About this time last year, I predicted that these five IT-related themes would play an important role in 2018: API-first, IoT, Blockchain, Microservices and Automated Stacks. Now, one year later, let’s look back if the predictions became reality and to see what awaits us in the coming year.
2018 in retrospect
As far as my first prediction is concerned – the implementation of an ‘API first strategy’ – many companies have worked hard to make their products, services, business processes and data accessible via APIs. The goal was often to improve chain integration or to achieve more interaction with the end customers in order to ultimately gain competitive advantage. Of course, it was also used to comply with the GDPR and PSD2 legislation. A central gateway, where control and policies can be implemented on the data the company enters and leaves, makes it easier to comply to a (large) part of this legislation.
Despite the large investments and the hype surrounding the Internet of Things, my second prediction for 2018, did not fully meet my expectations. IoT can contribute to better customer contacts, data collection and user convenience. Nevertheless, the pace of IoT adaptation also slowed down more in 2018 than expected. IoT has evolved from a separate technology within the IT market to ‘just another integration’. It is no longer a standalone component. Now that IoT has become a regular form of chain integration, I expect that it will take a prominent place in the integration landscape in the coming years.
In the area of Blockchain – the third theme that I mentioned – a lot happened in 2018. A number of startups offer advice and small implementations. I still believe that Blockchain has an important place in IT. It has the potential to be a major technology, but the question is how fast and in which industries. For the legal- and the financial world and of course the health care industry, it has great added value. Although the adoption speed in these sectors is slow.
Much is said about microservices this year. Despite a large number of pilots, I saw no real breakthrough in 2018. However, more and more technologies and initiatives are emerging. Such as the new Ballerina programming language from WSO2, which implement a microservices architecture. Automated stacks, my final prediction, are an important enabler for microservices. Services such as Platform-as-a-Service with features such as auto- scaling and auto-healing, make it possible today to completely deploy, manage and operate integration platforms, middleware, back-end systems and the like, 24/7×365.
In 2018, we saw maturation to make automated stacks possible. Examples include AgileStacks, Docker, Kubernetes and Yenlo’s own solution: ‘Yenlo Interconnect ‘, a complete middleware Platform-as-a-Service for integration solutions using Amazon and WSO2 technology. Next year automated stacks will, in my view, become the standard and conditional to make the previous themes possible.
Looking forward to 2019 and the following years, I expect increasing activity in the API-first approach. It helps companies on their way to becoming a Digital Enterprise and enables them to be more agile. I also expect the speed of blockchain adoption to further increase. Because of the potential of microservices, the movement towards the cloud, API use and the low cost for the underlying infrastructure, I would also say that microservices will become the theme of 2019. But I also want to share some fresh predictions.
So, what will be the themes for 2019?
With an eye on 2019, I believe that the digital revolution has begun a huge and unstoppable march forward. Every organization is looking for new business models and ways to convert existing revenue models. They do this through chain integration with business partners or customers, in order to achieve higher customer loyalty. A good example of this is Coolblue, a Dutch e-commerce company that was founded in 1999 and is one of the largest web shops in the Netherlands and Belgium. They have optimized their process of ordering, delivery and return through extensive chain integration so that their customers experience every process as positive and remain loyal. Something that is vital in a highly competitive market.
Integration will therefore become an even more important theme in the coming years, which is also pointed out by Gartner and Forrester. In this context, terms such as API-first, microservices as well as micro gateways, identity & access management and data analytics become even more important.
Organizations increasingly need short time to market and cost reduction in order to be competitive. This will give Integration-as-a-Service a boost. More middleware platforms will therefore be offered in the cloud to make integration easier. I fully expect a major integration wave during 2019 and beyond with API-first and microservices as ‘raw material’ and ‘as-a-service’ playing a key role. The ongoing movement to the cloud is included and will continue to grow.
The phenomenon, microservices architecture, is now mature enough to make a real impact on the market. This coincides with the growing need for microservices because of the already mentioned integration issues. The increase in short transactional services forms a healthy breeding ground for the growth of a true microservices architecture and tooling. I expect more implementations of microservices architecture in 2019. This is closely related to the movement to the cloud, which is extremely suitable as an infrastructure for a microservices concept.
Open source in the cloud
Assuming that the integration market will grow with double of even triple digits increase in the next few years, the demand for open source technology will only increase. This phenomenon is already being announced because some proprietary software suppliers, such as IBM and SalesForce, have made several acquisitions in the past year (Redhat and Mulesoft). In the integration initiatives (the panacea of every business) organizations want to have the flexibility to make continuous adjustments. The proprietary software vendors with the associated vendor–lock-in will not work (anymore). Integration with open source technology is therefore a logical move, as is integration in the cloud.
Due to legislation and regulations (PSD2, Open Banking, GDPR) and the aforementioned phenomena, emerging countries are also suddenly entering the integration market. That is the trend I am sensing. Integration-as-a-Service is available to everyone and it is more accessible and cheaper through open source and cloud. Europe or America require all their trading partners, including emerging countries, to comply with their laws and regulations. Low cost integration technologies are beginning to facilitate the broad adoption of those laws and regulations, and by that, international trade.
Of the five predictions I made for 2018, four have materialized. Not a bad result! If I am able to get the same score for my 2019 predictions, we are looking forward to a bright future! I wish you a very successful 2019!