(This Three Must-Study Technologies article was originally published in Wired’s Innovation Insights by James Brown, CXO at JumpCloud®)
Technology in 2014 is pretty impressive. Every year we see hugely innovative technologies and new areas to research. I feel incredibly fortunate to be working in such a dynamic, vibrant industry.
Innovation, and the drive to innovate, really keeps IT pros sharp in a way that only learning and thinking can. You have to think about advances in two different ways. First, how can you actually put it to use. Then, how can you make improvements to it so it works best for your company.
As we start to push further into 2014, what are some of the technologies that have or will emerge this year? While I’m sure that we could pick any number of different technologies, there are three that stand out most due to the interesting areas they are in, which of course are really starting to gain some attention: Docker, Go, and anti-NSA technology. We believe that each of these areas could be relevant for any business and even more interesting for technologists looking to learn.
An open source project run by the for-profit organization Docker, the technology is a next generation ‘container’ solution. Containers are self-contained applications that are isolated from an operating system perspective similar to virtualization, but with much less overhead. The theory behind the technology is similar to what happened in the rail and shipping worlds about 50 years ago. In order to streamline cargo transport, the shipping industry started using standard sized containers. These containers could be put on ships, trains, and trucks, thereby standardizing a number of pieces of the shipping equation.
Similarly, Docker is aiming to create standard application containers that are portable across servers. The benefit of this is portability, scaling, and efficiency. Unlike virtualization where each virtual machine is a complete unique server with the OS and application included, a container is largely separated from the OS. As a result, there is only one full operating system per server. This creates significant efficiency versus a server hosting a number of VMs.
Docker is built for Linux. A core part of its stack includes LXC which is the container technology for Linux. Docker effectively adds functionality over LXC that makes containers truly portable and abstracts a large number of functions into a command line interface that is easy for developers to use. While it is very early in Docker’s life cycle, the technology is gaining a lot of momentum and notoriety. Docker is being envisioned as the next generation platform-as-a-service technology that is language and platform independent. For those looking to deploy and manage applications in an easier way, take a look at Docker. It may be an interesting next generation technology.
Initially developed at Google, Go has its roots in C. The goal was to create a more concise and simple language but yet highly efficient. After all, Google’s scale has demanded new technology solutions to age old problems. One of Go’s significant benefits is that it’s designed for large-scale systems with built-in ways to manage concurrency and load balancing while being much more efficient with memory than Java. Programmers that have used Go liken it more to scripting than more structured languages with the benefit of faster execution speed.
Go is early in its life cycle being only about 5 years old. It has been gaining a great deal of steam and is being used in critical back-end systems, particularly at Google. The language clearly has the ability to scale and handle complex software systems, but is it ready for prime time? Developers are mixed but optimistic. If you have the opportunity to build a new project where a new language could be in the cards, take a look at Go.
History may end up viewing 2013 as the year the NSA fundamentally shifted the perceptions of privacy and communications on the Internet. With revelations that the NSA has cracked commonly used encryption to data feeds from major ISPs to the ability to spy on ‘offline’ computers, organizations are concerned that their data and more importantly their customer’s data is being compromised by the NSA. There is a growing movement in the technology community to thwart these attempts to gather data by the NSA.
Technologists are working on such innovations as private social media solutions, obfuscated browsing techniques, stronger encryption techniques, and secure mobile technology. Undoubtedly, there will be many more leaks of new and interesting approaches that the NSA is taking to gain more access to private data. This area will be a closely watched technology area that will have impact worldwide. This year, many organizations will ask their DevOps and IT admins to learn what they can do to protect their customers from government spying.
The coming year will be filled with interesting technology. And as we sit here today, these three are excellent cutting-edge innovations to spend some time looking at. No doubt that there will be many more new technologies hitting the market this year. As is always the case, technologists will need to run fast to keep up. It’s the exciting part of our industry: new year, new technology, new learning.
Please check out the rest of Wired Innovation Insights’ blog.