By Chris Stone
The history of software technologies has shown two things: trends of the past tend to crop up again, and they always inspire greater innovation
Products of the future have consistently been created through the collaboration and evolution of former concepts. Technologies seen as commonplace today, from the internet to smartphones, all formed out of complex ideas from the past. Because of this, often the best way to predict the future is by taking a look at the past.
Many trends and technologies have emerged and disrupted their respective industries over the last few years. Now, though, these innovations are ready to really take off and make their mark on a larger scale.
Here is what three of the past’s most revolutionary trends will evolve into throughout the next year.
1. What was once activity directory will be federation identity management on the web
Novell and Microsoft built directory services and active directory in the late 1990s as databases to manage identity and keep track of users’ profiles and access to services within networks.
They were mostly used within single networks or organisations. Novell, along with Netscape, helped create LDAP and then tried to federate web-based information with internal directory information on individuals, but the idea happened before way its time.
There are similar “namespaces” or directories for the web (for example, PHP Namespaces). But now, other technical components (for example, complex matching algorithms pairing data with directory information) are finally falling into place to use identity to deliver personalised information to individuals.
The larger question for 2016 is how active of a role the consumer will want to take in managing his or her own identity. 2016 could be the year personal information brokering (PIM) reaches a fever pitch, before adoption.
2. What was once service-oriented architecture will be microservices and distributed computing (container) environments
This idea was all about how application components could provide services to other components via a network’s communication protocol. It was thought to be “killed by the cloud”, or it largely languished because cloud infrastructure wasn’t mature enough at the time – depends on who you ask.
Microservices are applications broken down into small, loosely coupled pieces. Using microservices, businesses can automate out of large-scale failure by isolating problems, and save on computing resources.
In 2016, more companies will run microservices in a containerised environment and automatically isolate components when they fail or need maintenance.
Using these environments, the cloud will become like a utility, and companies can begin to charge for their services based on usage, much like electricity or water.
3. What was once PointCast/push technology will be the ‘big reverse‘
PointCast was before its time as bandwidth and network capabilities weren’t up to the job of delivering personalised content to the user in a “push” broadcast format – in other words, it failed a lot.
Management and large-scale economic challenges plagued the company and ultimately the idea was acquired by Idealab and disappeared.
With more devices shipping without browsers and the volume of data getting infinitely larger on the web, there will be a return to delivering the right information to the right user at the right time in the right context.
With short-format messaging and notifications rising to prominence on mobile devices, the website won’t look like a website for long – it could change as soon as next year like a “big reverse of the web”. The Internet of Things is nothing more than an instantiation of this concept.
When it comes to technology, dwelling on the past is encouraged. By understanding trends of the past – what worked and what didn’t – businesses can better refine their approach moving forward.
2016 will be the year when ideas from technology’s distant and more recent past will step into the spotlight and show their true potential. But even then, the innovation won’t stop.