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How does 2022 look like for the Intelligent Information Industry?

intelligent information management

2021, the year of the Ox, comes to an end. Enter the Tiger and the era of the metaverse. A time in which our physical presence becomes a shadow of our true digital identity if we are to believe Mark Zuckerberg.  (We do love react.js and, Mark). 

Working from anywhere (WFA) in 2021 has been a cultural and value shift, much more than a technological one. We can only admire the inventors of the internet to handle 2022 workloads with TCP/IP, introduced in January 1983 in ARPAnet. Although post-covid-crisis flexibility improves our quality of life, we should be cautious not losing the personal touch in future sales, collaboration and innovation processes. In the short term, WFA  brings us comfort, but in the long term, it weakens the bonds between buyers, colleagues, producers and users. Presence and proximity are a competitive advantage and a warm human quality, too often taken for granted. 

In the Intelligent Information Management (IIM) industry, software continues to transform into service. More than the economies of scale on AWS or Azure, the return to `service` is the pivotal change. By the way, mind the budget gap when launching into the cloud – it is not cheap! Service means putting the customer experience again at the center of our attention. The cloud changes how value is built, delivered, and consumed by closing the gap between providers and users. It creates zero training near-instant customer experience. This requires integrators and IT departments to reposition themselves in the value chain. 

Enterprise Content Management (ECM) has been declared dead by AIIM for some years, and we believe that has more to do with our acceptance that content cannot be captured in one repository. Intelligent Information Management (IIM) must accept that content will travel freely. Future solutions are federated. However, IIM is still to find a few killer cases. We see anomaly detection and privacy protection luring on the 2022 horizon. In all cases, AI will inject intelligence into IIM. 

The acquisition of Alfresco and Nuxeo by Hyland marks the end of an era: open-source economics on-premise have reached their saturation point. Xenit welcomes Alfresco 7 with much-needed scalability features and increasing integration with the Microsoft 365 eco-system, including MS Teams; it extends the life cycle of on-premise ECM in archiving use cases. However, the market is moving towards collaboration in Microsoft 365 and teams, combined with headless, cloud-native, and API-first archives to support long-term retention and governance.

By the way, if you are interested in discovering the new Alfresco collaboration connector for Microsoft 365 and Teams, you are more than welcome to attend our webinar “Driving full-scale productivity and collaboration with the Alfresco connector for Microsoft 365 & Teams“.

Open Source Contributor Index) GitHub

Figure 1: The OSCI (Open Source Contributor Index) for Github activity up to November 2021

Amid this tectonic shift, open-source redefines itself: it is the decisive factor in the rapid evolution of cloud technology. GitHub Open source activity in 2021 has been driven by the dominant players Microsoft, Google, RedHat/IBM, Intel, and Amazon.  I believe the center of gravity of Open source is shifting to infrastructure code, showing just how agile and flexible the eco-system is. We can’t predict where it will move in 5 years, but it will be where it matters most.  

The battle between AWS and elastic search, leading to a fork of Elastic in 2021, fuels the debate. What is Open Source about? My two cents: creating all the necessary conditions for a piece of software to serve as many users as possible according to their expectations. And that is why open software source code matters less, but service does. Opening the source of software maximizes the chances that software will be reused to produce resilient intelligent information systems as-a-service in the most sustainable and economic way.  Beyond the open-source approach, AWS and Elastic of course need to find ways to split the cake fairly. This conflict can only be settled by measuring the value that each agent (cloud, software provider) adds to the customer. A challenge for 2022. 

We have brilliant examples of how things can be done better in 2021. Just install a Postgres database, version 14 (!) was released in 2021, and enjoy. Do so on open-source Linux, and deploy with open source containers. Run your service with wonderful tools from the cloud-native computing foundation, part of the non-profit Linux Foundation. Orchestrate your containers with Kubernetes and avoid cloud lock-in. Open source is your life insurance. 

Content management is becoming a commodity, and we shall see further commoditization of its business and pricing model, alongside economies of scale delivered from the cloud. Elasticity functions as a service, and storage at scale, including a comeback of tiered storage, will reduce the ecological footprint of large-scale content stores.

Xenit was the first integrator for Caringo (nowadays DataCore) swarm in the EU. Years before S3 became the de facto object storage protocol, swarm’s object storage technology has been a cornerstone in our customers’ digital archiving strategy. Swarm has always advocated disk-based storage, avoiding the complexity of multi-tier. That position still stands on-premise: storage costs on-premise have decreased, probably stronger than the ever-cheaper storage in the public cloud. Today an 8 Tb disk costs the same as a 2 Tb disk 5 years ago. 

To our surprise, we did not see much demand in enterprise search in 2021, while the momentum around machine learning continued to accrue.  Technically, new developments, like yahoo`s Vespa, deserve our close attention. Vector search was the talk of the town. Citing InfoWorld: Vector similarity search uses machine learning to translate the similarity of text, images, or audio into a vector space, making the search faster, more accurate, and more scalable

Solr,  version 9 in the making, Lucidworks Fusion and Elastic search, venturing into enterprise search, picked up this exciting new breakthrough. With more and more information repositories sailing into the cloud, the task to retrieve relevant information will become more tedious. In the long run, I expect search to become a central capability, not a per-app technology, incorporating machine learning, sitting at the very center of our professional and personal life. What google did at scale for the public internet, will happen in the corporate context, sooner or later.  Leading cloud providers are certainly positioning themselves properly in their ‘information grid’. 

Looking forward to 2022, one would welcome new open-source innovations in intelligent information management, going beyond meta-data, scaling cognitively and physically, and automating content-centric processes with proven AI. Gaia-x could be fertile ground in the EU for such developments. Cloud Orchestration will offer a resilient foundation.

We wish you cognitive.clarity@zero.latency for 2022. And for many years to come.  

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