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What comes next for enterprise tech in 2022

Protocol Enterprise

Hello and welcome back to Protocol | Enterprise. We hope you had a restful break over the holidays. Today: the trends that will shape enterprise tech this year, why it might be time for an AI audit and the important — yet complicated — discussion about the best way to secure open-source software.

Time to get real

After a period of great disruption and rapid modernization, 2022 will be a year during which enterprise companies take a breath and a closer look at the software and cloud services they snapped up like holiday season COVID-19 tests over the last two years. The products and trends that survive that scrutiny will set the priorities for the rest of the decade.

Predictions are notoriously scattershot (here’s last year’s Protocol | Enterprise predictions newsletter — you be the judge). Still, there are some assumptions it seems safe to make after one of the greatest spending sprees in modern enterprise tech history.

Buyers will be looking for results in 2022, and at this point they’ll have enough data to start reaching some conclusions. This exercise will hardly dent the fortunes of major enterprise tech vendors; the cloud isn’t going anywhere, application management is as pressing a problem as ever and sophisticated data analytics tools are starting to sort winners and losers across industries. But it’s long past time for the focus to shift to operating securely, efficiently and reliably on the infrastructure of the 21st century.

  • Security concerns — especially the existential threat of ransomware — dominated 2021, yet security is still too complicated, especially in the era of software supply chains. This is a multidimensional problem that will require action from vendors, governments and end users to address, and the stakes will only grow over time.
  • AWS reminded everyone in December that outages are a fact of life on cloud services. End users need tools that help them design more resilient systems, and cloud providers need to make it less expensive to operate across multiple regions and availability zones.
  • Two years of unlimited purchase orders for cloud services are about to end. In 2022, companies will be looking for ways to identify wasteful spending and manage spiraling costs, and efficiency will be front of mind.

There will likely be more interest in consolidation, too — both in terms of mergers and acquisitions, and when it comes to enterprise software buying priorities.

  • Regulators have mostly left enterprise tech megavendors to their own devices over the last few years, but that could start to change in 2022: Expect at least one major enterprise tech merger proposal to be heavily reviewed — if not outright challenged — this year.
  • At the same time, buyers weary from managing dozens of vendors will continue to strike a new balance between letting departments buy their own software and limiting the number of applications used across their companies.
  • Those trends could be great for smaller enterprise tech startups; big vendors will always need the new ideas provided by startups to upsell existing customers, venture capitalists will always need returns and smaller deals could be easier to push through.

And now for some wild-card predictions, which no list like this would be complete without.

  • Marc Benioff will execute Salesforce’s leadership transition strategy and hand the reins over to co-CEO Bret Taylor.
  • Intel’s server-processor market share will dip to historic lows thanks to interest in AMD and Arm chips.
  • There will be drama in the open-source community. (Tongue planted firmly in cheek.)

One safe prediction? Big things are in store for Protocol | Enterprise in 2022. Stick around; let’s see how it all turns out.

— Tom Krazit (email | twitter)


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This week on Protocol

AI audits: As local and national governments around the world start to require new levels of transparency into machine-learning algorithms, users and developers of AI tech will need help to ensure they’re on the right side of the law. Kate Kaye took a look at the booming prospects for AI auditing companies and how they are trying to convince potential customers that responsible AI can be profitable too.

Moar chips? While chip shortages during the holiday shopping season were not as dire as experts predicted earlier this year, it’s still a real problem: Even the companies making desperately needed chip-making equipment can’t get enough chips to make their chip-making equipment. Max Cherney talked to several industry insiders about their expectations for the ongoing crisis in 2022, which is shaping up to be another difficult year.

Upcoming at Protocol

Our newest vertical — Protocol | Entertainment — launches tomorrow, Jan. 4, covering the intersection of gaming, Hollywood and virtual reality. Janko Roettgers and Nick Statt will deliver a new newsletter three times a week covering this fun and important sector of tech, and you can sign up for it here.

Around the enterprise

Microsoft kicked off the new year with a serious “Year 2022” bug in the on-premises version of its Exchange email software, which required an emergency fix released Sunday right before the end of the holiday week.

Google and Microsoft are increasingly investing in companies in order to secure their cloud business, according to The Wall Street Journal.

What’s happening at the Cloud Foundry Foundation? It’s flown a little under the radar since VMware completed its acquisition of Pivotal two years ago, but TechCrunch interviewed VMware’s Craig McLuckie, the current chairman of its board of directors, about the project’s role going forward.

The Biden administration wants to discuss security and software development with the CEOs of several unnamed enterprise tech companies, according to CNN.

Tailscale CEO Avery Pennarun weighed in on the important discussion about security, foundations and the responsibilities that users of open-source software have to the community in a thoughtful blog post alluding to the Log4j disaster.

Thanks for reading — see you Thursday!

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