2015 will be a transformative year, with automation and data-driven analytics paving the way forward for real competitive advantage. Last year a significant amount of groundwork was laid to evolve developers into becoming the ‘one-stop’ shop to fluently translate business needs to the web.  Productivity gains realized by tooling advances now allow developers to enmesh themselves further in strategic business decisions, and this year those liberated from legacy development models, including proprietary software purchasing models, will shine by proliferating new futuristic apps that tie mobile and the internet of things into a data-driven, learning experience that will create unparalleled user experiences and separate themselves from the competition.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the key predictions for change we at Pivotal see for developers and architects this year:

Enterprise mobile apps with “consumer scale” will have to find “enterprise class”. Mobile app investment has expanded from marketing-led, consumer-facing efforts, to product groups, operations teams, and IT. And IT has a huge backlog of enterprise applications that users are demanding to access via mobile. While not every legacy application will have a mobile app, many key legacy applications (like ERP and HRIS systems) are simply too big to fit into a useful and compelling mobile app.  This will require  app unbundling—turning that backlog of enterprise apps into a huge number of mobile app development projects. We saw this make a big splash in 2014 when Facebook unbundled “the big blue app”. Media companies like Google and Facebook have proven its value, and in 2015 this trend will go mainstream, with more enterprises focusing their apps on specific tasks or users. Companies that recognize the need for repeatable processes, including API management, testing automation and continuous delivery will have an advantage in supporting this app explosion in the enterprise. Other behind-the-scenes mobile app trends Pivotal predicts in this blog post and infographic include the need set your app up for compulsive scale caused by users becoming addicted to your app, and an improved focus on app timing, where users are successful in their objective quickly.

Containers will be ‘norming’, and religious wars will be waged over what is the norm. Paved by the success of Docker which has moved past being a simple container formatting system into a platform that helps IT compose, deploy, and manage containers in various ways, in 2014 containers were ‘storming’ the marketplace. This year a significant contingent of developers are looking for containers to solve many of their infrastructure needs. This increase in demand will spawn many new entrants into the market, with an early one by CentOS for Rocket leading the pack as an open source, open standard alternative (Disclosure: This is an effort that Pivotal is supporting).  The market will fight out the pros and cons of ways to handle this, including how much should be handled by containers. This trend will take hold so pervasively, that by the end of the year every IaaS/SP provider will offer container hosting (e.g., AWS with ECS, Google with GKE, etc.) and Service Discovery will emerge as the next edge of the 3rd Platform revolution frontier. By the end of the year, containers will be ensconced in the bullwork of so many apps, that the conversation will shift from containers (Docker, Rocket, Garden, Warden, etc.) to service discovery (Consul / Serf, Eureka, SmartStack). In fact, the rise of App Registries will further fan this fire and cause a rush of companies trying to “containerize” their apps.

“Smart applications” with predictive analytics will score impressive competitive wins. Those companies that have been reorganizing and investing in digital business will start seeing their deployments pay off in a big way.  Companies that perfected context-driven marketing and personalization will start winning additional loyalty from customers. Companies that have been instrumenting their products, and connecting customers  with a digital experience related to IoT applications will start seeing revenue and earnings enhancements with more customer loyalty, new revenue opportunities, and additional efficiency in business processes. This has the potential to be transformative for industries like telecommunications companies, who could harvest and clean their data to create new revenue streams that drive costs down for consumers, create significant new revenue streams, and  potentially solve world problems such as crowd management, or smart cities that mitigate traffic and save gas and pollution. The unprecedented amount of data will be collected on individual behavior by sensors and applications will begin to inform, guide and sell to consumers in so many new ways that this year may become a renaissance of sorts for many individuals who will finally be clued into their real behavior patterns and be empowered to make better decisions for themselves, their families and, importantly, their businesses.

In-Memory will become the place data is “stored” for analytics and transactions. In part driven by the new era of data hungry apps and the pressures of timing in mobile, in-memory transactional databases (IMDBs) will become sexy (again) when customers start running into consistency problems by building too large of an application. At Pivotal, we have seen this trend start this year with organizations like China Railways and Argentina’s financial backbone GIRE touting their huge successes with real-time data powering massive apps. In 2014, real-time in-memory analytics and in-memory OLAP-style processing became exciting with a number of startups and the rapid rise of Spark. Companies that take action on these analytics and deploy web-scale and consumer-scale applications will  force architects and developers to take a fresh look at IMDGs for transactional use cases, like Pivotal’s GemFire. When they do, countless new opportunities for competitive advantages with data will unfold, egging companies to dive headfirst into the Business Data Lake, where Hadoop, IMDGs and MPPs combine fluidly to realize your data’s full potential.

Open source eats the core enterprise IT infrastructure,  proprietary software becomes the black sheep. Open source enthusiasts have seen the light for years now, but proprietary software, with its “single throat to choke” and deep industry relationships has managed to hold on to core infrastructure, including everything from app servers to databases. This hold has steadily loosened over the years, and this year it will be a trend for architects and devs to refuse proprietary software and trust only open software. This trend started last year, paving the way for software companies to support focal efforts like the Cloud Foundry Foundation, where industry giants flock together, instead of competing, to foster technology advances that raise the tides for all. These efforts have shined big lights on the benefits of open source, including breeding an ecosystem that moves faster, mitigates risk and creates a safer place for new entrants to innovate. Increasingly in 2015, we will see companies seeking open coopetition versus private competition as a way to speed solutions to market and build a viable, sustainable ecosystem. We will also see many previously popular proprietary software solutions become open source as a way to openly ensconce their market lead, and shore up an ecosystem.

SQL becomes Hadoop’s ‘killer app’, because it finally becomes useful. SQL-based solutions such as Apache Hive, have been around for some with limited success. They are great because they offer the huge pool of experienced SQL developers a way to work with Hadoop. However, their problems were twofold: for “Hadoop-native” solutions, the scope of supported SQL was so limited, they were unable to support serious analytics. Also, “Hadoop-connected” tools rely on MapReduce and transmitting large result sets over the network, meaning their performance is so poor it is only useful for slow batch jobs. This year there will be renewed interest for true SQL engines for Hadoop, like Pivotal’s HAWQ technology, for rapid deployment of analytics use-cases for Hadoop, thanks in part to some big advancements for this arena by Pivotal in early 2015.

Recent Pivotal News for Developers and Architects

Pivotal is now creating a monthly feature called Build, where we round up the latest in trends and news around the industry that will help educate and guide developers and architects on topics surrounding the 3rd platform.

Cloud Foundry Foundation is now running and managing the direction of Cloud Foundry independently.

Pivotal CTO Simon Elisha started a new weekly podcast called All Things Pivotal that covers a variety of topics surrounding the 3rd Platform.

CoreOS announced the App Container specification with Rocket as a prototype Linux container solution, and Pivotal is supporting them by providing feedback and encouraging the community to do so as well.

Recommended Reading

3 Killer Ways to Up Your Mobile Game in 2015

10 Amazing Things to Do With a Hadoop-Based Data Lake

Case Study: 300% Increase in App Performance with India Rail on Pivotal GemFire

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