Thursday, December 26, 2013

Looking back at 2013, with pointers to 2014

I wrote a prediction post a year ago so I'm going to review and update it. Here's last year in full "Looking back at 2012, with pointers to 2013" .

The headlines from last year, with comments and updates:

Mobile Bandwidth Greater than Fixed Bandwidth
This trend continues. LTE can get congested in cities, but the latest news is Verizon upgrading it's network to have more capacity and speeds up to 100Mbit/s. I'm about to get an LTE MiFi for our house so that when we want higher speed or our local DSL gets congested, it's available, and when we go away we can take it with us. I'll keep the DSL for background connectivity, and to avoid hitting the MiFi bandwidth cap too much.

Cutting The Cable/Satellite TV Feed

We still don't have cable/satellite. I got a Google Chromecast, but it's slow and fiddly to use compared to the AppleTV, and buggy for streaming Pandora, keeps dropping the stream. The picture quality is good though.

The Netflix Open Source Cloud Platform Got Traction

We close out 2013 with 39 distinct projects at, a successful Netflix Cloud Prize contest, endorsements from many more companies including IBM, and growing acceptance that Cloud Native is an important concept that supports highly agile continuous delivery, and NetflixOSS is an onramp that accelerates transitioning to Cloud Native.

Netflix Cloud Architecture Presentations

I presented even more than in 2012, see the slides I posted at I've also got a permanent link to a full set of workshop slides at which is easier to remember, and lets me update the workshop slides from time to time.

The Concept of Anti-Fragility Took Off

Taleb's book and concept became more accepted. Ariel Tseitlin wrote an ACM paper for Netflix on The Antifragile Organization.

Cloud, Open Source, SaaS and the End of Enterprise Computing

"During 2013 we will see if Google manages to invest heavily and execute well enough to build up a big user base."
Google came out of beta and closed some gaps, but it's not clear that they are building up a big user base. They have their fans, and in some areas have some technical advantages, but still have a lot to prove. Other public cloud vendors didn't make much headway. Microsoft Azure remains strong in it's own ecosystem, but hasn't broken out into general use, and others are getting further behind or being bought.

"I personally think in 2014 we will likely see [...] the scale, features and price point of AWS and Google clouds make everyone else irrelevant." I still think this is true. The 2013 Garner Magic Quadrant for IaaS didn't include Google as they were in beta, but showed AWS as dominant. It also included an estimate that AWS delivered capacity was five times bigger than the next 14 vendors combined. i.e. AWS was 85% of the market by delivered capacity (not by $ revenue). My tracking of AWS size by looking at their reserved IP address space continues to show that AWS is doubling in size every year, and has grown 10x over the last three years, reaching 5.1 million IP addresses in September 2013.

Most big enterprise companies are actively working on their AWS rollout now. Most of them are also trying to get an in-house cloud to work, with varying amounts of success, but even the best private clouds are still years behind the feature set of public clouds, which is has a big impact on the agility and speed of product development.

Solar Powered Electric Cars Are For Real Now

Our Nissan Leaf is getting towards the end of it's three year lease, and we're replacing it with a Fiat 500e. The Fiat is smaller and lighter, but has the same size battery, so gets a bit more range. It's also cheaper and more fun to drive. During 2013 a lot of people bought Tesla Model S, including people who traded in Tesla Roadsters. We picked up a second hand 2010 Tesla Roadster with full factory warranty, and although the technology is a bit older, it's a great fun car with over 200 miles real world range for longer trips. Even with two electric cars, we still generated more electricity than we used this year, so the marginal cost of energy is still zero for our household and our gasoline spend is way down.

Global Warming Arrived in the USA in 2012

"I'm going to try and re-balance my 401K retirement accounts to divest from oil companies. Many students are nowpressuring their colleges to divest from oil as well." I spent a few hours on Fidelity Investments web site and reduced my investments in the energy sector to a minimum. The divestment movement is also gathering momentum. The public conversation continues to shift, more extreme weather in the US and worldwide is helping, and the IPCC released an updated report.

Twitter and Snapchat

I had 6,500 followers on Twitter at the end of 2012, and I have 10,500 at the end of 2013. I correctly predicted that Snapchat would continue to grow in 2013, and it was reported that more photos are uploaded per day into Snapchat than into Facebook. Twitter had it's IPO, and is becoming part of the news and entertainment infrastructure with it's own ecosystem. I think they will figure out how to continue to grow and make money, so I bought a few shares to have skin in the game.

New for 2014:

Google Glass will have a successful public launch

I got Glass last summer, and have been using it a bit and letting other people try it a lot. I just got a hardware update that makes my developer set compatible with the final consumer version, and it's clear that Google is getting much closer to having a real product to launch. No-one knows the price, and that will determine how widely people get Glass, but the feature set and support is now quite interesting. There is a generational divide, in that many younger people like and want Glass, and older people are more wary or bothered by it. Trying it out in person lets people understand what it does and doesn't do, and greatly increases acceptance.

The Glass features that I was waiting for have mostly been addressed. The MyGlass app now supports iPhone, there is support for corporate Gmail accounts and multiple Gmail accounts on a single Glass. There is a headphone to supplement the built in speaker that was too quiet, and there will soon be prescription lens support. The last of those is the main reason I don't wear Glass every day, as I have to put in contact lenses to use it currently, and my contacts don't work as well as my glasses.

The ability to get personal GPS directions while walking (or cycling) is one of my favorite features. "First person" hangout support has huge potential although it's still too fiddly to setup, and needs good network bandwidth. Video use drains the battery quickly, although in normal use it lasts long enough to be useful all day. The add-on applications I have installed include Twitter, so I get notified immediately if someone mentions or DMs me; Evernote for keeping track of shared to-do lists; and Translate where you look at a sign and it makes an English version of the sign for you.

Voice control works better than most people expect, directions to local places is remarkably good, but voice input dictation is very random. It needs quite a lot of practice to get messages recorded that contain more than "on my way" or other simple phrases. But then I don't use Siri on my iPhone either.

Best wishes to everyone for 2014.


  1. The fixed vs mobile bandwidth question is being played out interestingly over here in the UK, too. "Tech City", in common with many parts of central London, suffers from the inability to have new fixed lines installed (quite seriously, you can't get a new wired broadband connection in or near the Square Mile), so EE are expanding a wireless mesh which supports up to 300 mbit/s.

    Opinions are divided as to how much damage the Snowden revelations and the PATRIOT Act have done (and are doing) to US-owned (not just US-based) cloud providers; I'm seeing arguments on both sides. I've got some novel angles - re-using some very old tech - on hybrid cloud security, but need to run it by people who can write the final bits of glue. I don't believe the idea of an "EU cloud trust zone" will go very far, as I don't think the EU will exist in its current form for much longer; if we're lucky, it'll revert to roughly what the EEC used to be, but it could be much, much worse. Cloud security still needs further scrutiny; I'm hoping some of the people I've dangled ideas in front of, will be in touch soon.

    I've enjoyed reading the Netflix presos. I haven't uploaded most of mine, as they're too big for Slideshare's free service. Herding big, dynamic VM sets is a big problem to solve, and while some vendors (IBM, Enstratius / Dell) are Doing The Right Thing by supporting multiple cloud providers simultaneously, I have yet to be convinced around the security of cloud provider segregation; Oracle have the perfect platform for doing this, but don't seem interested in this aspect of the market.

    I haven't seen an electric car (as opposed to a hybrid) on the road in the UK yet, but BMW are advertising the i3 heavily. Outside (hopefully) freakishly hot summers such as this year's, solar charging for cars is less viable here than in California, of course.

    I agree that Twitter's set to go places. 140 chars is useful for some M2M comms, but by no means all. I can't seem to find, given a cursory search, whether Twitter has an IPv6 presence yet - if not, it desperately needs one. An important question which needs asking, of course, is that with so many active users communicating about so many things, whether Twitter has managed to sleepwalk into becoming part of critical infrastructure (if Twitter went dark for a day, what would the consequences be?), and what will be done to make it more resilient - although it must be said it's very good, now. Hopefully, an IPO will give Twitter the money to make the infrastructure bomb-proof.

    I also agree Glass will be successful, although a prescription-lens version is definitely needed (speaking from enlightened self-interest, here; right now, I couldn't try Glass out at all). The question of covert surveillance will need to be answered; I'd suggest Google make a couple of variants of Glass for production, where one doesn't have a camera in it at all, and the other has the camera be very, very obvious (and have a recording light hard-wired and potted to the camera in a manner such that pure-software hacking can't subvert it).

    2014 isn't going to be dull, that's for certain. I'd say the biggest thing needed right now, is IPv6; guaranteed static addressing would get rid of many current kludges.

  2. Interesting that I just read Antifragile and found it fresh with exciting ideas.

    You mention this and then immediately mentioned that AWS has 85% of the market in the next section - surely a fragile situation!

    I don't think their competitive advantage can be sustained forever. They seem to be innovating fast and dropping prices fast just to maintain their dominance.



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