Dan's Take

New Challenges and Opportunities for the New Year

We often find ourselves discussing current trends and the resulting opportunities with our clients. During a very recent strategic counsel call, we were asked to discuss "over the horizon but already in sight" opportunities with a longtime client.

There are three trends we identified: the growth in use of commodity computers to create in-house, inexpensive grids; the growth of end-user devices as application-delivery tools; and the changing face of development. As often is the case, each of these possible futures include heavy use of virtualization and cloud computing technologies.

Commodity Grids
Although many applications are being migrated into the cloud, enterprises have applications that can't leave their own datacenters. There are many reasons for this, but the most commonly cited reasons include the need for high levels of security, predictable levels of performance, the fact that the application was purchased long ago and that there are neither alternatives nor source code available.

The trend that has been observed is the growing use of grids or clusters constructed of extremely inexpensive, simple educational computers. These configurations are often harnessed together using various forms of open source virtualization technology.

Extremely inexpensive (often $25 to $125 per system) educational or training computers are being purchased to form a high-performance computing cluster or grid. There's a growing list of systems from which to choose.

The key is that massive amounts of power can be put together for a minimal price because the systems, OSes, database software, and virtualization technology are all available for commodity prices or freely available on the Internet.

Computing at the Network Edge
As the performance improves for devices such as smartphones, tablets, laptops and even personal computers, they're being pressed into service to support applications that can request and utilize resources living out on the network. These devices are increasingly described as performing "edge computing." Enterprises of all sizes are trying to find the best (from their point of view, of course) way to put them to work.

This means that the enterprise may not have to purchase as many large systems for their own datacenter or acquire as much in the way of cloud computing resources to address their information technology requirements.

The Changing Face of Development
In the past, enterprises focused on making the best use of a few very expensive, complex systems. This typically meant that applications were developed using tools that optimized the use of the systems. People, at that time, were not the large portion of IT costs that they are today.

Now, tools that optimize the use of people have come to the forefront. Furthermore, the computing environment is now made up of a large number of relatively inexpensive systems that support virtual computing environments (virtual machines, containers, grids and so on). The new development tools are interpreted or incrementally compiled, speeding development in exchange for using more computing resources.

Dan's Take: An Opportune Time
The opportunities we discussed broke down in the following way:

  • For grids: Make them easier to configure, provision and administer. Also, provide tools tuned for enterprises, small to midsize businesses (SMBs), government agencies and academic institutions.
  • For edge computing: Make cross-platform, cross-OS development easy. Make distributed applications easy to build and maintain. Offer tools tuned for enterprises, SMBs, government agencies and academia.
  • For development environments: training, application conversion and helping developers deal with virtual, distributed, hybrid computing environment are obvious opportunities.

About the Author

Daniel Kusnetzky, a reformed software engineer and product manager, founded Kusnetzky Group LLC in 2006. He's literally written the book on virtualization and often comments on cloud computing, mobility and systems software. He has been a business unit manager at a hardware company and head of corporate marketing and strategy at a software company.

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