2018 Predictions: What to Expect in Application Platforms

C. Dunlap

Summary Bullets:

  • Technology vendors will productize and operationalize key application platform components through pre-assembled toolchains and pipelines to ease configuration complexities.
  • Traditional MEAP solutions are being enhanced and repositioned to address advanced app development requirements, including mobile, web, IoT, and chatbots.

In 2017, IT operations played a greater role than ever in the application development and deployment process, albeit amid extreme configuration complexity. The prospect of advancing modern app development through new architectures that better support the DevOps model and need for continuous integration, continuous delivery (CI/CD) was certainly part of vendors’ messaging throughout the year. However, deployment complexities were prevalent, stunting the potential of emerging platform services.

In 2018, GlobalData expects vendors to abstract the complex configuration of infrastructure management associated with platform services, making it easier for developers to access sophisticated services including AI, ML, mobile, and IoT, while providing operations with improved management capabilities throughout the application lifecycle.

Operational Efficiency via ALM and Modern App Development Architectures

Largely spurred by open source software projects, vendors are finally beginning to heed the call and address DevOps issues through accessible tools and frameworks to encourage adoption of microservices and serverless computing.

In 2018, the potential of the DevOps concept will finally be realized, and vendors will produce new platform releases and functionality that primarily benefit operations teams. Platforms, tools, and architectures will let developers focus on coding while abstracting infrastructure layers of complex configuration. Developers will begin to have access to serverless computing around mid-2018 through platform services integrations, helping meet the business demand for advanced, interactive mobile apps and IoT projects, while abstracting infrastructure details even further than those of PaaS and containerization. Operations groups will have access to technology that supports event-based automation and monitoring functionality for better visibility into the performance and activities of applications. ALM will be a prominent feature of platform services, for example, through the use of toolchains, which provide guidance around a typical DevOps lifecycle, including services and pipelines for automated testing, A/B testing, and other advanced concepts.

Mobility Platforms Repositioned to Address Modern Apps

Mobile application development platform providers are demonstrating progress in providing innovative solutions for creating a broad swath of enterprise apps. With mobility as the integral component of modern projects, including IoT, web, and chatbots, innovations around cloud, cognitive, data, security, and analytics are closely tied into mobility. MEAP providers either offer these comprehensive solutions (such as IBM) or expand platform integrations with third-party providers (such as Kony). Because of the fluctuating infrastructure demands around these sophisticated applications, serverless computing (aka functions-as-a-service, or FaaS) often accompanies modern mobile discussions, and will therefore begin to play a larger role in mobile app deployments next year. Because it runs code only on demand, FaaS provides an operations model with optimal utility and granular pricing and scaling on a per-request basis.

Furthermore, in 2018, expect to see a broader array of deployment offerings around mobile and IoT projects, addressing customers at varying stages of the journey from on-premises to cloud, as they grapple with data privacy and regulatory concerns. Along with those offerings will be orchestration and management features, including control flow and automatic state management. Enterprises should also expect to see a flurry of new SaaS or pre-built applications targeting verticals; these will include advanced technologies such as blockchain and analytics, initially aimed at the financial sectors and shored through cloud services. SaaS offerings in particular will aim to address regulatory compliance issues, particularly those in industry verticals. In addition, owing to the advancements in OSS efforts around improving integration between cloud providers, vendors will expand their platform services to include integrated third-party partner technologies to bring emerging mobile solutions to market quickly.

For more details on these predictions, please see “2018 Predictions: What to Expect in Application Platforms,” December 8, 2017.

For insight into 2018 predictions on the broader Global IT Technology and Software, please see “2018 Predictions: What to Expect in Global IT Technology and Software,” December 22, 2017.

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