The last time I wrote a column for the pages of eWEEK.com, the iPhone had not been released yet and what we now know as cloud computing was barely a twinkle in Jeff Bezos' eye. It's good to be back.
Much has changed in the past almost-10 years, technology-wise. That's obvious. What has not changed is the choices that IT managers, CIOs and developers have to make every day with regard to all that technology.
The strategic and tactical decisions around what technology to use, how to use it to add value to the business, win more customers and make the world a better place, are the same as they always were; only now they are more difficult. Let's look at some of the reasons why.
- IT spending is still strong according to the most recent data, but because of the new cloud economics, the technology dollar is being stretched like never before, and businesses expect transformative results from IT, not just technology to keep the business running.
- Technology is more complex than ever. Just try keeping up with the pace of change and innovation around software-defined a) networking, b) storage and c) data center, not to mention all of the codenames in OpenStack and new services in Amazon Web Services. At a recent summit in New York on container technology, "complexity" was the word of the day—in between enthusiastic predictions of how it will change the enterprise (my prediction: it will).
- The so-called Internet of things complicates the picture, as well, because the hype around IoT implies that IT managers need to be doing something about it—such as buying an IoT product. IBM is starting to spend a lot of money in this area, but that does not mean enterprise buyers need to.
- Big data technology is real and cool, but it's not for every company or every industry. There is still plenty of knowledge to be gained from traditional business intelligence tools. The real issue is managing the data, the volume velocity and variety of it, so if you want to apply advanced analytics against the data, you are able to capture and access what you need easily and quickly.
- Finally, the competition for the IT dollar is fiercer than ever, but the desired outcomes of spending are far less certain. How do IT pros make the right choices, and how do they know they are making the right choices?
That's just a small sample of the troubling and exciting issues confronting IT leaders today. For good measure, also throw in NoSQL databases, mobile and machine learning—something AWS also announced this week.
Perhaps we can take a lesson from the aforementioned container technology discussion. Containers are certainly the hottest and most interesting development to come into practice since cloud computing began to be taken seriously in the enterprise. But, guess what, containers have their roots in Unix and Linux and are just now being used to solve the unique problems (and opportunities) presented by cloud computing.
What follows from that realization is that new technology today may not be fully realized in the enterprise for 10 or 20 years, even with the accelerated timetables of the dot-com era.
If enterprises have problems they need to solve, there probably is a technology (old or new) that can solve it. And if there isn't, then the circumstances exist to create a solution from nothing very quickly. That is the age we live in. Just be sure that the technology decisions your organization is making are for the business and its customers, and nothing else.
Scot Petersen is a technology analyst at Ziff Brothers Investments, a private investment firm. He has an extensive background in the technology field. Prior to joining Ziff Brothers, Scot was the editorial director, Business Applications & Architecture, at TechTarget. Before that, he was the director, Editorial Operations, at Ziff Davis Enterprise, While at Ziff Davis Media, he was a writer and editor at eWEEK. No investment advice is offered in his blog. All duties are disclaimed. Scot works for a private investment firm, which may at any time invest in companies whose products are discussed in this blog, and no disclosure of securities transactions will be made.