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Is Change Coming Again?

It is a topic of fascination for me that the high-tech world just plain will not stand still

It is a topic of fascination for me that the high-tech world just plain will not stand still. The changes in automotive technology over the last century, for example, do not match the changes in high tech over the last decade. In addition to the expected on-upsmanship that market leaders tend to spur each other on with, there is always The Next Big Thing™, often by a hitherto unheard of company. When you stop to think that Google was incorporated 14 years ago at the writing of this blog, and my own employer (F5 Networks) was founded just 18 years ago, but both are seen as leaders, perhaps even “old school”. Even more extreme, Facebook is not yet 10 years old as a corporation, yet many see it as “old”.

iPhone.GalaxyTab.LaptopSo I kind of keep half an eye on the more global changes in high-tech to keep a feel for what might be going on, and what it might mean to you and me. The interesting news today comes from Forrester Research in a blog post entitled “For Consumers, ‘Being Online’ Is Becoming a Fluid Concept”. The topic of the post is the result of their annual usage survey that shows a rapidly increasing mobile usage pattern, and a tendency away from not just “old media”, but desktops and laptops. This came at the same time that a conversation sprung up on Facebook about stock prices of some companies, and the comment was posted (paraphrased and used without permission) “That’s the problem with client-based security companies in the mobile age. With limited access to underlying APIs, those companies have to head to the datacenter or face extinction.”

Wow. That has the ring of profound when combined with the Forrester report.

So what is upcoming change likely to look like? Well, we’re rapidly approaching a point where contextual authorization – based upon username, device type, locale, and even routing – will become standard for enterprise network access. People are increasingly talking about VDI on a tablet – an interesting concept to say the least. The commenter was right, security is massively different in the mobile world (upcoming blog on simply encrypting an SQLite database and still using the connectors to populate list boxes). That could spell trouble for some established security vendors, though the AV vendors seem to be getting something available for most mobile platforms, so maybe it’s just a question of catching up with adoption.

Thing is, the other end of the computerverse is intruding on “old” tech also. As things move to the cloud, an entirely different set of rules starts to apply. How do you hit the cloud and still maintain PCI DSS compliance, for example (something I was helping a friend with not too long ago), and for that matter HIPPA compliance if you fall under it? Those are questions only just now starting to get answers. And there are a lot more – like how to resolve DNS when cloud-bursting, or even how to determine algorithmically that it is time to cloud-burst. Or how to develop for both iPad and GalaxyTab from the same source (Appcelerator does it with a variant of JavaScript that they translate to Objective-C and Java respectively, but that’s one case, what if JavaScript is not your choice, or the translation doesn’t suit your needs?).

So both the client (what clients are most used to access your sites) and the servers (where they are hosted, what kind of control you have over the infrastructure) are changing at the same time. Again. This is going to be another interesting ride, methinks.

The changes are still coming fast and furious. We’re still adapting pretty well. You know sometimes when you sit in a datacenter working hard every day you can feel so behind. Don’t. Yes I think you should adopt all of the new functionality F5 has incorporated to make your life easier, and my compatriots at other orgs feel the same, but you’re not nearly as far behind as it seems, the market is just moving faster than it needs to. Do what you do best – find the stuff that matters and adopt it. The hype doesn’t determine the market, you do.

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More Stories By Don MacVittie

Don MacVittie is currently a Senior Solutions Architect at StackIQ, Inc. He is also working with Mesamundi on D20 Ultimate, and is a member of the Stacki Open Source project. He has experience in application development, architecture, infrastructure, technical writing, and IT management. MacVittie holds a B.S. in Computer Science from Northern Michigan University, and an M.S. in Computer Science from Nova Southeastern University.

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