As technical leaders, systems architects have to stay up to date on the latest developments in technology. In 2021, we shared 7 trends reshaping enterprise architecture. It is amazing to see how a few of these trends have taken shape over the last few months.
The pace at which technology is changing is astounding. For example, hyperautomation, one of the emerging trends identified in our article last year, is one of Gartner's top strategic technology trends for 2022. IT leaders have to be one step ahead of every disruption in today's digital landscape.
This year, the Enable Architect team asked a handful of technology architects—portfolio architect Eric D. Schabell, principal architect Pranjal Bathia, solution architect Angela Andrews, and chief architect Jason Dudash—to share their predictions about key technology trends to watch in 2022.
Eric D. Schabell, Portfolio Architect, Red Hat
Artificial intelligence and machine learning
One thing that has slowly taken root over the years, with varying degrees of effectiveness, has been the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) in our architectural solutions.
In 2021, it was embraced by more industries, such as healthcare, financial services, retail, and manufacturing. For 2022, architects will encounter this challenge more, and it's not just about incorporating the technology stack into your architecture landscape. It's going to require something more copious, even more than your delivery and deployment architectures into your organization and the cloud.
Delivery and deployment are but one facet of the AI/ML story, which most architects understand, but the real changes are to data and data collection feedback. Architects need to design how data feedback is provisioned to their data scientists to facilitate the learning and model updates that are a required complexity to these AI/ML solutions. Data is not just going to be a storage and retrieval issue. It's going to become more of a core citizen that travels widely throughout your organization's architecture landscape in 2022.
The world has changed drastically in the last two years, and it's made architects' ability to work remotely commonplace (for the most part). When an office is not a daily need for your job as an architect, why would you need to remain tied to local or regional companies that have offices closer to where you live?
In the coming year, retaining resources will be an even bigger challenge across the IT spectrum. This is no less relevant for architects than developers or operations. Architects will be the big-game fish that organizations worldwide are fishing for, and they will have a lot of say in how they want to work, where they want to work, and for whom they want to work.
Organizations will struggle if they fail to realize that architects are becoming a scarce global resource that they need to entice with more than monetary rewards. The year 2022 is when architects realize not only that they want to work for a vision, a culture, and to affect change in the worlds they live in, but they also have a say in making it happen.
The role of an architect has changed in the last few years, as they have become both self-aware and more globally focused in their actions. Realizing that their designs and architectures have an impact on both people and global resources has never been more obvious than in the last few years.
Data centers that suck up vast amounts of energy have led to controversial discussions around how and where organizations deploy their solutions for customers. It's not only a question of how they are creating value, but how they are improving the lives of their users. In 2022, many architects will use this self-awareness and choose to work for organizations with an explicit vision and culture that is trying to do good in the world. From healthcare to retail to governmental organizations around the globe, architects will choose to work at having an impact on improving our daily lives.
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Pranjal Bathia, Principal Architect, Red Hat
Due to the pandemic, we have seen exponential growth in cloud technology, which comes with additional risks like less control over access points, more varied attachment surfaces, less visibility into the security ecosystem, and such. In 2022, the architect's role will be more crucial in documenting the system, including their dependencies and possible risks, in detail. Up-to-date architecture documents will be the only quick and useful resource while taking speedier action on security threats or vulnerability detection in the system or their dependencies.
Architects will need to focus on different aspects of security:
- Data security, considering growth in AI/ML
- Network security
- Access control
- Authorization, considering growth in cloud and edge space
I believe the architect's role will be crucial in creating system architectures that are scalable, reliable, secure, lightweight, cloud-ready, and performant.
Until now, everything has been a choice. But now, more than ever, it's going to be crucial to make sure the system applies all of the characteristics mentioned above, as they are all gaining importance with increased digitization in all sectors due to the pandemic.
Angela Andrews, Solution Architect, Red Hat
"Community" has become such a buzzword in tech. Communities are popping up in organizations, big and small, to cater to the stakeholders that surround a product, service, or even an idea.
Some names for these roles that are becoming more prevalent in the industry are developer network manager, developer advocate, or developer relations (DevRel for short). Just do a quick search on a job site or on social media to get an idea of how many people are in those roles or actively seeking one.
These communities are building a technical bridge between the technical product users and the engineers of the product. This makes good business sense. The ability to manage those relationships and bring much-needed feedback and awareness to the internal technical (and even marketing) teams will be critical to the success of a business, both current and new.
[ For more on building bridges between a technology and its users, read What is a technical account manager (TAM)? ]
Community relations will be a huge push in 2022. As an architect, it will be our job to stay plugged into those communities. This allows us to see customers sharing feedback and remain aware of the content and events happening in those communities. We can use that information to better support them in the broader sense and understand how to develop solutions that fit their growing needs.
Jason Dudash, Chief Architect, Red Hat
One of the most consistent and unrelenting challenges in IT is dealing with cybersecurity threats. The threats are constantly evolving and becoming more sophisticated. Cybersecurity is a shared responsibility that architects need to consider. I'm hopeful when I see the emerging trends and technologies developing to address the challenge.
In 2022, I think we will see wider adoption of the philosophy to "shift security left" with automation in dev-test-delivery pipelines and architecture design decisions that remove implicit trust. The open source community will lead the way with innovations in this space.
Here are some top projects to watch in 2022:
- Sigstore, which focuses on securing the software supply chain
- Istio, a service mesh that has lots of capabilities, including microservice security
- Keylime, a Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) project focused on securing the root of trust for edge and cloud
Machine learning platforms and MLOps
The top technology companies have been using machine learning to solve artificial intelligence (AI) problems for quite some time now. You can see the ubiquitous potential of AI for innovation and optimization in the industry through massive growth in investments and the adoption of AI capabilities in 2021.
I think it's a safe bet to say that this growth will continue in 2022. I believe we will see more focus on capability improvements to simplify using managed services for machine learning on cloud platforms. I think we will also see the already overloaded landscape of ML tools grow even larger—a growing "glut" of innovation. It will be challenging for architects to sort through the buzz to curate their systems' components. However, even with this noise, I view this as a positive. We will see improvements in best practices, techniques, and better tools for MLOps.
Because the pandemic forced remote work, many teams ran into new problems they didn't have before and experienced a worsening of existing problems. As a former developer who longed to have this type of technology in my hands, I'm excited to see the recent progress on cloud-native development environments.
These IDEs have been niche tools but are now ready to shine and help bridge the gap for remote workers. You can see the success GitHub had in 2021 in moving their engineering team to a cloud-native IDE. In 2022, more teams will adopt cloud-native IDEs to improve the software development lifecycle (SDLC) and reduce the friction of remote collaboration. In my opinion, we will see wide adoption because of how simple it is to get started using managed services like CodeReady Workspaces and integrated experiences with source code repositories like GitHub.dev.
What are your predictions?
What trends do you see coming in 2022? If you're an enterprise architect or IT leader, please share your tech predictions for 2022 by signing up to contribute to Enable Architect, or email us at email@example.com.