In my travels, I am fortunate to see new and interesting innovations, emerging technologies and trends. Of course, the growth of mobile and cloud technologies continues to shape our work and lives. 2014 will be a year that builds on the momentum of these trends, along with IoT, with more connected people, processes data and things than ever before.  Here’s my take on the most significant things we’ll see in 2014.



1. Increasing urgency to manage our zettabyte-driven world.

The proliferation of mobile devices, streaming video and explosion of applications has meant that global IP traffic has exploded more than 4x in the past 5 years. IP traffic will again triple over the next 5 years. In 2013, we generated a momentous 1.2 zettabytes of new information and 70 billion apps were downloaded. Wireless traffic will exceed wired traffic and video-on-demand traffic will nearly triple in three years.

A fast growing portion of that information is data coming from smart devices and sensors. This data has tremendous potential, but it retains its highest value for only a short period of time. Finding the data is not difficult, but identifying the best data to use from among all the data available can be difficult. This new data will give us the ability to see things we couldn’t have seen before. The challenge is how to manage and extract value from a constant stream of information and create new personalized, interactive, and relevant services.

As we live, work and play in a world powered by zettabytes of information, businesses and governments will need to not only recognize this surge in information, but leverage agile, intelligent and secure infrastructures to handle the demands of today… and tomorrow.

2. Everyone’s looking at cloud. The reality is, you need hybrid cloud.

These days, about half of CIOs are looking at cloud for applications and infrastructure. Global cloud IP traffic is expected to account for more than two-thirds of data center traffic by 2017. With these figures in mind, it’s clear that cloud-based infrastructure solutions are defining how and where our critical information is stored and managed.

But you can’t ignore your installed base – most likely already using private cloud infrastructure. So the only answer is hybrid cloud. That is, multiple cloud deployments offerings, combined to enable data and application portability. Over the next year, we will see the continued importance of unique and personalized cloud solutions across enterprises and organizations. To best  answer the “make or buy” question, IT organizations will act more and more as a broker of cloud services, orchestrating the planning and procurement process across both internal and external clouds. This is especially evident as more enterprise apps are deployed (the average enterprise user downloads seven enterprise-specific apps) and the ratio of workloads to non-virtualized cloud centers increase.

In addition, new cloud solutions help IT organizations tightly align technology with business priorities, in order to capture new revenue opportunities and deliver new services. Cloud adoption will allow these services to be delivered at a faster pace and continue to reduce the infrastructure’s Total Cost of Ownership.

3. How do you manage 70B apps? The real revolution is in software and new IoE platforms.  

As more people, process, data and things are being interconnected, software (not just apps) and new IoE platforms will be the key to enable and manage new exciting experiences. Software will play an important role in helping infrastructure become more open, programmable, and application-aware. It’s so vital that approximately 80% of Cisco R&D engineers focus on software. Over the next year, enterprises and organizations will need to deliver advanced applications and services for physical, virtual, and cloud environments via a fully integrated framework.

Software-defined networking (SDN) is a hot topic right now and the ideas of software defined operations are becoming more widely accepted. While adoption today is still in its infancy, businesses still need to be focused on a simplified approach across all IT domains. For example, Cisco’s Open Network Environment delivers a comprehensive approach to infrastructure programmability, openness (open environments) and application awareness. That’s what Cisco’s ONE is all about.

As you’re thinking about concepts like software-defined networking (SDN), consider the broader implications of a software-defined infrastructure or software defined operations for greater flexibility, agility and security across the entire IT infrastructure.

4. Security is paramount. The only way to deal with billions of devices connecting is holistically.

Expanding connectivity from any device—and billions of devices—to many clouds is having a significant impact on the threat landscape.  Our multiple devices and all the new sensors and the new data coming from all these new things are connecting to various networks and services through a wide range of applications. This exposes more vulnerabilities. For example:

  • Only a fraction of smartphones and tablets are protected by security software, despite a rise in the amount of malware targeted at mobile devices.
  • McKinsey states that 55% of executives are concerned about IP leaks.

Request the Cisco Annual Security Report for 2014

100% of the companies surveyed in the 2014 Cisco Annual Security Report have already experienced malicious malware on their networks, and these network penetrations may be undetected over long periods. So the conversation has turned from “when will I be affected?” to “how long have I been infected?” And that points to the need for a different security strategy.

However, building a better security infrastructure doesn’t mean creating a more complex architecture—in fact, quite the opposite. It’s about making the infrastructure and the elements within it work together, with more intelligence and visibility to detect, mitigate and remediate threats.

With the rapid adoption of BYOD, the reality of multiple devices per user, and growth of cloud-based services, the era of managing security capabilities on each endpoint is over. On a $0.99 sensor, it’s not feasible to include expensive antivirus software. Instead, organizations need to constantly and dynamically manage the trust associated with a network or a device.  They need to monitor for threats before, during and after an attack. They need capabilities to monitor traffic and perform advanced behavioral analysis of real-time data.

5. The Internet of Me finally arrives: real personalized, mobile, cloud-based experiences.

At this point, it’s de rigueur to talk about BYOD, mobile content management, privacy requirements and HTML 5 apps. What I believe we will see in 2014 is an increased emphasis on user experience, with more voice/video, more customization based on location or preference, and application-awareness, resulting in more intelligence in the offerings delivered to users.

In television, the move to completely personalized content on any device is advancing at a rapid pace. At CES earlier this month, I showed a demonstration of our latest Videoscape interface that not only allows you to view future and past time-shifted content, but also creates a customized experience based on your habits and interests. It’s pretty easy to see how this extends to other personalized services—like shopping—based on what you’re watching. More combined experiences like this will increasingly become the norm.

 The implications of this change on the infrastructure are big: more server-side computing and storage capacity, more device management, and more sophisticated and user-based security. This doesn’t mean more complexity, but rather a drive to simplification. It also means speed to market.

 6. Your bonus 2014 top trend: The Internet of Everything is happening now.

Gartner just concluded a nice analysis around four areas of IoE focus: manage, monetize, operate and extend. That’s a convenient shorthand way to think about how to approach IoE.

Right now we are becoming comfortable with the first steps of IoE: embracing IoT with 10 billion connected objects growing to 50B and beyond, managing all that new data and Cisco Next-Gen-IT-Predictions combining it with mobile and video experiences, putting information where it’s needed, etc.  Creating new experiences to delight customers and consumers. Those are the first steps.

The Internet of Everything is providing a new kind of value in our hyper-connected world. But we are just scratching the surface. As we more easily capture data and personalize services, and automate and orchestrate resources as they’re needed, we can dream up and implement new IoE experiences and services. Something like Videoscape is cool—I’m not sure I can go back to watching TV the “old way”—but it’s just the beginning. Our latest IoE recent research adds the $4.6 public sector value at stake to give us a $19 trillion IoE total opportunity. That’s big. We need to capture this value through a new model for IT that can make new insights and experiences a reality.

If you think tech has infiltrated your life, just wait. You can feel the potential for monumental change as we begin to interconnect the physical and virtual worlds. Like back in the 70’s when I first saw ARPANET, and in 1993 when I first saw the first web browser, now with IoE, I can feel the potential to change the world yet again.  Let’s do it.

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Jim Grubb

Chief Technology Evangelist

Cisco Customer Experience Center