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DataStax 2021 Predictions: Lessons of 2020 Will Accelerate in the New Year

vmblog 2021 prediction series 

Industry executives and experts share their predictions for 2021.  Read them in this 13th annual series exclusive.

Lessons of 2020 Will Accelerate in the New Year

By Patrick McFadin, VP of Developer Relations, DataStax

Borrowing a famous line from the Grateful Dead, “What a long, strange trip it’s been” pretty well describes the current year of the pandemic. It has been a tough year, but we’ve all learned many new lessons and I believe those will carry into 2021 so here goes with my thoughts on what we’ll see in the year ahead.

Blue Sky Data Projects will get defunded

In the wide spectrum of data projects, the ones closer to customers with a fast rate of return have made the difference in the 2020 COVID pandemic time. Those companies that have figured out how to operate at that speed will continue the pace of innovation. Big projects with expected returns in the many months or year range will be paused or shut down. 2021 will not be a year to experiment with long vision projects. It will be time to move fast and respond to customer demand. The declaration of "We're building a platform and it's a 3-year project" will land with a thud. Instead, we'll see the use of products off the shelf to move faster the status quo.

The Great Culling of the Digital Laggards

I spent a lot of time in 2020 amazed by how quickly businesses adapted to lockdowns and new models. The local shaved ice stand my kids love now has an app with curbside pickup. Really? That's a great example of even how small businesses recognized the need for innovation and digital transformation just to survive. We may find ourselves breaking free of lockdowns in 2021, but I don't think we will put the genie back in the bottle. Consumers just went through a massive shift in how they interact with goods and services and it won't switch back. That means that those organizations that didn't make that shift waiting for the end of the pandemic will now be behind. They will spend 2021 just trying to stay in the race while the pack moves ahead faster with the inevitable ending.

Somebody will declare this the "Year of the SRE"

Maybe I just did? Site Reliability Engineers do way more than just make sure backups are running. In today's fast-paced development schedules, they make sure products are deployed quickly and correctly. Now with cloud-native methodologies and more products being metered as pay-as-you-need, they get to influence the bottom line in a major way. Efficient deployments include making sure cloud spend is kept in check and let's face it, that is not something organizations do well. The result is we may always consider SREs a critical part of the business, but they will be recognized for new contributions in keeping the company financially healthy. We might even see CFOs declaring this the "Year of the SRE" just out of appreciation.

Big User Conferences will never return

Someday we'll look back at 2019 as the last big year of user conferences. The formula for every tech company's success included having a conference. Because that's what everyone else does! The ROI for users was evaporating as every week of the year had colliding events for every part of their stack being used. We've up-leveled how we can interact without getting on a plane in the past year and the prospects of getting on a plane and sitting in a hot conference hall is going to look very unappealing. We will still have a desire to meet in-person with people in our community, but to convince somebody to travel, companies will need to think hybrid online/in-person or something really compelling. Do companies really have time to send teams of developers to a conference and shut down productivity for a week? Look for more online interactions in 2021 with higher quality and more of what users need.

2021 will be a renaissance of Apache Cassandra features

This is easily the biggest slam dunk prediction I can make. The past few years of Apache Cassandra development has been primarily focused on improving operations, stability and overall correctness of the database. The project has rightfully put a feature freeze in place to create focus for the soon shipping 4.0 version. That has created a backlog for the more cutting-edge features that will advance the core of the project. Things like indexing schemes, storage engine choices, query and protocol changes. When 4.0 ships, not shortly after, you'll see a flurry of feature branches being created for both 4.x and 5.0 based on the scope of the changes. We're already seeing them queue up as Cassandra Enhancement Process (CEP) proposals. Hang on to your hat! This is going to be a great ride.


About the Author

Patrick McFadin 

Patrick McFadin is the VP of Developer Relations at DataStax, where he leads a team devoted to making users of Apache Cassandra successful. He has also worked as Chief Evangelist for Apache Cassandra and consultant for DataStax, where he helped build some of the largest and exciting deployments in production.

Published Monday, December 14, 2020 7:56 AM by David Marshall
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