IT seems to be growing again. Gartner forecasts worldwide IT spending will increase 4.5% this year to $3.68 trillion, driven by artificial intelligence, big data analytics, blockchain technology, and the IoT.
Digital transformations are fashionable. You won’t find an enterprise that isn’t leveraging some combination of cloud, analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning to better serve customers or streamline operations. But here’s a hard truth about digital transformations: Many are failing outright or are in danger of failing. Typical reasons for failing are not understanding what is digital transformation (different people understand it differently), lack of CEO sponsorship, talent deficiency, resistance to change. Usually a technology-first approach to digital transformation is a recipe for disaster. Truing to just push trough technically unfeasible transformation idea is another way to fail.
The digital era requires businesses to move with speed, and that is causing IT organizations to rethink how they work. A lot of IT is moving off premises to SaaS providers and the public cloud. Research outfit 451 standout finding was that 60 per cent of the surveyed enterprises say they will run the majority of their IT outside the confines of enterprise data centres by the end of 2019. From cost containment to hybrid strategies, CIOs are getting more creative in taking advantage of the latest offerings and the cloud’s economies of scale.
In 2018 there seems to be a growing Software Engineering Talent Shortage in both quantity and quality. For the past nine years, software engineers have been at the top of the hardest to fill jobs in the United States. And same applies to many other countries including Finland. Forrester projects that firms will pay 20% above market for quality engineering talent in 2018. Particularly in-demand skills are data scientists, high-end software developers and information security analysts. There is real need for well-studied, experienced engineers with a formal and deep understanding of software engineering. Recruiting and retaining tech talent remains IT’s biggest challenge today. Most CIOs are migrating applications to public cloud services, offloading operations and maintenance of computing, storage and other capabilities so they can reallocate staff to focus on what’s strategic to their business.
The enterprise no longer is at the center of the IT universe. It seems that reports of the PC’s demise have been greatly exaggerated and the long and painful decline in PC sales of the last half-decade as tailed off, at least momentarily. As the sales of smartphones and tablets have risen, consumers had not stopped using PCs, but merely replaced them less often. FT reports that PC is set to stage a comeback in 2018, after the rise of smartphones sent sales of desktop and laptop computers into decline in recent years. If that does not happen, then PC market could return to growth in 2019. But the end result is that PC is no longer seen as the biggest growth driver for chip makers. An extreme economic shift has chipmakers focused on hyperscale clouds.
Microservices are talked about a lot. Software built using microservices is easier to deliver and maintain than the big and brittle architectures or old; these were difficult to scale and might take years to build and deliver. Microservices are small and self-contained, so therefore easy to wrap up in a virtual machine or a container (but don’t have to live in containers). Public cloud providers increasingly differentiate themselves through the features and services they provide. But it turns out that microservices are far from being one-size-fit-for-all silver bullet for IT challenges.
Containers will try to make break-trough again in 2018. Year 2017 was supposed to be the year of containers! It wasn’t? Oops. Maybe year 2018 is better. Immature tech still has a bunch of growing up to do. Linux Foundation’s Open Containers Initiative (OCI) finally dropped two specifications that standardise how containers operate at a low level. The needle in 2018 will move towards containers running separately from VMs, or entirely in place of VMs. Kubernates gains traction. It seems that the containers are still at the point where the enterprise is waiting to embrace them.
Serverless will be talked about. Serverless computing is a cloud computing execution model in which the cloud provider dynamically manages the allocation of machine resources. Serverless architectures refer to applications that significantly depend on third-party services (knows as Backend as a Service or “BaaS”) or on custom code that’s run in ephemeral containers (Function as a Service or “FaaS”), the best known vendor host of which currently is AWS Lambda.
Automation is what everybody with many computers wants. Infrastructure automation creates and destroys basic IT resources such as compute instances, storage, networking, DNS, and so forth. Security automation helps keeping systems secure. It bosses want to create self-driving private clouds. The journey to self-driving clouds needs to be gradual. The vision of the self-driving cloud makes sense, but the task of getting from here to there can seem daunting. DevOps automation with customer control: Automatic installation and configuration, Integration that brings together AWS and VMWare, workflows migration controlled by users, Self-service provisioning based on templates defined by users, Advanced machine learning to automate processes, and Automated upgrades.
Linux is center of many cloud operations: Google and Facebook started building their own gear and loading it with their own software. Google has it’s own Linux called gLinux. Facebook networking uses Linux-based FBOSS operating system. Even Microsoft has developed its own Linux for cloud operations. Software-defined networking (SDN) is a very fine idea.
Memory business boomed in 2017 for both NAND and DRAM. The drivers for DRAM are smartphones and servers. Solid-state drives (SSDs) and smartphones are fueling the demand for NAND. NAND Market Expected to Cool in Q1 from the crazy year 2017, but it is still growing well because there is increasing demand. Memory — particular DRAM — was largely considered a commodity business.
Lots of 3D NAND will go to solid state drives in 2018. IDC forecasts strong growth for the solid-state drive (SSD) industry as it transitions to 3D NAND. SSD industry revenue is expected to reach $33.6 billion in 2021, growing at a CAGR of 14.8%. Sizes of memory chips increase as number of layer in 3D NAND are added. The traditional mechanical hard disk based on magnetic storage is in hard place in competition, as the speed of flash-based SSDs is so superior
There is search for faster memory because modern computers, especially data-center servers that skew heavily toward in-memory databases, data-intensive analytics, and increasingly toward machine-learning and deep-neural-network training functions, depend on large amounts of high-speed, high capacity memory to keep the wheels turning. The memory speed has not increased as fast as the capacity. The access bandwidth of DRAM-based computer memory has improved by a factor of 20x over the past two decades. Capacity increased 128x during the same period. For year 2018 DRAM remains a near-universal choice when performance is the priority. There is search going on for a viable replacement for DRAM. Whether it’s STT-RAM or phase-change memory or resistive RAM, none of them can match the speed or endurance of DRAM.
PCI Express 4.0 is ramping up. PCI-standards consortium PCI-SIG (Special Interest Group) has ratified and released specifications for PCIe 4.0 Specification Version 1. Doubling PCIe 3.0’s 8 GT/s (~1 GB/s) of bandwidth per lane, PCIe 4.0 offers a transfer rate of 16 GT/s. The newest version of PCI Express will start appearing on motherboards soon. PCI-SIG has targeted Q2 2019 for releasing the finalized PCIe 5.0 specification, so PCIe 4.0 won’t be quite as long-lived as PCIe 3.0 has been. So we’ll See PCIe 4.0 this year in use and PCIe 5.0 in 2019.
USB type C is on the way to becoming the most common PC and peripheral interface. The USB C connector has become faster more commonplace than any other earlier interface. USB C is very common on smartphones, but the interface is also widespread on laptops. Sure, it will take some time before it is the most common. In 2021, the C-type USB connector has almost five billion units, IHS estimates.
It seems that the after-shocks of Meltdown/Spectre vulnerabilities on processors will be haunting us for quite long time this year. It is now three weeks since The Register revealed the chip design flaws that Google later confirmed and the world still awaits certainty about what it will take to get over the silicon slip-ups. Last pieces of farce has been that Intel Halts Spectre, Meltdown CPU Patches Over Unstable Code and Linux creator Linus Torvalds criticises Intel’s ‘garbage’ patches. Computer security will not be the same after all this has been sorted out.
What’s Next With Computing? IBM discusses AI, neural nets and quantum computing. Many can agree that those technologies will be important. Public cloud providers increasingly provide sophisticated flavours of data analysis and increasingly Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI). Central Banks Are Using Big Data to Help Shape Policy. Over the past few years, machine learning (ML) has evolved from an interesting new approach that allows computers to beat champions at chess and Go, into one that is touted as a panacea for almost everything. 2018 will be the start of what could be a longstanding battle between chipmakers to determine who creates the hardware that artificial intelligence lives on.
ARM processor based PCs are coming. As Microsoft and Qualcomm jointly announced in early December that the first Windows 10 notebooks with ARM-based Snapdragon 835 processors will be officially launched in early 2018, there will be more and more PCs with ARM processor architecture hitting the market. Digitimes Research expects that ARM-based models may dominate lower-end PC market, but don’t hold your breath on this. It is rumoured that “wireless LTE connectivity” function will be incorporated into all the entry-level Window 10 notebooks with ARM processors, branded by Microsoft as the “always-connected devices.” HP and Asustek have released some ARM-based notebooks with Windows 10S.