Your 2014 heat map for enterprise technology

Slept through CES 2014? You didn't miss much. The real action is behind the scenes in enterprise technology, where old models are being smashed as ingenious new tech emerges

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Cloud data integration. No database should be an island. A slew of providers has emerged to help IT implement, scale, and manage cloud data integration, including Cordys, Dell Boomi, IBM Cast Iron, Informatica, Layer 7, MuleSoft, and SnapLogic. As businesses increasingly turn to public cloud solutions, well-planned cloud integration is the only way to avoid slipping into the modern, miserable version of the siloed enterprise.

App dev and deployment solutions
Ultimately, the job of IT is to deliver applications to users, but applications are a lot more fluid than they used to be. Today, close collaboration with business and continuous analysis of user behavior dictates frequent revisions throughout the application lifecycle -- which benefits greatly from a cloud dev and test infrastructure. In addition, as cloud moves to the center of the computing experience, one idea taking hold is the notion of a core application code base that can be quickly adapted to run across the complete range of Web and mobile platforms.

Platform as a service. Think of PaaS (platform as a service) as an application server in the cloud coupled with integrated management and deployment tools. Up until recently, PaaS has been used primarily by commercial Web and mobile app developers, yet lately an increasing number of enterprises are giving PaaS a spin. Leading public cloud PaaS players include Pivotal Cloud Foundry, Microsoft Windows Azure, Red Hat OpenShift, Google App Engine, and the Salesforce offerings Force.com and Heroku, not to mention such small independent players such as CloudBees.

Mobile back end as a service. This is similar to PaaS, but specifically targets mobile app developers with additional services. Your typical mobile app coder doesn't want to worry about building storage, identity management, notifications, and other services from scratch. Mobile-back-end-as-a-service providers such as Parse and StackMob deliver all these services as an integrated cloud offering and help developers manage the entire mobile app lifecycle.

JavaScript on fire. Applications that run in the browser have simply not measured up to native desktop or mobile apps, but new, inventive JavaScript frameworks (such as Famo.us) are closing the gap. Couple an excellent, responsive UI with the ability to access your data anywhere -- and even to save state across devices -- and why do you need a native app at all? Alternatively, core JavaScript code can be encapsulated in native wrappers to access special features of specific devices.

Data visualization. As InfoWorld's Andrew Oliver predicts, 2014 will be the year of data. A very interesting set of JavaScript tools is emerging to build applications that enable users to visualize all that data, including D3, InfoViz, Processing.js, and Recline.js.

Cloud IDEs. GitHub and Atlassian provide massive cloud-based repositories and versioning systems for millions of developers around the world. But when it comes to actual coding, the vast majority of developers stick with their local machines. That may be changing with such native cloud IDE offerings as JSFiddle, Icenium, Cloud9, and Codenvy

This list of technologies, once again, is not meant to be particularly comprehensive or logically arranged. I find them all fascinating -- and I believe they are all important, concrete technology components of the vague industry trends analysts like to bloviate about. IDC, for example, positions its 3rd Platform as a threat to conventional IT, since mobile computing, cloud services, big data and analytics, and social networking can all be procured by business directly without IT's help. Sure, in the short term -- but the downstream effect of the consumerization of IT in large enterprises will be a cloud-scale hairball if IT doesn't play a role in buying, managing, and integrating that technology.

We'll see how that struggle plays out soon enough. Meanwhile, for technology enthusiasts who can see past the shiny consumer baubles, today's burst of inventive enterprise tech provides endless entertainment.

This article, "Your 2014 heat map for enterprise technology," originally appeared at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Eric Knorr's Modernizing IT blog. And for the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld on Twitter.

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