Application development is about to undergo a number of major shifts, according to Jeff Schulman, managing vice president, Gartner. Driving those shifts are cloud computing and mobile application development, but in-memory computing, event processing and other relatively new technology will also be part of the mix, Schulman forecasted in an introductory keynote at the Gartner Application Architecture, Development & Integration Summit 2011 in Las Vegas, Nev.
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He said a recent Gartner-Forbes survey showed boards of directors placing more emphasis on IT. In 2010, 31% of surveyed directors saw IT's strategic importance as high to extremely high, but that level of importance jumps to 65% for 2012.
New systems will go beyond IT's traditional strength in gaining automation efficiencies, to begin to become more on the order of organization transforming undertakings, said Schulman. "We see a switch from transactional systems to systems of [customer] engagement," he said.
Executives have quickly warmed to the role of cloud computing as a way to extend present data center capabilities. ''By 2016, half of all CIOs expect to operate more than 50% of work in the cloud," said Schulman."It lowers the barriers to experimentation."
"We are at the very beginning here," he said. "This doesn't mean you have to move everything to the cloud. But, you have to look at what kind of applications should migrate," he said.
Sometimes together with cloud, sometimes not – mobile application development is also a potent game changer in Gartner's view.
"By 2015, mobile application development projects will outnumber PC projects by a ratio of four to one," said Schulman, citing Gartner research. This is due to cloud, consumerization of IT, app stores and the growing number of public Web APIs, he said.
The PC will continue, just as the mainframe did in past years in the face of the PC and client-server computing. But, as with the mainframe, the PC is expected to lose its role as the central focus of IT. Schulman told his audience to be prepared to deal with significant new usage patterns and device types as mobile gains headway in the enterprise. He told them to create open APIs that can work with large social media sites as well.
In-memory computing and event processing
Besides cloud and mobile application development, Schulman pointed to in-memory computing technology and event processing as areas soon to surge in use. He predicted that, by 2015, more than half of new business applications would leverage event streams.
Schulman said that application development must cope with the fact that data, while voluminous, is now more often fragmentary and incoherent. They must now pursue an information architecture that covers "big nonstandard digital data.'' With both event processing and in memory computing, the drive is toward new capabilities, rather than mere extensions of existing systems. IT organizations need to ''re-envision'' applications to take advantage of the opportunities that in-memory technologies can enable, said Schulman.
While cloud computing is a big part of summit attendee Chris Dressler's area of interest, he is also interested in Gartner's take on event processing. In-memory computing and real-time processing go hand in hand, in his view.
"Most people do not understand the value of CEP," said Dressler, vice president of technology, Cablevision. "But it is important to learn to take advantage of the large number of events that can be used to improve the customer experience."
He said he saw an opportunity for complex event processing to go beyond its chief application spot today – in fraud detection – to broader use, such as maintaining video quality. CEP can be used to find and correct issues before the end user has the need to make a complaining call, he suggested.
Dressler emphasized that these were his personal opinions and not those of his employer, Cablevision.
Speaking at a summit session on the impact of event processing on application architecture, Kim Kazmaier, technical fellow, Bank of America, said recent message queuing software packages tend to include much more in the way of publish-subscribe capabilities that more easily enable CEP.
"Today, it seems to me that you see a lot of overlap with SOA and [Event Driven Architecture] and with synchronous and asynchronous [architecture]," he said, noting that his group at Bank of America's consumer division was in the midst of a multiyear SOA effort, and had only recently been able to begin formally adding event processing architecture to its practice.