This week, Gartner, Inc released their list of the top 10 Strategic Technologies for 2009. This information stems from research performed within the Technology sector and factors in their client and research feedback. This list, released at the Gartner Symposium ITxpo, is considered to be potentially “disruptive to your environment or market in some way,” says Gartner analyst David Cearley.
While I sometimes find some of Gartner’s commentary on trends in technology a bit conservative and missing other critical data, this 2009 list does represent current trends that I have seen and mirrors many of my own expectations. Just last week, TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington declared that Web 2.0 was dead. I think that many of us have already moved well beyond Web 2.0. My view, for some time, has been that Web 3.0 (for lack of a better term) will be a combination of Integration and Standards and the coupling of the two, with other enabling technologies such as Cloud Computing providing the necessary lubrication. We saw the term “mashup” become prevalent during the past year or so, where companies sought to integrate similar services (or even disparate ones) in a new service delivered via the Web. A could of quick examples of this is evident with the numerous Twitter services that use Twitter data and either present this data in different ways or full integration into other services, or the advent of Yahoo!’s Pipes.
Key to Integration is making the connections easier through the use of public APIs. As more companies expose their API’s to developers, the wheels for integration become even more greased. This is all fine and good provided that these API are carefully documented, but more critical is that APIs must adhere to some sort of standard. Unfortunately, the “standards” requirement is a lot harder to require and maintain. At a recent Cloud Computing Interoperability meeting that I participated in, most attendees agreed that Standards are a huge priority, however, defining these standards would be a daunting task to undertake. But this interop was a clear step forward by the leaders in the industry towards defining these standards. If you step back a few years, you could view Web Services as a precursor to the API movement we see now (API’s are a subset of Web Services), and XML standards helped to propel the acceptance of Web Services and Integrations in general.
I feel that those companies who are currently working to aggregate (or integrate) various API’s into their business model are well positioned to be the ones who can help drive these standards. Case in point, GoGrid has a public API and recently signed up various Cloud Aggregators (such as RightScale, Appistry and GigaSpaces). These companies use a variety of other Cloud Infrastructure providers within their management services. The more that I thought about it, the more I realized how important these Cloud Aggregators’ roles are in driving some Cloud standards. They have views into all of their partner API’s and can easily find similarities and differences between these API’s. Any API’s that these aggregators come up with themselves are one step closer to a standards-based API that could potentially be generic enough for use by many if not all providers.
What is also interesting, is that this concept of Integration and Standards actually does apply to our current World Financial Crisis as well. We have a bank and financial institution pandemonium with mergers seemingly occurring daily. These institutions will need to integrate diverse systems in order to succeed and the government will be forced to derive some standards to govern their vested interest in these institutions. Sure, this is a fairly broad application of these terms in this comparison between Web 3.0 and Finance, but the ideas are similar.
But back to the Gartner predictions for 2009. First, we need to take off our rose colored glasses here. Any time you make a prediction, the odds are that you could be wrong in the long run. I realize that this is a bit pessimistic, but just look at our Economy right now. There were plenty of naysayers who told us that we were going down the wrong path, but we still proceeded ahead, ignoring these predictions. Technology trends are no different than Economic ones; you can make an attempt to predict based on the past however, the difference here is that technology seem to be a lit less volatile compared to the economy.