By Badri Rajasekar, Chief Technology Officer, TokBox
Cloud continues to be one of the hottest topics in the technology space, but it encapsulates a raft of innovations and emerging trends that impacts all CTOs. In this column we're going to consider what those trends are, where there are remaining challenges and requirement for improvement and, critically, how to embrace and deliver innovation in a world of rapid change.
Firstly, what are the key trends?
I believe there are four key elements to be aware of:
Mobile Optimized: It's no surprise that mobile computing already dominates and will control the computing end-point ecosystem. BYOD is the new norm. There is a lot of momentum behind what it means to have a "mobile first strategy," but a lot of this is going to depend on cloud offerings which are highly mobile centric and mobile optimized.
Analytics: Businesses are increasingly leveraging big-data and analytics to streamline and improve the intelligence of their operations. This means that cloud technology providers need to deliver sophisticated analytics that offer full transparency to their customers, whether it's to show usage, behavior patterns, and more.
Ecosystem Manageability: Increasingly, the success of platforms will be driven by the tools and features that enable ecosystem manageability. The cloud offerings of the future need to be backed by a robust set of tools and functionality that enable customers to easily manage their real-world deployments. That could manifest itself in many ways - whether it's providing integration tools, analytics to understand behavior of the ecosystem or better deployment frameworks - manageability is the key to complex systems of the future.
Hybrid Cloud Solutions: Businesses of the future will have to grapple with lowering operational, development and deployment time while at the same time balancing privacy, security and trust. Not all customers have the same set of needs. The implication of this is going to be the emergence of hybrid cloud offerings that marry the benefits of on-premise solutions effectively with public cloud offerings.
Challenges persisting in the Cloud arena
The most important technology need of any enterprise organization is network reliability and performance. Many cloud services have not found a way to effectively marry that requirement with a robust cloud offering. Instead, solutions vendors are focusing on the optimization of computational resources, or the most advanced features. At the end of the day, a large enterprise wants to know that they can depend on your offering to work no matter what.
Today, many cloud service providers are focusing on compute optimization and reduction in deployment time alongside auto-scaling to make sure businesses can leverage and grow out their products on top of cloud offerings.
I believe the real opportunity lies in solving the problem of network optimization for real-time applications. As we move into a world with widespread connectivity, a whole host of interesting real-time applications and use-cases (Ex. Amazon Mayday) are going to have to be built on top of network optimized cloud services.
Then there's the question of great people. The key, even in highly technology-centric environments, is the ability to create and foster an environment where the very best and most creative minds can thrive and flourish. It's all about attracting, retaining and leveraging the best possible people for your organization.
Embracing Innovation and Staying True to Your Roots
At TokBox, we believe that the next great idea can come from any team member. As a result, we have tried to create a culture that gives employees a platform to express themselves. Some of these may be useful for encouraging innovation within your own organization:
- Give your employees a speaking platform: We encourage a great deal of internal sharing and collaboration. We have weekly themed technology talks called "ORCA talks" and external "Tech Toks".
- Host internal hackathons: Even though we are now part of a global teclo, Telefonica, we still very much operate as a startup. Over the years we've stayed true to our innovation roots and continue to run team wide hackathons to try and unearth the next gem that will drive our business and technology forward. While taking 2 days to move away from your roadmap may seem like a big detour, we've found that it often times revitalizes energy, increases collaboration and most importantly, communication.
- Give your team time to work on passion projects: A happy + engaged employee will turn over 10x more work than one who is not. Whether these are hackathons or 20 percent free time for pet projects, it's important for creativity to bubble up through the organization.
- Build, measure, tweak, repeat: Iterate and evolve incrementally. We live in a dynamic market with every subsequent innovative trend taking shorter time to pan out than the previous one. Speed and agility are paramount with the ability to measure and refine your product-market hypothesis.
Ultimately, the Cloud has the potential to change everything, but the fundamentals remain: great people build great technology, focus drives success and opportunity is everywhere.