flow control, [and virtual] switches. It’s changing so fast the network silicon can’t keep up with it, so that’s raising the question of going with an FPGA.”

    Earlier this year Microsoft announced plans to use FPGA cards in a significant, but limited way to accelerate ranking of its Bing searches. The additional performance was greater than the cost of the custom Altera Stratix V cards the company designed.

    Whether such a strategy will work to deliver new networking speeds and features remains to be seen.

    What’s clear is the looming pain point. In the past four years servers in Microsoft’s datacenters have shifted from using 1- to 10- to (most recently) 40-Gbit/s interfaces. All new servers the company buys now use four 10G chips to send data at 40G rates to a top-of-rack switch, a rate most silicon vendors had anticipated to be used only for top-of-rack switches.

    Not only must the network chips be fast, they are being asked to handle an increasingly wide array of functions.

    For example, Vaid described the need to perform real-time encryption at 40 Gbit/s rates on all data leaving any of its 15 global datacenters.

    “That’s a huge amont of processing power. We have done studies showing it takes 16 of 24 cores in an Intel Ivy Bridge server processor… That’s not very economical, so we have a need for offloading crypto. This is a whole new level of hardware design that needs to be done.”


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