Every time there is a new technological trend, you get market researchers asking questions to CxOs about what they think about the trend and afterwards selling the results for lots of money to whomever wants to buy the report. However if you collect reports like this and start comparing them you will see a clear trend. To the question, do you fully understand the capabilities of the new trend, lots of people will say no. To the question, what part of your business will be impacted, you will see revenue, cost, efficiency and innovation being mentioned. To the question, where are you with projects regarding the new trend, the answer is planning or evaluating, prototyping at most.
If you see this pattern, then DON’T buy the report. CxOs are not magical people that automagically understand new trends and will tell the industry what to do. They actually have no clue.
In 2010, would you rather have had the Oracle CTO set your cloud strategy or the Amazon CTO? Would you rather have the Oracle CTO define your CRM strategy or Salesforce? Oracle vs Cloudera or Spark for Big Data? Oracle vs Docker? Oracle vs Golang? Your answer should be Oracle denied the existence of cloud, SaaS, Big Data, containers, more productive programming languages, etc. until the market obliged them to embrace them. So if Oracle, which is supposed to be a leader in enterprise software, does not understand the latest IT trends, why do you think that a CTO from a telecom, retailer, airline company, etc. would better understand these IT innovations and their impact on business? The truth is that none of them does. Not even Gartner does. Gartner and others make a summary of what is happening in the industry after the first battles have been fought. They depend on collective group thinking to make a “magic quadrant” or a summary of where the herd is moving. However the real innovators already know since one to three years ahead if something major is about to happen and they have prepared solutions for this new reality. By the time the majority has realized there is a problem or opportunity, the visionary innovators already have a solution in the market. If you want to know the future you need to follow the smart elite and read what they are very excited about.
Devops have been singing the songs of Docker since early to mid 2014. Smart engineers looked at what the problems the innovators were having and focused on solving them. The end result is that Docker orchestration started fast replacing PaaS before anybody in a corporate office heard about Docker in the first place.
Current trends are Hadoop being replaced by Spark being replaced by Flink. Java is uncool, Golang and Rust are the future. Bitcoin’s blockchain will replace lots of centrally managed markets.
So if a Gartner, Accenture or Siemens tell you what IoT will look like then be careful because you don’t know what you don’t know. You should look for visions from people that don’t focus on what “the industry thinks” but instead ask the smart elite how they would solve your industry’s main problems. Chances are they create a blue ocean strategy if you listen to them. Your competitors will instead all be focusing on what their regular supplier offers which is often the same solution as five years back after it has been cloud-washed, big-data-washed, IoT-washed, etc. Do you agree mister Oracle?
The “Ectors Principle” says that it is impossible to be excellent at hardware, software and services. You have to pick one and at most two but you can’t have all three.
Why can’t you be excellent at all?
Hardware is a discipline that requires you to define everything upfront and then to produce in as large volumes as possible to get to the lowest price per unit. It is a volume business with low margins.
Services requires people that understand customers ‘ problems and try to find solutions for them. It focuses on integration, customization, support, etc. To double revenue, you need to double the workforce.
Software is the art of combining easy to use solutions, with extensible and customizable features at an optimized and acceptable level of performance and availability. Smarter programmers can win from armies of dumb programmers.
So how can you combine a hardware platform that needs to have all features prebaked, with a people business that focuses on adding new features for each customer, with a software in which the art is to offer more with less features because feature overload kills ease of use, performance and availability? The simple answer is you can’t do them all well. You have to pick.
Who is trying to prove the “Ectors Principle” wrong?
IBM, HP, etc. come to mind when the words hardware, software and services are mentioned. How are they doing? BAD!!! Please name 5 HP software products that you find inspiring! IBM at least realized that being excellent at all three is hard and sold its PC and server business to focus on services and software. A word of advise: spin-off Power processors as an independent company!
Apple? Apple is not in the services business because you can’t have a closed software and hardware ecosystem and try to customize it to everybody’s needs.
Google? Google tried hardware with Motorola (failure!) and Nest but is not focusing on services because they don’t want to have to hire double the amount of people to double revenue.
Amazon? Hardware is proving difficult. Enterprises cloud services was a stretch.
General Motors? Do you like the software that comes with cars. Would you call it excellent?
Cisco, Ericsson, Huawei, Nokia, etc.? Software defined networks will kill their hardware margins in the next months/years. Alacatel Lucent just threw in the towel. More consolidation to follow.
General Electric? Wait until everything becomes “smart”. If GE is smart then their smart fridges have app stores with apps and peripherals from others. If not it will not be pretty.
Focus on one
Ideally you focus on one discipline and have another one as a hobby at most. Trying to do all will result in a weak link in the chain. The exact link that competitive startups will focus on to bring the imperium on its knees…
Today’s networks are mainly based on hardware acceleration of a limited set of low-level routing rules. This was perfect in a well established world of a limited set of well known protocols traveling mainly from servers to clients. The new reality is that software has become elastic, data has grown big, Internet of Things clients are growing exponentially & are very chatty, streaming 4K video will be the norm, etc. Networks now need to become software defined if they want to survive this new reality.
Is SDN on top of private cloud the solution?
The answer is only partially. There are just too many data plane heavy use cases that still need hardware acceleration in the short term. Too many networking software is not ready for scale out and too many layers of hypervisors and other complex abstractions make current solutions too slow.
The solution is divide and conquer. Just like transactional database are still around after a wave of NoSQL, NewSQL, streaming analytics, graph databases, etc. So will next-generation networking need a mix of best in breed virtualized and appliance-based solutions to each problem.
Networking White Boxes or SDNA
Software defined networking appliances will be the first big innovation in 2015 to be adopted at scale. These boxes combine network acceleration with software-defined networking applications. In the beginning this will mean that standard networking ASICs can be reprogrammed in more dynamic ways. Good examples are the Facebook Wedge and Six Pack. This is however just the start. Expect multi-core processors that can handle many ports at the same time or new versions of ASICs and FPGAs that are more optimised for SDN logic.
Just like IT and Cloud got a big Devops boost through orchestration tooling, so will network orchestration tools allow for virtualized SDNs and physical SDNA to be orchestrated seamlessly. These will likely be additions to existing devop and orchestration tools instead of a new set of tools.
Software Define Radio
Instead of using cables and broadband solutions which are expensive to install, expect the next generation of software define radio to allow for end-devices to communicate with their peers and hubs a lot more freely, optimised and ad-hoc. This means that the next-generation of networking needs to take into account a reality of wired and wireless. Also expect protocols to evolve. With software defined radio it will be possible that new wireless standards emerge from small projects on Github that become overnight successes. Yaml, Json, Node.js, WebRTC, etc. were not born in a standardisation group. They became standards through usage. Expect the next generation of networking protocols to come from small super smart startups.
Networking Apps & App Stores
At the moment you buy an appliance that comes with an embedded operating system and a set of pre-installed networking logic. At most you can install plugins. The near future will see networking apps be sold via networking app stores on SDNA from a third-party. Expect new networking startups to become overnight successes because they no longer need to ship atoms worldwide, they just need to upload bits to an app store.
Reshuffling of the networking and telecom market
With software, operating system and hardware being separated, the old networking industry rules get rewritten. It used to be enough to be good at 2 or at least 1 out of three. Excellent hardware, an ok operating system and some good software was enough to be market leader. Now no longer. Best-in-class can be easily obtained in each category. The problem will be when revenue streams come from software maintenance but the supplier actually was only excellent in hardware. These suppliers will see their revenue disappear overnight when others start winning the networking software battle. Expect also the networking services business to change. If hardware, operating system and many networking apps substitute the single vendor approach then very likely IT system integrators will have a better shot at dominating the services market then traditional network vendors. Networking will have become more like IT. Even telecom networking. So IT system integrators have everything to win by accelerating this trend.
Expect many new technologies and business changes that will make new winners and old losers in the next 24 months. My money is on the network software innovators to come out winning…
1. Block chain
The block chain is the heart of digital currencies like Bitcoin. What most don’t realise yet is that the block chain will be used for managing everything from domain names, artist royalties, escrow contracts, auctions, lotteries, etc. You can do away with middlemen whose only reason of being is making sure they keep on getting a large cut in the value chain. Unless a middlemen or governmental institution adds real value, they are in danger of being block chained into the past.
2. Biometric security
A good example is the Nymi, a wearable that listens to your unique heart beat patterns and creates a unique identity. Even if people steal your Nymi, it is of no use since they need your heart to go with it.
3. Deep belief networks
Deep belief networks are the reason why Google’s voice recognition is surprisingly accurate, Facebook can tag photos automagically, self-driven cars, etc.
4. Smart labels
They are 1 to 3 millimetres small. They harvest electricity from their environment. They can detect people approaching within half a metre, sometimes even identify them and each product you will buy. Your microwave will not longer have to be told how to warm up a frozen meal.
A $35 Raspberry Pi 2 or Odroid is many multiples more powerful than the first Google server but the size of a credit card. Parallella is $99, same size, and almost ten times more coresP then the first Google server.
6. Apps and App Stores for Smart Devices
Snappy Ubuntu Core allows developers to create apps like mobile apps but to put them on any smart device from robots & drones to wifi, hubs, industrial gateways, switches, dishwashers, sprinkler controls, etc. Software developers will be able to innovate faster and hardware can be totally repurposed in seconds. A switch can become a robot controller.
7. Edge/proximity/fog clouds
Public clouds often have too much latency for certain use cases. Often connectivity loss is not tolerable. Think about security cameras. In a world where 4K quality IP cameras will become extremely cheap, you want machine learning imagine recognition to be done locally and not on the other side of the world.
8. Containers and micro-services orchestration
Docker is not new but orchestrating millions of containers and handling super small micro services is still on the bleeding edge.
9. Cheap personalised robots and drones
£35 buys you a robot arm in Maplin in the UK. Not really useful for major things except for educating the next generation robot makers. Robots and drones will have apps (point 6) for which personalised robots and drones are happening this year.
10. Smart watches and hubs
Smart hubs know who is in the house, where they are (if you wear a phone, health wearable or smart watch), what their physical state is (heartbeat via smart watch), what your face looks like and your voice. Your smart watch will know more about you then you want relatives to know. Today Google knows a husband is getting a divorce before they do [wife searches and uses google maps]. Tomorrow your smart watch will know you are going to have a divorce before you do [heart jumped when you looked at that girl, her heartbeat went wild when you came closer].
Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, just announced the biggest IoT innovation in history: SnApp Stores for any THINGS. Any THING can run apps from an associated Snapp Store. It is just like having apps on a mobile phone but instead apps run on any THING.
What does this mean?
Developers will be able to create apps with Snappy Ubuntu Core – Snappy Apps or Snapps – and run them on any THING. The list of THINGS is only limited by people’s imagination. It can be vacuum cleaners, fridges, dishwashers, coffee machines, alarm systems, robots, drones, set top boxes, HVAC, WiFi, switches, routers, telecom mobile base stations, agricultural irrigation controllers, swimming pool controllers, industrial appliances, medical equipment, digital signage, POS, ATMs, smart energy meters, cars, radios, TVs, IP cameras, clouds, 3D printers, virtual reality wearables, smart hubs and any next-generation device that can run Ubuntu Core and still needs to be invented. If it has an ARMv7 or X86 chip and 256MB or better then you can put a Snapp Store on it.
Apps made mobile phones go from stupid calling devices to personalised smart super computers many of us would not be able to live without. New industries were born. Complete industries revolutionized. The app revolution is about to be repeated but this time any THING is a target.
Imagine what will happen if all devices in your home, at work, in your city, on holidays, etc. go from stupid to smart and personalised. Your house will know if you are stressed before you enter the door. It will play the music it knows relaxes you, the coffee smell you prefer, the ideal temperature & light intensity, block calls you don’t want, have the house cleaned, your favourite food just minutes away from being delivered, grocery shopping done, that interesting TV series just waiting to entertain you, etc. Your energy bill will be lower, your car will adapt to you, your hover will collaborate with the alarm system, your pet will be fed the right diet, your children will have personalised parental control, your mail packages delivered where you are, etc.
Snapps will only be limited by your imagination so start dreaming now about what the Snapp Store should bring you an make your dreams come true at ubuntu.com/things.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is impersonal. My lamp, dishwasher, heater, sprinkler, etc. are all islands with a closer border policy than North Korea. Even the first generation of IoT devices is still autistic. Current devices only know how to talk to “their app” or “their cloud”. The solution is not to have open APIs or standards but to go a step further. We need IoT apps everywhere. When you buy a phone, it is the same phone as millions of others are having. However something magically happens when you connect it to its app store/marketplace. The phone goes from an iPhone/Android to a miPhone/mydroid. We need a dishwasher, vacuum cleaner and heater to be personal as well. The easiest way is to create a MyIoT experience with IoT apps everywhere.
Why would your vacuum cleaner need apps?
Your vacuum cleaner should be able to know your house the moment you unpack it because your alarm system and your heater should tell it how big your house is. Your Smarthub should guide your vacuum cleaner from day one. Your smart phone and Google calendar should tell it when you are away and when it is a good moment to clean. Your smart watch should tell it that when it jumped on while you where there that the spike in your heartbeat means that its sound is annoying and it should stop immediately. No single company will make solutions this complex. So what we need is the ability to add apps to every sort of thing. This way the Internet of Things becomes My Internet of Things.