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9 gifts IT needed but didn't get in 2016

Mary Branscombe | Jan. 3, 2017
In 2016 IT departments received technology that disappointed, didn’t deliver, took the wrong direction or didn’t arrive at all. Here’s what your IT team is still waiting for as we head into 2017.

Private app stores

Remember when every business was going to have its own app store (or its own custom version of the big-name app stores) with line of business apps showing up alongside the latest mobile hits? According to the latest CCS Insight decision maker survey, only 11 percent of companies have a private app store. Even for large firms, it’s only 29 percent. And only 28 percent of companies have made any custom apps. That leaves most employees going to public app stores and a good deal of confusion about what they’re allowed to do there. While 69 percent of decision-makers say employees are supposed to get IT approval for buying apps, only 31 percent of employees agree.

Given that the most popular apps are Microsoft Office, Skype, Google Apps, Dropbox and Facebook (if you ask IT teams), and Office, Adobe for PDFs, Skype, LinkedIn and WhatsApp (if you ask employees), private app stores may not be that important, as long as your line of business apps work in mobile web browsers.

Portable, hybrid cloud

OpenStack was going to be a way to have compatible private and public cloud services so you could migrate a workload from your own data center to a cloud service, move it to another cloud service or bring it back in house whenever the costs looked better. With HP and Cisco closing down their OpenStack services, that’s looking less like the direction CIOs want from public cloud. Indeed, it was customer feedback that had Microsoft switch Azure Stack to focus on bringing the higher-level, higher-value PaaS services to hybrid cloud instead of the commodity IaaS services you can switch between.

Those commodity IaaS options aren’t as interchangeable as they could be: You can use a cloud broker to move VMs from cloud to cloud, but you still need different VPNs for each cloud and every cloud has its own resource management interfaces for controlling resources like storage and databases and its own key management services for encryption.

Investing in the complex orchestration platform you’d need to have in order to achieve frictionless cloud mobility would likely cost more than you could save by migration. This is because of how closely the big cloud services price match each other, especially when the real value is leveraging those higher-level PaaS services. If you’re worried about cloud lock-in, think about flexible, decoupled design patterns that you could re-implement on another service, not the intercloud equivalent of lift and shift.

General AI

AI chatbots, business analytics and machine learning matured this year to the point that most businesses can usefully start to take advantage of them for areas like security, CRM and support. Conversational interfaces in chat clients or on devices are becoming useful, at least for quick queries. But what we don’t have, and might never get, is general purpose ‘artificial intelligence’ that can do any job the way a human can. If your Facebook chatbot stops getting calls from customers, you can’t put it to work analyzing phishing emails. You’d have to create a whole new data model and build a whole new system to tackle another information domain.


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