Conscious uncoupling in the enterprise: Time for the next phase of services

Cloud services are mainstream in enterprises, but now a much more complex challenge looms.
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer
World Trade Center NYC construction Aug 2012-Photo by Joe McKendrick
Photo: Joe McKendrick

The cloud revolution is over. That is, cloud is now thoroughly embedded in enterprise systems and processes, to the point that it's simply "computing." Services now proliferate across organizations, addressing both business and IT requirements. That raises the question: Where do we go from here?

That's the word from Bill McNee of Saugatuck Technology, who points out in a recent research note that the cloud experimentation era is over, and now it's time to start exploring the next phase in enterprise service development. This consists of an "increasingly complex combination(s) of cloud, mobility, social IT, analytics, and an increasing range of devices (containing an ever-widening array of sensors, including mobile devices)."

Areas of concentration and exploration in many enterprises include digital business (a very broad category), the API economy (service oriented architecture, 2014 style), and the Internet of Everything (another very broad category).

APIs are paving the way to mobility in the enterprise, McNee observes. "APIs themselves drastically simplify the creation of mobile applications, as they abstract the information and functionality from the underlying application and business logic. As the plethora of mobile device form factors also expanded, having a streamlined way to deliver applications to these devices drove many applications toward an API strategy."

The API economy is well understood, as we've been working to put SOA practices in place for more than a decade now.  However, what McNee calls the Internet of Everything is a vast, little-understood frontier. "Everything is a source of data, and everything is connected or connectable," he observes. "This emergent inter-connected business and IT reality brings with it unprecedented challenges, mainly due to its almost completely unpredictable scale and complexities.... its effects are likely to be outside of previous experience and its requirements will be beyond most existing skills and resources."

The IofE brings with it the need to be able to integrate, assimilate, and draw insights from Big Data—those huge volumes of unstructured files now flooding into enterprises. Sensors, log data, streaming analytics all need to become part of the shared service infrastructure. Expect to see a lot of interaction with data analyst or data scientist types who can help decide what nuggets of data are important to the business, and the remaining 99% that are not so important.

The well-worn phrase "loosely coupled" will never be more important. It will be up to enterprise architects and development teams to design systems that can capture and hold this information. The architectures will need to be flexible enough that users will be able to automatically add data sources and analytical engines on a moment's notice. 

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