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Anaxi 2019 Predictions: Moving the Boundaries of the Cloud, in Every Direction

Industry executives and experts share their predictions for 2019.  Read them in this 11th annual series exclusive.

Contributed by Marc Verstaen, co-founder and CEO of Anaxi

Moving the Boundaries of the Cloud, in Every Direction

I've been lucky enough to participate in two explosive growth experiences -- Docker and Apple. In both cases, their products broke new ground and great success was expected from the very beginning. But the exponential growth of Docker adoption, and the incredible success of the iOS platform shocked me. I'm definitely better at predicting the past than the future. My point is that predictions are hard and inaccurate, but they are fun, too, so here goes. 

I'll cover four different areas, all of massive interest to me, as a software developer: infrastructure software, hardware as in processor, networking and developer platform.

#1 I expect to see the takeoff of serverless, the cloud-computing execution model in which the cloud provider acts as the server, dynamically managing the allocation of machine resources. It's already happening, and I expect to see much more in the year ahead. Why? Because it fills a dire need for agile development, it's such an easy transition to adopt and pricing is based on the amount of resources consumed by an application, so it's highly efficient, as well.

All the major cloud providers offer serverless. AWS was the first with Lambda, introduced in 2014. Microsoft Azure has Azure Functions and Nuclio, Google Cloud Platform offers Google Cloud Functions and IBM has OpenWhisk. Oracle provides Fn Project on Oracle Cloud Platform, which is available on GitHub for deployment on other platforms. The main risk factor here is fragmentation: there is a need for a standard that would allow for picking the cloud platform on the fly. It's in the best interest of the customer, but I would expect there will likely be some resistance to this. Don't expect the world to move to serverless overnight. Existing apps will be modernized using Docker, and the majority of new projects will still rely on containers. But it's the start of a new trend.

#2 That leads me to my second point on the increased attention to quantum computing. It's very early days in this field but lots of money and resources are going into research in this area. A Toronto-based company, D-Wave Systems, can sell you for a mere $15 million, a quantum computer with about a thousand qbits or IBM already offers cloud access.

What are the capabilities of quantum computing? It can handle exponential algorithms whose execution times scale exponentially with the size of the problem. For example, breaking encryption keys. Breaking two bits key is almost trivial, but breaking a 256 bits key can take a hundred years. Not for a quantum computer, because the execution time scales linearly. That means current encryption keys will become useless as protection for our data, bitcoins and others. It will take something like 10 years for quantum computing to reach mass availability, but it will take time to enhance our encryption systems so we better pay attention now.

#3 Not so far ahead is quantum networking. With so much data being generated and so much of it traversing networks, I believe it is inevitable that we overhaul networking technology as it's known today. I won't even try to dig into the intricacies of the underlying science, but once it is widely available, consequences will be gigantic: instant network connections. No latency. Even the Einsteinian speed of light limit will be gone. All computers can be considered as one system, regardless of where they are. Computer science as we know it will have to be completely revisited. Science fiction? Not really, there are at least two networks that I know of based on these principles -- one in the Netherlands, the other one in China. Today, their  "limited" use case is around encryption key, the quantic networks are used to exchange quantic keys in a secure way. This article talks about the work that is being done.

I believe with quantum networking there is tremendous potential to change how we work today. This is especially important with the transition we're seeing to microservices and cloud-native applications that have smaller software functions and increased reliance on communications. Networks, as we know them today, cease to exist. Communication must be instantaneous.

#4 Now, I'll take a much more practical look at something that today we think is important for software engineering and that is, a real platform for software collaboration. Today, we have two sets of tools, with two leaders: GitHub and Jira. They are both good tools helping manage the process of software development, but each works separately from the other. Jira can help you manage your tickets, prepare the flow of work. GitHub will manage your code, and provide a pull request flow to discuss submissions, one by one. Having two separate tools works well for pure software companies, which are focused on a limited set of projects that they control. But it starts breaking up for the rest of the world. Now, every large company is also a software company. They don't sell software, they consume what the Open Source world delivers, they create the products they need to communicate with their customers, produce their products, exchange with their partners. This results in a large number of interdependent projects, very often built on top of open source projects. And there are no tools to manage such a complex world. Teams are constrained in silos.

By aggregating data from different tools, we can give engineers and managers access to metrics that provide a holistic view of the development process - not piece parts. That increased visibility and intelligence on their software development projects and processes helps keep development schedules on track while connecting them to open source projects they have little control on. This is an easy prediction because it is something we are working on delivering early in 2019.

I look forward to re-visiting at the end of the year to check on progress made in these four areas. We are definitely living at a very exciting time!


About the Author


Marc Verstaen is the co-founder and CEO of Anaxi, whose mission is to fix software project management. He has been managing engineering teams for more than 20 years, lastly at Docker as EVP Product Development. He co-founded two other startups and was the CEO at TextMe, Beatware and Lorienne. He also acted as a Senior Manager at Apple, overseeing software development on iCloud clients, UIKit and iOS development tools, and at Oracle (mobile, UX).

Published Monday, January 21, 2019 7:28 AM by David Marshall
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