Looking back on 2012, we saw the blooming of LTE (thank you, iPhone 5), the arrival of 802.11ac (a year and a half ahead of the standard actually being done, but, hey, what else is new?), a shift from caring about platforms to caring about apps (yes, I know this statement remains controversial, but I stand by it, more now than ever, in fact), a far greater emphasis on the cloud (what we used to call timesharing when I was a young'un), and, summing up here, a shift in the focus of IT/network innovation from lower levels of the protocol stack all the way to Layer 7. This trend will accelerate, and rapidly, in 2013, with a continually-increasing degree of platform independence in such key areas as the provisioning of apps, storage, collaboration, and, well, just about everything IT needs. This is a direct consequence of what I have been calling sufficiency in mobility; we have almost everything we need now in terms of WLAN and WWAN products and services and we can now depend upon these for mission-critical activities across the board. The one area of mobility where we're still lacking is in being able to depend upon the availability of wireless broadband services essentially anywhere, but this, too, is improving (look for increasing LTE buildouts and particularly Wi-Fi offload, which is now known as Next Generation Hotspots). For example, I've been on many flights this year with Wi-Fi service available (perhaps because I shifted away from United and started trying their competitors; jetBlue gets a gold star, BTW), and it's been a long time since I saw a "no service" indicator on my handset or even had a dropped call. We have always been moving towards the ideal of continuous connectivity, and such is now at least on the horizon - the early-'90s mantra of "anytime, anywhere" is at last well within our grasp.
Analysts, as I've said before, are fundamentally in the business of predicting the future, and it's getting easier all the time to accomplish that goal (not a particularly good sign for the future of my enterprise as currently constructed, but I'm working on that). The key theme for 2013, and, really, going forward, will be where it really should have been all along - on information and meeting the needs of users, with technology at Layers 1-3 as a vehicle for productivity, and not end in itself or element of confusion, distraction, or delay. In short, the emphasis is now where it needs to be - on data and applications, the very soul of IT. We now have all of the required wireless and mobile technologies to bring this about - again, sufficiency. And note that this even includes esoteric applications like network management, with an increasing emphasis on automation, unified wired/wireless management, and the gradual integration of all those point-solution innovations of recent years, like mobile device, application, information, expense, security, and policy management, into overall enterprise-management solutions. Exciting times ahead. Post PC world? How about post-networks world? Or, at least, wireless disappearing back into the ether from which it is constructed, a new silent service that, well, just works.
And with that it's time to close out 2012 - on to Silent Night, anway. We'll be officially closed as of today, Friday, 21 December, until 7 January, but I'll be here doing the usual end-of-year clean-up and network/computer maintenance. I hope your 2012 was profitable and productive, and that your 2013 will be ever better - happy holidays and happy new year to all!
Mathias is a principal at Farpoint Group, a wireless advisory firm in Ashland, Mass.