Some Thoughtful Gifts for the Holidays

Arthur Cole

It's Christmas, so I thought I would give readers a few gifts today. Below are synopses and links to some of what I think are the more interesting reads on the future of enterprise architecture. Naturally, most of the focus is on the cloud and what it really means for the enterprise going forward, and on that score there is certainly no shortage of intriguing ideas.

Of course, that isn't to say I necessarily agree with every expressed idea just because I'm highlighting it here. For instance, CITEworld wanted to know how bad the disruption of enterprise software markets will be next year, so naturally it canvassed firms that are expected to be the next major disruptors, including Box and Github. Without doubt, the way the enterprise purchases and deploys software is about to undergo dramatic change, with implications for enterprise procurement policies, channel relationships and even software development itself. But not surprisingly, there was also talk about "software eating the world," which is only natural for people who immerse themselves in logic rather than fiber and silicon. And while it's true that virtualization is pulling more enterprise productivity capabilities off the physical layer every day, even cloud service providers should understand that there are still hardware trees in the software forest.

It's also interesting that all of the major disruptions in the new year happen to be in each startup's specialized field. For perhaps a less biased view, Forbe's James Staten gives what I believe to be a pretty rational assessment of what is likely to happen in the cloud next year. This isn't to say it is the correct view, considering technology markets aren't necessarily rational at all times, but it at least presents the likely trend lines for things like real-world deployment issues, the cloud's relationship with mobility and what we can really expect the technology to do for us (hint: not everything).

For those of you interested in picking winners and losers in the new data paradigm, there is a write-up by TaskUs CEO Bryce Maddock on huffingtonpost.com that is quite blunt about where the smart money is likely to go. His take is that with Facebook and Groupon helping to deflate the social media microbubble, watch for trouble in e-commerce markets next. At the same time, everything seems to be going well for SaaS and other enterprise-facing cloud services, primarily because they have an easily recognizable revenue stream.

And finally, I'm not sure what to make of this post by one Andy Weissman, except to conclude that it is either brilliance or madness. The gist here is that digital networks are disruptive by nature and that everything that has gone before is doomed every time the digital ecosystem re-invents itself. As evidence, he points first to print publishing and bookstores pushed nearly to the point of extinction by the Internet, than early digital content providers like AOL brushed aside by more specialized portals like Google, and now the next big switch to mobility and the cloud. Suppose, then, that this fragmentation, or unbundling, is a fundamental trait of networks and that the only way to truly survive is to prepare for the inevitable. That means today's cloud-based service infrastructure, including buyers, middlemen and suppliers, might already need to be thinking about what comes next and how to adapt to it. Remember, I don't necessarily agree with all this, but it is an interesting thought exercise.

In the end, I hope I haven't left you more confused than when you started reading this piece. The cloud is such a multi-faceted phenomenon that even short-term developments are difficult to predict. But if next year is even half as dynamic as what we've seen so far this decade, there should be a lot to talk about in the months ahead.



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