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Technology Radar Vol.18

Insights into the technology and trends shaping the future

Themes for this edition

The need for better user experiences continues to push functionality into the browser, and many back-end services become thinner and less complex as a result.
While organizations continue to mature in their use of cloud technologies, an inevitable creeping complexity always accompanies building real solutions with these new pieces.
We see a shift in the traditional "lock everything down globally" approach to a more nuanced, localized approach. We welcome this shift, especially when tools and automation can ensure equal or better compliance.
The Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem continues to evolve at a steady and strong pace and includes critical success factors such as security and maturing engineering practices.

Browser Bulks Up, Server Slims Down

The browser continues to expand its capabilities as a deployment target for application logic. As platforms take care of more cross-cutting concerns and nonfunctional requirements, we see a trend toward reduced complexity in back-end logic. The introduction of WebAssembly opens up new language options to create logic for web applications and pushes processing closer to the metal (and the GPU). Web Bluetooth enables browsers to handle functionality formerly reserved for native applications, and we increasingly see open standards such as CSS Grid Layout and CSS Modules supplanting custom libraries. The search for better user experiences encourages the trend toward pushing functionality into the browser, and many back-end services become thinner and less complex as a result.

Creeping Cloud Complexity

While AWS continues to race ahead with a dizzying array of new services, we increasingly see Google Cloud Platform (GCP) and Microsoft Azure mature as viable alternatives. Abstraction layers such as Kubernetes and practices such as continuous delivery and infrastructure as code facilitate the transition between clouds by supporting easier evolutionary change. But cloud strategies necessarily become more complex with the advent of Polycloud (which allows organizations to pick and choose multiple providers based on differentiated capabilities) and growing regulatory and privacy concerns. For example, many EU countries now legally mandate data locality, making the jurisdiction of data storage and the underlying host policies a new dimension of differentiation for cloud evaluators. The range of options for compute environments is also increasing, with AWS Fargate offering containers as a service (CaaS) as an intriguing middle ground between functions as a service and managing longer-lived clusters. While cloud resources continue to mature within organizations, an inevitable creeping complexity always accompanies building real solutions with these new pieces.

Trust Teams but Verify

Security remains of paramount concern for virtually all software development. But we see a shift in the traditional "lock everything down globally" approach to a more nuanced, localized approach. Many systems now manage trust within smaller domains and use modern mechanisms to create transitive trust between disparate systems. The philosophy has shifted from "never trust anything" outside of the domain and "never verify anything" inside the domain to "trust but verify" everywhere — that is to say, assume well-intentioned interactions with other parts of the system but verify trust at the local level. This enables teams to enjoy high degrees of control over their own infrastructure, equipment, and application stacks, leading to high visibility and, when necessary, high guardrails for access. Tools such as Scout2 and techniques such as BeyondCorp reflect this maturing perspective on trust. We welcome this shift toward localized autonomy, especially when tools and automation can ensure equal or better compliance.

things Evolve

The Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem continues to evolve at a steady and strong pace and includes critical success factors such as security and maturing engineering practices. We see growth across the entire IoT ecosystem, from on-device operating systems to connectivity standards and most strongly in cloud-based device management and data processing. We see maturity in tools and frameworks that support good engineering practices such as continuous delivery, deployment, and a host of other necessities for eventual widespread use. In addition to the main cloud providers — including Google IoT Core , AWS IoT, and Microsoft Azure IoT Hub — companies such as Alibaba and Aliyun are also investing heavily in IoT PaaS solutions. Our EMQ and Mongoose OS blips provide a glimpse of the mainstream capabilities of today’s IoT ecosystem and illustrate that things are evolving nicely indeed.

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