2020 Predictions from Couchbase
January 16, 2020

Andrew C. Oliver
Couchbase

The following are 2020 predictions from Couchbase:

As cloud reaches critical mass, underlying operations will standardize

2020 will mark a tipping point in cloud, as new applications and software will become "cloud first" — and technology that avoids the cloud will increasingly be seen as a costly oddity. This moment has always been coming, as the history of computing is one of successful technology building its center of gravity, and then suddenly shifting the balance to become the default. In a lot of developers' minds, cloud has been the default for some time, but 2020 will be the first year that adoption statistics match this.

As cloud hits its tipping point, we will also see greater standardization of underlying operations. We have already seen microservices and container management systems standardize, with the likes of Kubernetes and Docker rapidly becoming the go-to default. In 2020, it will be the turn of service mesh offerings; as more and more organizations use service meshes in conjunction with their microservices, they will become as common as Kubernetes. The market will mature and inevitably the multiple offerings available at present will be winnowed down to one or two clear market leaders. Cloud providers will have a profound effect on this — by ensuring that customers use their own specific offerings, which in turn will place more shackles on businesses.

Open Source will once again be in peril — from a new source

Open Source has always been popular with customers, meaning investors have advertised it widely. However, it has never been as popular with investors thinking from a business model standpoint. After all, how will the business monetize it? The growth of cloud giants, and of IT as a service, will create a real challenge to popular conceptions of Open Source in 2020.

Essentially, if open source software is used to provide a service through a cloud provider, how can the innovators afford to create it? Some software vendors are attempting to address this by creating new open source licenses that apply to everyone except cloud providers. But this creates a significant turn away from Open Source's commonly-accepted definition, specifically its prohibition on field of use restrictions. It also violates the first of the Free Software Movement's four freedoms. We're now in a place where some of the most famous "open source" software can't, in all honesty, still be called open source.

In 2020, vendors will have to realize that the Open Source game has changed. If they still want to meet their Open Source goals, clever licensing approaches will not be enough. They must instead see themselves as service providers, from management to support and other value-adds, in order to ensure that they can offer something that others cannot. The business model is to innovate — where cloud providers won't — and to provide better and more differentiated service not just differentiated software.

Open source is a red herring here. It is really about traditional Enterprise Software sales vs Software as a Service. If something is popular, the cloud vendors will copy it regardless of its license and provide their own cheaper version anyhow. Vendors must fight service with service, not with license restrictions and lawyers.

Security Debacles will mount up unless security is built into applications from the beginning

There is one area where 2020 is unlikely to differ from 2019 — there will be more high-profile security breaches that, in hindsight, would have been easily preventable. Partly, this is due to attitude. Too many organizations will still treat a security breach as an act of God — something that is essentially a random natural disaster, best addressed by ensuring adequate insurance cover and dealing with any fallout after the event.

However, unlike most natural disasters, security breaches — or attempts at them — are preventable. Just as most of us will lock their house or car when we leave it, so organizations should be taking all the necessary precautions. Security is the ultimate cross-cutting concern for the entire business. Every decision taken at every level affects security, and vice versa.

Security has to be built into applications from the very beginning, by experienced developers who are trained in developing secure software and know the rules to follow. This is not the method in common use today, yet deploying security after software has been developed will inevitably leave gaps that potentially leak user data in all directions. To avoid 2020 being more of the same, organizations need to change their approach and prioritize hiring trained and experienced developers.

Computing will go from the Edge to Edgeless

In 2020, organizations will begin to fully exploit the potential of edge computing. They will use processing on devices to provide faster services for end users; to avoid the risk of network failure or of having to create and share duplicates of sensitive data; and make their services more cost-effective when operational costs such as energy use are, at least in part, shared with the end device.

At present, there is still a clearly defined edge and center — with smart devices processing data but ultimately feeding information back to databases on central servers. In 2020, we will see the concept of the "edge" become less meaningful. There will be more and more use cases where the edge essentially works with itself; devices communicating with one another to run applications without the "cloud" and leaving central servers out of the equation entirely, or at most involving them to act as a data archive. The result will be "edgeless" computing, where the notion of an edge or center loses relevance. As the processing power of devices will keep being eclipsed by the next generation, we will see the rapid growth of edgeless computing where processing can truly happen anywhere.

Andrew C. Oliver is Director of Product Marketing and Evangelism for Couchbase
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