Top IT Trends for 2015

There’s no shortage of advice as to what the IT world can expect in 2015. We try to make sense of the predictions from major industry thought leaders. Cyber security and compliance feature strongly, but there are other topics including virtualisation, cloud and the internet of things. And we take a look at the outlook for IT jobs in 2015.

MEGA TRENDS – 2015

The first “Oracle” we have consulted is Gartner. They always go for the broad brush, big picture mega trends. The 10 strategic technology trends identified at a Gartner Symposium (Orlando October 2014) were the following:

Advanced, Pervasive and Invisible Analytics
Analytics will take center stage as the volume of data generated by embedded systems increases and vast pools of structured and unstructured data inside and outside the enterprise are analysed. “Every app now needs to be an analytic app.”

Context-Rich Systems
Ubiquitous embedded intelligence combined with pervasive analytics will drive the development of systems that are alert to their surroundings and able to respond appropriately. Context-aware security is an early application of this new capability, but others will emerge. The goal will be to simplify an increasingly complex computing world.

Smart Machines
Advanced algorithms that allow systems to understand their environment, learn for themselves, and act autonomously will create increasingly sophisticated Smart Machines. “The smart machine era will be the most disruptive in the history of IT.”

Cloud/Client Computing
The convergence of cloud and mobile computing will continue to promote the growth of centrally coordinated applications that can be delivered to any device. “Cloud is the new style of elastically scalable, self-service computing, and both internal applications and external applications will be built on this new style.”

Computing Everywhere
As mobile devices proliferate, Gartner sees increased emphasis on serving the needs of the mobile user in diverse contexts and environments.  “This will continue to raise significant management challenges for IT organizations as they lose control of user endpoint devices.”

The Internet of Things
Information technology extends beyond “computers”.  The four basic usage models (Manage, Monetize, Operate and Extend) can be applied to any of the four “Internets” (People, Process, Data and Things). The extended boundaries of the internet is creating huge new opportunities.

3D Printing
Worldwide shipments of 3D printers are expected to double in each of the next two years. New industrial, biomedical and consumer applications will continue to demonstrate that 3D printing is a real, viable and cost-effective means to reduce costs through improved designs, streamlined prototyping and short-run manufacturing.

Software-Defined Applications and Infrastructure
Agile programming of everything from applications to basic infrastructure is essential to provide the flexibility required. Software-defined networking, storage, data centers and security are maturing. Applications  increasingly have rich APIs to access their function and content programmatically. Rules, models and code that can dynamically assemble and configure all of the elements needed from the network through the application are needed.

Web-Scale IT
More organisations will be building applications and infrastructure like web giants such as Amazon, Google and Facebook. The first step toward the Web-scale IT future for many busineses should be DevOps — bringing development and operations together in a coordinated way to drive rapid, continuous incremental development of applications and services.

Risk-Based Security and Self-Protection
“Security cannot be a roadblock that stops all progress.”  Once organisations acknowledge that it is not possible to provide a 100% secured environment, they can begin to apply more-sophisticated risk assessment and mitigation tools. Perimeter defence is inadequate and applications need to take an active role in security. Security-aware app design, dynamic and static security testing, and runtime application self-protection combined with active context-aware and adaptive access controls are all needed in today’s dangerous digital world.

INFORMATION SECURITY – 2015

We feel that Information Security is more than just a consideration when designing new systems. The recent attack on Sony shows how the viability of commercial projects or whole organisations might be put at risk through failure to recognise the potential vulnerability of the information systems which underpin modern businesses – be they small independent companies or the world’s largest corporations. Cyber security will be centre stage in 2015 – and the demand for skilled security professionals will multiply.

Information security specialists Kaspersky Lab make the following predictions for 2015 with emphasis on Advance Persistent Threats (APTs are where there is are stealthy and continuous computer hacking processes, often orchestrated by humans targeting a specific entity):

APT-style attacks in the cybercriminal world
The days when cybercriminal gangs focused exclusively on stealing money from end users are over. Criminals now attacking the banks directly and moving forward will use APT techniques for these complex attacks.

The fragmentation of bigger APT groups
A growing number of smaller threat actors are likely to lead to more companies being hit. Larger organisations are expected to experience a greater number of attacks from a wider range of sources.

Targeting executives through hotel networks
Hotels are perfect for targeting high profile individuals around the world. The Darkhotel group is one of the APT actors known to have targeted specific visitors during their stay in hotels.

Enhanced evasion techniques.
More APT groups will be concerned about exposure and will take more advanced measures to shield themselves from discovery.

New methods of data exfiltration.
In 2015, more groups are expected to use cloud services in order to make exfiltration (the unauthorized transfer of data from a computer) stealthier and harder to detect.

Use of false flags.
APT groups are expected to exploit government intention to ‘naming and shaming’ suspected attackers by carefully adjusting their operations to plant false flags (that make it appear as if the attack was carried out by another entity).

BIG DATA TRENDS – 2015

The International Data Corporation (IDC) emphasises aspects of Big Data following their recent “2015 Predictions Conference.

Big Data and Analytics (BDA)
Over the next 5 years spending on cloud-based BDA solutions will grow3 times faster than spending for on-premise solutions. Hybrid on/off premise deployments will become a requirement.

Shortage of skilled staff will persist
In the US alone there will be 181,000 deep analytics roles in 2018 and five times that many positions requiring related skills in data management and interpretation.

Unified Data Platform Architecture
By 2017 unified architecture will become the foundation of BDA strategy. The unification will occur across information management, analysis, and search technology.

Predictive Analytics
Growth in applications incorporating advanced and predictive analytics, including machine learning, will accelerate in 2015. These apps will grow 65% faster than apps without predictive functionality.

Rich Media
Video, Audio, and Image analytics will at least triple in 2015 and emerge as the key driver for BDA technology investment.

IT JOBS – 2015

All of this filters down into a positive outlook for IT jobs in 2015. A recent survey by Computerworld highlights the following in-demand roles judged by whether organisations expect to recruit during 2015:

  • Programming & Applications Development – 48%
  • Project Management – 35%
  • Service Desk & ITIL – 30%
  • Security & Compliance – 28%
  • Web Development – 28%

Longer term trends from  itjobswatch.co.uk show renewed growth in demand for specific technology skills such as Windows Server and rapid growth in demand for security and cyber security staff. The graphs below track 3 month moving totals as a proportion of total demand.

This is in the context of a strong UK jobs market where a recent survey by Accenture for the CBI found that 50% of employers expect their workforce to be larger in 12 months’ time, while just 12% expect the workforce to be smaller.

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