Tech Predictions Rant

<rant> According to Mayan tradition if you jump into one of the cenotes by the Mayan pyramids you can make predictions as to the future. Apparently, one person predicted he would be a ruler and was thus anointed such. Funny how that works. Well, I cave dived into a cenote and then read the January editions of eWeek, ComputerWorld, NetworkWorld, CIO and about 10 other magazines that show up to my house despite the lack of funding on my part for them to do so. Let’s see if I can wade through the fluff… First off, January is a funny month for tech magazines as it’s all IT predications, “look at which of my predictions turned out (but please forget the ones that I don’t mention that didn’t)” and various “top 10 tech” lists. It’s not hard to predict that people will spend more on security in 2009 than they did in 2008 when research papers already give you that information. It’s also not hard to predict that people will have to buy storage in 2009 (thank you Mr. Regulatory Compliance) or that network security incidents will go up in the next year. Either way my prediction is that next year they will be showcasing what they got right again, but somehow missing what they got wrong… Don’t get me wrong, some have more specific predictions, such as that Schwartz, the CEO of Sun, will be ousted. I’ve been waiting for that for a year or two myself, but it hasn’t happened yet – if it doesn’t happen in the next year I predict they’ll straight up go out of business (rm -Rf /Sun style)… A prediction I hadn’t considered was that Sun would go private. I still need to digest that, but I just kinda’ figured someone would end up buying Sun or they’d get resurrected by a strong CEO with a vision for how to eek profits out of this weird open source model, not that they’d end up buying back themselves… Another common prediction is that cybrecrime will go up. Well, while I find this in the realm of the “duh” I suppose I should make my own small prediction that is a bit more specific. Cybercrime amongst IT professionals will go up alongside the unemployment rate of IT professionals (maybe that’s why IT has been the least hit by the recession). Anyone who knows a good bit about system internals can write a good bot. Anyone with a flair for networking can convert that bot into a full fledged botnet. Of course, these newbies to the botnet world are not criminals in the traditional sense so I would expect that the rate of arrest would go up alongside the rate of newbie cyber crime… For example, there’s the Fannie Mae admin who upon his release decided to wipe out their data. There’s also the story about the rogue contractor who attacked the Northern Territory Government in Australia. There’s also the 2006 case (so pre economic whatnot) of the LA traffic signal hacking. Then there’s the dink in Sacramento who thought it would be wise to monkey with the California power grid (Grey Davis could have told him that doesn’t work out well). And of course the other dink in Northern California (NoCal) who refuses(d) to give up the password to network resources in San Francisco. But most convincing is that 88% of the IT workforce actually said they would steal data if let go. So I guess with all of this pointing towards a trend it’s a pretty safe darn prediction… Another interesting prediction was that city and state governments would start to switch away from their 20 year old or more computer systems, many of which are still running COBOL. Well, sounds good to me, provided there is someone who can foot the bill for the upgrade. Reportedly California is going to need to cough up about $200 million to upgrade their systems from COBOL. If I were to make a more specific prediction I would say that some enterprising lass is gonna’ come out with a little SaaS aimed at city governments. While many cities are likely close to being able to standardize the more holistic state-wide systems are likely not, even though doing so would likely save the states billions of dollars whether upgrades are a joint effort or a federally backed SaaS solution that is provided to the states. But while we are 50 united states, we are 50 completely different non-standard states nonetheless… I don’t predict it will happen, but I hope to see more standardization and therefore lower costs to the IT of bureaucracy. Another popular prediction is that the cloud industry will continue to increase. That’s the beauty of a buzz word. The cloud could reference shared storage or shared processing power. If one of these two goes up then the predictor is able to claim success. In a down economy, it is likely that many organizations will defer capital expenditures while others will welcome them, given the cheap cost of capital these days (where are our interest rates right now?). But whether they buy storage or outsource it I would guess that if everyone hasn’t tinkered around with “cloud” services that they will, just to see whether it will work for them. Thus, another safe prediction – unless you’re forecasting into 2010. One brave pundit announced that Microsoft’s Hyper-V would replace VMware as the market leader in virtualization offerings. I don’t know if I would necessarily be so brave a soul. Technically, I find it less appealing even than XenServer, the Citrixy form of XenSource, but there is something to be said for the fact that it’s bundled with 2008 Server… Either way, I wouldn’t have made that prediction just yet. What about IPv6? Are we not still running out of IP addresses? Did we all change our minds about that… Is the Army project in Germany really the only major implementation people are talking about? OK, so this one should maybe be into 2010, but there is a finite number of IP addressing space and we need more. Will companies defer IPv6 projects into 2011 or 2012? That’s what I’m interested in knowing. I’m guessing by that time there will be a War of the Worlds style panic to transition due to there being no more IP addresses… And what about certifications. For years IT vendors have been trying to get better at tracking certification cheating. Last year, many actually started to seed the cert brain dump sites with bad questions meant to statistically point out the cheaters. Will we see traction there? I’m guessing not… Especially on the Apple/Symantec/APC front. So if you are a pundit and you’re calling that people are going to be buying more storage in 2009, which is a big “duh” in my book, riddle me this, are they going to be buying storage built on open standards or are they going to be buying storage built in traditional shelf-like fashion, such as EMC or NetApp? Will EMC lay off more staffers in 2009 or were last weeks cuts as deep as they go? Where are the pundits saying “hey, in 2006 when Apple was at 1.1 percent of the Enterprise desktop market, I called that they’d grow to 4.5 percent within two years”? I don’t see any hands shooting up. If that curve were to continue, then within the next two years would Apple not be sitting close to 20 percent of the enterprise desktop market? If so then where are the pundits saying that will actually happen? I guess what this rant is getting at is that the future is uncertain (unless you first jump into a cenote), especially in an industry as rapidly changing as the IT industry. Sure, it’s only one year, but there is really no way to have any modicum of certainty that, for example, Microsoft and Intel would lay off 5,000 employees a year in advance, nor that EMC would follow up by laying off another 2,400 people. There’s no way to tell that Windows Live will not be what Microsoft was hoping it would be (OK, so maybe there was actually) nor that Facebook would take over the market. There are some who would guess that Mac OS X will become a darling of the Enterprise in favor of Windows 7 adoption. But then there are a lot of people at Linux shows around the country that would call that Linux would become that darling instead. And of course there are far more Windows professionals out there who aren’t even considering any change whatsoever in their skillsets… To conclude my rant I just want to state that what the authors of these articles are doing is actually an important service, and one that is done for free to subscribers of their pseudo-free publications.  I enjoy reading their predictions and whether I agree with them or not they definitely get me thinking about things! </rant>