Per my tradition, I humbly present 10 topics that needn't worry you this year. In all modesty I have to say that, last year, I nailed every last item: Glassholes have not taken over the world, and I see an increasing number of Lenovo notebooks and a decreasing number of Dells about.
Will this year's batch be equally accurate? Read on and we'll talk about it in 2016.
1. Oracle’s cloud play
When Oracle bought Sun, it dumped Sun’s early-stage cloud project; needless to say, it was probably the right move. Sun wasn’t great at creating software people wanted to buy and it was hard to imagine that Sun would succeed at creating a service people wanted to use.
Fast-forward a few years and Oracle has created its own cloud. I tried to review it, but the company told me to come back later. I tried getting someone at Oracle to help me get in, but no one seemed interested (in contrast to most other providers, who fell over themselves to make sure I had what I needed).
Oracle’s field salespeople basically assess how much money they think a company will pay, then sell them a site license for that amount. What the site license includes from Oracle’s menu of products is entirely negotiable. This is what makes Oracle successful: the sales team. This is why all of your favorite startups poach Oracle salespeople with a few years of experience under their belt. You’re telling me they’re going to undercut themselves with what is more of a retail/online/pay-go sales model?
2. Anything Pivotal makes except PivotalHD/Greenplum
The launch of SpringIO/SpringBoot/SpringXD is the first sign of life in the Spring project in some time. It is a good marketing ploy for a refactoring.
That said, there's an absence of field support. I think I even got fewer emails for this year’s SpringOne conference than I did the previous year. Also, I don't see a satisfying revenue model here. CloudFoundry appears alive, but it also looks like a “broad coalition of the willing” has been brought in (including IBM).
On the other hand, there's a whole lot of activity at Pivotal around PivotalHD, the Hadoop/Greenplum hybrid. This is where the action is. EMC spun off Pivotal out of parts of EMC and VMware. The move made sense: Create a startup out of technologies that weren’t getting attention inside of the company and give it its own sales force.
But you can’t create a broad-platform startup. There will always be one core focus and PivotalHD is it. I wouldn’t worry about anything else Pivotal says it's doing “as well.”
3. Oracle’s big data/NoSQL play
I could really say “anything Oracle makes that isn’t a legacy application or infrastructure,” but I want to call this out specifically.
SAP may have done a great job of marketing HANA, an RDBMS that stores its data in columns instead of rows. Oracle might want to come up with an answer, but if Oracle does anything even mildly successful here, it will screw up the vendor with the most to lose in the disruption of the status quo: Oracle.
This is the Novell problem. Anything Novell did to answer Microsoft, which gave away free with Windows what Novell’s product did, undercut Novell. This is the problem Microsoft has been having for the better part of a decade, but it's finally starting to think its way through. Unless someone at Oracle presses the button before new vendors get established, then Oracle will suffer its own lost decade.
4. Your job as a software developer
If you’re newly out of school and looking for someone to sponsor your H-1B (because Americans do not become software developers anymore), it can be a bit nerve-wracking. However, once you land that job, even if you’re mediocre, you can make a good salary.
The job may or may not be fun. The job may or may not be great, but unemployment isn’t a real threat for software developers right now. With so few people going into software development and the field’s absolute critical importance in the global economy, developers are the queens and kings.
This doesn’t mean you can live anywhere you want geographically -- yet. Basically look at the candidate cities for Google Fiber. Move there. Make the cash. Try not to suck too much or do really stupid things.
5. Hadoop going away
Hortonwork’s successful IPO and continued investment in the technologies by both Hortonworks and its competitors prove this space from a business perspective. Analysts have been fired up for years and business adoption is increasingly rapid. If your company isn’t making use of big data technologies, chances are your competitors are.
6. Microsoft's staying power
So long as Windows 10 isn’t a complete and total flop, and Nadella avoids more embarrassing sexist remarks, I expect Microsoft will continue to make a comeback this year. Azure is becoming a force to be reckoned with, and we’re seeing both keynote accounts and actual field adoption. Microsoft’s sales force is still a bit spotty, but the company is far better equipped for transitioning to a more pay-go model than Oracle.
7. NFC, Apple Pay, whatever
Until this stuff has broad adoption abroad, it won’t see much uptake in the United States, which tends to lag behind in payment technology. I’d love to see the end of the little plastic cards in my wallet, but 2015 won’t be the year. While the new mom-and-pop shops around town that had Kickstarters to go from food truck to brick and mortar are all using Square and could easily move to something new, the established joints have old credit card machines that print receipts on fax paper and haven’t been upgraded in 10 years. Don’t expect them to offer Apple Pay.
While everyone in Europe has a smart card, the United States will continue to trail. Until a large percentage of businesses offer it, no one will use it and thus no one will adopt it.
8. Netflix's survival
Netflix is being shaken down by the Comcast/TWC/Verizon oligopoly that keeps the U.S. Internet the slow, expensive turdpile we’ve all come to expect. But hey, Netflix can afford it. I mean, other than people interested in sportings and the really elderly who still use landlines, does anyone actually watch broadcast anymore?
However, in many parts of the world, due to licensing or other reasons, you still can’t get Netflix -- or if you can, it's a far cry from the massive library at full HD and beyond that we have in the States. Moreover, with all the original programming coming (for which you annoyingly have to wait a year after binge-watching for a week), you can expect that Netflix has a lot of room to grow.
9. Amazon Phone
Did you run out and start developing apps specifically for Amazon Phone and register them with Amazon’s app store? Me neither. Like the Dell Streak or HP’s WebOS devices, this is a flop. We hope Amazon continues to develop it for a while for amusement’s sake.
10. Smart watches
Apple's entry won’t matter. A watch that requires a smartphone to do anything interesting and can’t keep a charge for days or weeks at a time isn’t going to convince a generation (or two) of people who are accustomed to keeping time on their phones to start wearing uncomfortable wrist bands around their appendages. No, this is a tech pipe dream. Watches will continue to be quaint status symbols for salesmen who also wear cufflinks and of course the domain of old people who still use landlines.
So sit back, relax, watch your Netflix, laugh at the suckers who wear Apple watches for two or three weeks before they give up remembering to put it on in the morning or keep it charged, have a laugh at Oracle, and deploy something on Azure and not Cloud Foundry. Life is too short to worry.