Blockchain, cloud, and IT in 2023 and beyond

Group of multhiethnic business people working together, brainstorming in office
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Group of multhiethnic business people working together, brainstorming in office

As we emerge from the pandemic, we are faced with a new set of challenges: the continuous strain on the global supply chain, climate change, and a volatile economic outlook. But we also see plenty of opportunities and exciting sources of innovation and advancement. We asked our co-founder, Dr. Tim Wagner to look into his crystal ball and make some predictions about what is to expect in IT in 2023 and beyond.

Here’s Tim with his top 10 predictions for 2023 and beyond:

#1 We’re entering the “postmodern cloud” era of technology mergers

Many of the technologies we’ve historically considered as separate or competitive are starting to merge…and developers and IT purchasers are going to be the beneficiaries:

  • Enterprise blockchains are really a form of distributed database. “Distributed” data now means across partners, clouds, and regions, not just within a single AWS or Azure account. Enterprise features in blockchains and tamperproofing and versioning in “classic” databases are both on the rise. Meanwhile, deterministic database theory and blockchain theory are already on a convergence path at the research level. Look for the historical separation to diminish over time as the best ideas of each camp influence the other.
  • The distinction between operational databases (OLTP) and analytics/data warehousing (OLAP) is starting to disappear. This line has been getting blurrier for awhile with increasingly high performance and “row-centric” analytics systems, more “real time” analytics showing up in operational databases, and of course everyone’s new favorite phrase, “Zero ETL” as the end goal of seamless (and eventually copy-less) data integration between the two sides of the house. Over time, the historic operational versus analytical database distinction will disappear completely, driven by the need for real-time, reconciliation-less outcomes in nearly every sector.
  • Managed APIs and cloud databases will merge together. APIs are largely useless without some kind of data to send through them. Operational databases aren’t of much value to an application or business partner unless there’s a way to “get at” the data inside. Now that both systems typically reside in the cloud, this “chocolate and peanut butter” combo is even more likely to get blended together, as developers become increasingly annoyed by the tedious and repetitive task of plugging two cloud services into one another. Companies seeking features like cross-cloud and automated partner data sharing can already look towards services like Vendia Share and FaunaDB that cross-pollinate APIs with databases to gain more powerful, leveraged, and cost-effective outcomes.

#2 Forget hybrid-cloud, multi-cloud, and the Kubernetes nightmare…companies are skipping straight to the Supercloud

Tired of spending people, time, and money on expensive multi-cloud buildouts, CIOs increasingly turn to vendors who can provide outcomes like multi-cloud resilience and cross-cloud data sharing as features. SnowflakeCloudflareVendia, and other platform vendors are becoming the next generation of cloud providers by offering solutions that can span clouds rather than extending walled gardens within a single cloud. Instead of “DIYing” expensive Kubernetes deployments, companies of all sizes are focusing their attention on SaaS solutions that deliver multi-cloud as a feature instead of as a challenge to be surmounted.

#3 Partners are the new data silos

The data companies need to sell effectively, deliver goods on time, and forecast demand is increasingly not within their four walls. Global supply chain issues aren’t a problem that a central IT group can solve by talking to itself — the solution lies in better, stronger, and faster (i.e., more real time) data sharing with upstream and downstream business partners. Partner data, not in-house data, will power the next generation of cloud applications.

#4 Recessions are short, cloud migration is forever

Recessionary cycles are becoming shorter and more tactical, leaving long-term spending on cloud migration and digital innovation largely intact. The result? Increasing insulation of CIO/CTO budgets from short-term economic conditions. At a time when public cloud innovation is slowing down, cloud migration and digitization progress are actually speeding up, because business leaders see the value of reducing costs and eliminating inefficiency…especially in turbulent economic conditions.

#5 With digitization and cloud migrations in process, the next CIO challenge is eliminating reconciliation

Much of the data in mission-critical systems comes from (or goes to) external parties such as suppliers, manufacturing partners, financial institutions, logistics and delivery companies, SaaS and public cloud providers, and more. This constant tidal wave of copied data brings with it a key problem: Reconciling the differences between all the different copies. This challenge is occurring against a backdrop where compliance and regulation targeting privacy and data handling are increasing at the state, federal, and international levels every year. Today’s lengthy, painful activities to collect, reconcile, and “fix” data manually are the next hurdle that CIOs and CTOs are looking to tackle, automate, and digitize…and they’re increasingly spending their hard-earned money (and limited time and attention) to address and eliminate their reconciliation woes.

#6 The four new features every technology leader wants aren’t the ones you think…they’re compliancesecuritymulti-cloud, and partner enablement

With cloud data and app migration and application renovation increasingly in the rearview window, CIOs and technology leaders are increasingly struggling with things other than conventional feature development, such as protecting against data leaks and hacker attacks and turning their attention to dealing with “external” data silos in the form of partners.

#7 Moore’s Law is dead…or did it just turn Serverless?

Computers and memory aren’t getting any faster or cheaper, because we finally ran out of steam on silicon wafer tech, limiting further progress on intra-machine performance. But guess what is getting faster, cheaper, and better every year? Networking. Behind the scenes, networking is driving a migration from server-level parallelism to fleets of serverless functions as the new supercomputer architecture and scaling technique.

#8 Crypto winter dumpster fires will continue in 2023

…And their headlines will continue to distract from the actual progress on the enterprise blockchain and distributed ledger side. Warranted or not, crypto FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt) will slow down the otherwise-useful adoption of stablecoins as a payment technology, giving SaaS solutions like Stripe and PayPal in 2023 more runway to grow unchallenged by an alternative digital currency approach, for now.

#9 “Serverless Everything” will breed a new generation of developers who couldn’t program a server if their lives depended on it — and that’s a good thing!

Serverless launched in 2014 as a new concept. Now you can barely find a service in AWS’s lineup that doesn’t claim to be “serverless”. Computer science graduates already wouldn’t know a data center if it hit them in the head and in a few years, graduates won’t know what a server is, either. Instead, they will create applications by coding against the emerging “cloud abstraction layer” instead of against a set of low-level machines or containers. And that’s a good thing. Nothing drains time and money like humans babysitting machines!

#10 “Serverless” matures into “Lean Apps” as historical sources of developer leverage — IDEs, open source, etc. run out of steam and developer challenges mount

Serverless began as a way to shift operational cost and complexity from application developers (and their corporate masters) back onto the public cloud providers. But increasingly it starts to look like a new way to think about creating applications, one that allows businesses to focus on their differentiated value instead of the 90% drudgery that’s undifferentiated across companies and industries.

Meanwhile, conventional ways of gaining leverage as a developer (more powerful IDEs, more open source libraries, GitHub, etc.) have matured to the point where new releases offer smaller productivity improvements. At the same time, our conventional tools and processes are running out of steam (including Moore’s Law), and the challenges facing application developers are only getting worse: multi-cloud, multi-party (decentralized), multi-region, real-time, etc. are all now becoming standards business asks on development and operations teams: Every app dev is now, necessarily, a distributed systems expert, which wasn’t the case even a few years ago. New approaches will be needed to give today’s developers the same increases in efficiency that the cloud generation enjoyed.

Want more news and insights from Tim?

Go deeper with Tim Wagner, the inventor of Serverless and Vendia’s co-founder and CEO. Pick from Tim’s library of posts, and join our mailing list to catch up with Tim’s latest insights and ideas on IT innovation.