Emergence is imminent

This post was originally submitted to the 8th Annual VMblog Prediction Series as our take on what tech trends to watch in 2016.

As 2015 draws to a close and our scepter’d isle is buffeted by yet another winter storm (this time one with the unassuming name Storm Frank but which is anything but as it gathers pace and kicks on towards the North Pole apparently) it is time to reflect on the last twelve months and call out three key themes for the coming year.

It's all about the applications

We’ve been in this movie before but 2015 was the year that OpenStack opened its doors to the world and invited everyone to their party in Vancouver. This new inclusive OpenStack was a breath of fresh air and coincided with – among other things – the release of an application catalog – Murano – and an OpenStack marketplace.

Arguably this was a defensive move in the light of developments elsewhere particularly the formation of first the Cloud Foundry Foundation and subsequently the Cloud Native Computing Foundation. Interestingly both are Linux Foundation collaborative projects and hats off to theLinux Foundation for another stellar year.

Either way we expect this focus on applications to intensify as we move into 2016. Needless to say what constitutes an application will be hotly debated but the end result will be greater choice particularly as Apache Mesos is set to go from strength to strength.

There is clearly a lot to be said for the opinionated Cloud Foundry approach but Mesos and Kubernetes have their fans too particularly amongst DevOps devotees. To cap it all Huawei and Mesosphere recently announced a Cloud Foundry framework for Mesos.

Of course just as philosophers have wrestled with the mind-body problem for centuries so we have a duality or tension between applications and application platforms.

John Searle argues that this is a false dichotomy which is a theme taken up by Adam Davis in his Gluecon 2014 keynote The Case for Application Driven Cloud Computing which is if anything more relevant as we enter 2016.

Autonomic computing redux

We expect to see an explosion in very large scale autonomous systems driven by IoT and Big Data & Analytics underpinned by autonomic computing principles.

Autonomic computing is a great example of an idea that was years ahead of its time but which, fifteen years on from when it was first postulated by the then IBM Senior Research VP Paul Horn, is set to be a key enabling technology as we head into the New Year or to put it another wayemergence is imminent.

It is virtually impossible to think about autonomous systems without considering the concept of emergent behaviour which is defined as a phenomenon that can appear when a number of simple entities operate in an environment, forming more complex behaviors as a collective.

As the creators of the Apache Brooklyn project – an open source autonomic management platform or control plane – we have to declare that we have a vested interest in this trend!

Nonetheless we were delighted when Brooklyn graduated in late 2015 and companies like Canopy, IBM and Virtustream reaffirmed their support for it with IBM blogging about their use of it in a large scale migration scenario.

What is really exciting for us is that graduating has created real momentum for Apache Brooklyn as we head into 2016.

Blockchain on Main Street

December 17, 2015 was a red letter day for the Linux Foundation. First the Cloud Native Computing Foundation announced that it was open for business and an hour or so later the Linux Foundation itself announced the formation of YACP – the Open Ledger Project.

This initiative is a significant development as like the Cloud Foundry Foundation it has backing from Wall Street. However we expect blockchain technology to well and truly break out of its FinTech niche in 2016.

In fact sitting in my home office there is a Raspberry Pi2 and an Silicon Defined Radio (SDR) receiver waiting to be unpacked so that I can participate in MTN – a blockchain backed peer-to-peer platform that IBM is sponsoring. This is a holiday project I’m itching to get started on just as soon as I’ve finished this blog post!

Resources

There are plenty of great primers on blockchain such as There’s a blockchain for that! andUnderstanding the blockchain and the latter even talks about a blockchain as a kind ofdistributed autonomous organization.

There are also useful resources like Block Chain Inside Out curated by Peter Harris of Lighthouse Partners who are also hosting The Block Chain Conference in Feb 2016. Peter has also published this article on blockchain and the enterprise.

We are in good company as the Harvard Business review also calls out blockchain as a tech trend to watch in 2016.

In other news

In other news 2016 looks like being a vintage year for music with new albums from David Bowie – Black Star – and Radiohead who recently released their unused Spectre theme tune.

However I can’t sign off without recommending a book for our times by Jon Ronson – So you’ve been publicly shamed – which my son got me for Christmas.

While brilliantly funny his book is the stuff of nightmares. Since he calls out the endless recycling of material as shoddy if not exactly shameful I had better fess up that I’ve covered some of the ideas in this post elsewhere.

Incidentally until I read the book’s dust jacket I had no idea that Jon Ronson was also responsible for one of my favourite movies of recent times – Frank. If you’ve not seen it check it out onNetflix.

From Storm Frank to Frank the Movie with a soupçon of technology punditry. Happy New Year.