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December 1, 2012

IEEE Tags Top Tech Trends of 2013

Datanami Staff

This year the IEEE has released its list of the top technologies to watch as 2013 emerges. While some of the elements of the list come as little surprise, there are a few interesting twists that approach everything from handling the billions of connected devices expected by 2020 to novel approaches to handling security, visualization, and tapping into the cloud.

What is most interesting about the top tech trends of the coming year is that they all feed into the problems and solutions around the growing complexity and need for high velocity on ever-growing datasets.

Following many of the most important items predicted by IEEE will be Datanami’s prediction as it relates to that tech disruptor’s future, both in terms of technology innovation and the growing ecosystems (with companies to watch) around the movement.

The Internet of Things

According to the IEEE, this will be the most “disruptive technology since the World Wide Web” resulting in up to 100 billion Internet-connected objects by 2020.

As the top item on this list, it is also the top reason why the era of big data (which again, is far from being about size exclusively) is just dawning. Consider, for example, the variety and complexity of the data that will need to be merged, cleaned and analyzed across billions of devices, many of which will have their own unique signatures and metadata assignments.

The Internet of Things has already thrown some added complexity into the analytics mix with just mobile phones and their various location and user-focused capabilities, but imagine meshing that with social media, sensor and even home-based data to arrive at a cogent depiction of individual habits. And this is all just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to where this space is going.

Our Prediction: The issues around complexity and merging together of disparate, diverse data will lead to a preponderance of new offerings cropping up from startups and established players alike that will enhance massive management capabilities. Companies to watch as the Internet of Things explodes include DataFlux, Informatica, Pentaho Talend, Pervasive, Syncsort and larger, more established players like Oracle, SAS, SAP and IBM.

Next — Enter the Data Police >

Innovations in Cybersecurity

In some ways, putting cybersecurity into a tech trends list seems an “easy” option, but if we look at the research over the last year or two around securing large volumes of highly complex (not to mention increasingly personalized) data, it’s definitely worth a top-tier pointer.

Just as there is a big data tie-in with nearly every item on the IEEE list, so too are there cybersecurity elements. For example, consider the top trend, the Internet of Things wherein billions of objects (everything from mobile devices to sensors that are attached to patients, homes and machines) are emitting constant streams of data. It’s not just a matter of encryption and decryption on these data streams—it’s both a hardware/device security issue and a meshed set of security principles that monitor the streams and analytical engines output.

Aside from this, there are the topics of regulation, compliance and oversight of general cybersecurity policies with an added (and continuously growing) dash of input and output sources. Researchers at universities and companies galore are cracking the code on new ways to break their systems and make them failproof—many of which find their way into our “The Week in Big Data Research” column every Friday.

Our Prediction:  With recent hype and regulatory efforts behind cybersecurity issues, Gartner upped its prediction on the market for such software and services to grow to $71 billion by 2014. Companies to watch include managed services and standalone solutions for large-scale entities from IBM, CheckPoint, Sourcefire, Symantec, Websense, Cisco, Raytheon, CSC, and many more.

As a side prediction, industry-led coalitions, including the Cyber Security Research Alliance (CSRA) which is supported by partners Intel, Lockheed Martin, AMD, Honeywell and the security arm of EMC will play an increasing role on both the policy and R&D fronts.

NEXT — A Visual Element >

Visualizing Big Data

As the IEEE notes, in this data-driven era, the ability to make timely decisions based on data is crucial. As all fields confront the big data problem in 2013, visualization will become an increasingly effective tool for presenting information and driving complex analysis.

The tools and techniques for visualization vast amounts of data are becoming more pervasive, both in scientific and enterprise computing environments. For many users, visualization isn’t simply about getting a picture to see the data in—it’s about drilling down to points on a vibrant model to test new ideas, not to mention seeing (literally) connections that were hidden in raw data previously. This all leads to the ability to ask previously lost questions of data, or questions one might never knew could be pertinent.

Further, visualization as a whole has received a great deal of attention over the past couple of years as general news and information is being presented in more complex, rich formats—and scientific visualizations from centers like NASA, TACC and other institutions find their way into the mainstream due to the unprecedented view of mind-blowing concepts (universe beginnings to networked maps showing everything from climate change to political shifts).

Our Prediction: Expect open source and scientific computing visualization tools to flourish, most notably Avizo Visit. One of the hot companies to watch in the enterprise visualization space is Tableau, which has managed to strike partnerships with nearly every main big data analytics company in the space.

Further, other established analytics players who do not take a partnership angle will enhance and enrich their visualization offerings (as SAS did with its VisualAnalytics offering, for instance) to compete with the increase in demand for sophisticated visual packages that abstract away the incredible complexity behind visualizing large, complex datasets.

NEXT – A Puffy Trend Solidifies >

The Emergence of Hybrid and Personal Clouds

The IEEE says that enterprises will increasingly look to hybrid cloud environments while consumers will branch out to personal clouds.

The organization claims that the growth of services, which has been exceeding expectations, will lead to cloud computing gravitating even further into the enterprise with hybrid while the rest of us will continue to embrace personal clouds (which are the various cloud storage and software-as-a-service options that we tend to use daily).

This is not a surprise item on the list if you look at it in terms of cloud computing overall. In fact, for consumers, this was more of a tech trend that is rooted more in 2009 or so. What’s interesting in this trend is that it is noticeably devoid of a public cloud mention. The IEEE is suggesting that hybrid clouds, or cloud services that rely on meshing data stored out on public or private clouds, will need to harmonize with data (presumably the mission-critical data that companies might be reticent to seed to the cloud) stored behind the firewall.  The reliance on hybrid setups could be caused by concerns about data security, compliance and regulation mandates, the expense of data movement in and out of cloud services, or even the fact that many organizations have already made significant investments in their on-site infrastructure that they’re not willing to let slide.

Either way, this not-so-new trend connects with big data on two important fronts from our perspective. First of all, the ability to store non-mission-critical data externally at very low cost where it can be accessed by multiple, distributed parties around the globe is attractive. This means that since it’s cheap and easy to access, companies can keep as much data as they wish without worrying about the physical storage costs. Second, the rise of cloud services that harmonize on-premise and remotely-stored data means that there will be a proliferation of new tools to make this process more seamless and allowing greater diversity in data size and access options.

Our Prediction: The way we see this industry shaping up for enterprises (the consumers are taken care of—this is not really a new trend and plenty of services from Gmail to Dropbox are household names already) creates a win-win for cloud companies and the users alike from a storage perspective. However, advances in other storage technologies that are comparable in cost (tape, for example) for long-term data storage come with a greater guarantee of security since they’re maintained on-site. Companies that handle middleware for complex big data (IBM/Platform, Univa, etc.) will thrive as organizations need to orchestrate data movement and access via policy-driven measures that mesh cloud and on-site data. We also believe that Amazon Web Services will continue to lead the pack for the foreseeable future while Microsoft’s Azure and other smaller cloud players (Softlayer, for instance) will see niche adoption based on specific application needs.

Next — Technology We Can Count On? >

A Focus on Reliability

Over the past decade, power, performance and cost have been the biggest design priorities. However, in the coming era, the IEEE says that designers will need to turn a new eye to creating robust and reliable systems.

They claim that without innovations in the areas of microprocessor and software reliability, the research community’s prediction that future systems will face continuous failure will come true.

As the IEEE notes, designers have sought after efficient design points with respect to power, performance and cost. Of these, power has undoubtedly emerged as a first-order design challenge. In the coming era, this challenge may be subsumed by the challenge of building robust and reliable systems. As technology advances, susceptibility of systems to transient errors, such as timing violations, parameter variations, aging and infant mortality, is steadily increasing.

 “Without innovations in the areas of microprocessor and software reliability, future systems may face continuous failure. Thus, new computing paradigms are required that incorporate adaptive techniques at both the hardware and software layers to ensure robust and resilient execution. The system, as a whole, must dynamically detect and recover from errors to meet historically established high reliability standards without exceeding power budgets and cost constraints, and violating performance targets.”

We have written rather extensively about the fault tolerance and reliability of cloud computing systems (this is one reason why enterprises are hesitant to put their mission critical workloads in the cloud since news about widespread outages is often very highly publicized). We have also talked quite extensively about designing fault tolerant hardware and software approaches for Hadoop and other clusters.

Our prediction for this angle of tech trends is that software will be at the heart of rethinking reliability. To use the Hadoop example, each of the major distro vendors have solved the fault tolerance/single point of failure problem from a framework perspective via replication approaches. On the hardware side, however, there will continue to a balance between performance and reliability, even on over-clocked systems, as chipmakers, operating systems vendors and others continue to tweak their offerings.

Next — Mobile Capabilities and Robust Clouds >

Mobile Capabilities and Robust Clouds

At both the number 5 and 8 slots on the list this year are notes about mobile devices and their relationship to cloud computing, not to mention the need to support all of this by strengthening the mobile backbone in general.

According to the IEEE, in 2013, we can expect to see further intersections between mobile and cloud computing. The organization believes that the deployment of 3G and 4G networks, the rapid adoption of feature-rich smartphones and the growing integration of computation into consumer productions, such as cars and home appliances, have brought these technologies into the mainstream.

Aside from just fitting into the cloud computing topic area where data from mobile computations will feed into vast personal, public and private cloud sources, this is also a trend that is encompassed in large part by the top item on this year’s list—the Internet of Things.

Of course, what good would any of this be without a solid mobile infrastructure in place? The IEEE marked its number 8 item as the need for next-generation mobile capabilities. They note that enterprises, consumers and the government all rely on mobile computing for everything from disaster response and business continuity to simple communications.

The problem is, many of these systems operate within degraded network, power or computing environments. They say that researchers in the coming year will be trying to address the challenges of maintaining quality of services in mobile computing environments.

Our Prediction: This one isn’t a difficult one to make—the mobile carriers, in order to remain viable and competitive are going to beef up their infrastructure (that means you, Verizon, among others!). More applications will need to enhance existing security and increase openness with their APIs to allow more seamless integration of data to mesh with other connected objects and applications. Many of the vendors in the Internet of Things prediction are the same along those lines).

Next – The Rest of the List >Other Items on the IEEE Tech Trends List

Aside from the elements we’ve detailed the following are other items worth mentioning:

Use of shared memory will advance for multicore processing—Multicore processing has the potential to vastly increase computing speeds, yet researchers are still exploring how best to allow for shared memory on a single node. This challenge must be resolved in order to move into a future where each mode could hold up to 1,000 cores.

New approaches to securing safety-critical systems will emerge—With driverless cars, networked patient care, and personal apps on the horizon, and the advent of new control systems for air traffic, nuclear power plants, and military protection, researchers in 2013 will increasingly turn their attention to ensuring the security of safety-critical systems. 

New multimedia applications will emerge for 3D printing—From architecture to entertainment and manufacturing to security, 3D printing and multimedia has become increasingly incorporated into real-world applications. The extraction of 3D information has been studied in the field of computer vision for more than three decades, but remains challenging. 

To read more about the list, please check this out.