Home IT management Trends and Predictions—2023 and Beyond — SolarWinds TechPod 072

Trends and Predictions—2023 and Beyond — SolarWinds TechPod 072

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Trends and Predictions—2023 and Beyond — SolarWinds TechPod 072

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Episode Transcript

Chris:

Hello, and welcome to another SolarWinds TechPod. Today, Sean and I are joined by our Head Geeks, Chrystal Taylor, Sascha Giese, as we discuss emerging tech trends for 2023. We’ll be speaking about Gartner’s predictions, global trends, and, of course, any trends we foresee at SolarWinds. Chrystal and Sascha, welcome. Thanks for joining us.

Chrystal:

It’s always great to be on TechPod.

Sascha:

Thanks for having us.

Chris:

Sean, welcome back.

Sean:

Hey, Chris, good to be here and good to see you, Chrystal and Sascha.

Chris:

So I thought we’d kick off and explore some of Gartner’s predictions. They have published their Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2023, and because I’m assuming our listeners don’t have the article handy, I will rattle off that list quickly. They are Digital Immune System, Applied Observability, AI Trust, Risk and Security Management, Industry Cloud Platforms, Platform Engineering, Wireless-Value Realization, Superapps, Adaptive AI, Metaverse, and Sustainable Technology. Now, I listed those off rather fast, but are there any in particular that stand out to either of you or any of you, any kind of grab your attention, sound really interesting?

Chrystal:

Yeah, I’d like to talk about the AI trust and risk and all of that that goes with it. I think that’s really interesting, lately has been kind of sweeping the world by storm is two in particular AI, which is the ChatGPT from OpenAI and also the kind of, it’s Lensa I think is the app for the AI art, and it’s very interesting because that one has hit basically the world. The ChatGPT is more focused in the tech world, and it brings up some questions, and it makes me wonder about how these things were handled in the past. I didn’t do research into thinking about it, but especially the art one, digital artists are kind of in a bit of an uproar because they see it as art theft.

I was just thinking before we started recording today about “I wonder if that is what physical medium artists thought about camera photography.” Like, “Is that theft of my art…” And did we go through all of this before? But either way, I think that we do need more regulation around AI. I mean, there’s so much possibilities, and that’s only continuing to be shown. I mean, look at what they’re doing with the ChatGPT, right? They can write basic code with that. That thing can write basic code, it can write scripted Word documents for you. It can do… I mean, there’s limitations, and obviously it’s limited to the data that you feed it, and I think that’s the important part of the conversation. AI is only as good as the data that it bases everything off of. So for the art piece, they’re feeding it well-known works of art, lesser well-known works of art, and it’s not been purchased from the person and use of it has not been purchased by the person, which is why it’s kind of taken that art world by storm.

I follow a lot of artists on Instagram, so I’ve been kind of visibly seeing kind of the uproar, and I like to support art, I have several pieces in here and all throughout my house of different pieces of art, and I do think it’s important to support artists because it’s like a humanity thing, right? So at what point does AI take over human tasks? Not just your basic manual, I mean, anything that you could do with a computer, sure, sure that makes sense. But now that digital art is a thing, that’s also going to be a digital thing. So I don’t know, it’s very interesting.

I think we do need more regulation. I think that there is risk associated with all of that as well. All of these people are not checking what Lensa is getting out of your phone or any of those things, and ChatGPT, what permissions does that need? It’s in OpenAI, it’s all of this stuff. So you start to think about what risk is that presenting and do you need to be worried about that? Are they using those things on your business phones, for instance, right? If I have an iPhone that my employer gave me and I’m using any of those AI platforms, is that a thing that I should be doing? These are questions that need to be asked and answered over the next year or so.

Chris:

Yeah, absolutely. I think that’s a really valid and important topic.

Chrystal:

Yeah. So basically, I think that we need more regulation. We need to assess risk and the trust that we’re giving employees and also our personal security is also really important to me. So making sure that you’re checking permissions, even when it’s on your personal phone. We don’t know what it’s getting all of this stuff from. Theoretically, it’s just taking all of this information from Google, that search engine was built and it has all of this information, and that’s a fun thing, too, is seeing people talking about it being a faster search than Google now. So that’s a whole different topic, the ChatGPT, that is.

Chris:

Yeah, I think this is a super interesting and valid conversation, and it’s interesting to hear AI kind of used for, well, I don’t want to say evil, but used without consent, perhaps, in some context. But, how, if we think about adaptive AI, to flip it on its head here, what are some ways that you think AI could be used for good?

Sascha:

Well, I think there’s lots of interesting use cases, and actually there’s one thing, as Chrystal, you mentioned you need or you would like to see more regulations. I think we see a lot of regulations around AI. It’s just that using AI for creativity is new and kind of unexpected. We see it here in the EU there’s actually attempts to ban AI in recruitment. So that is something that’s most likely going to happen because they don’t want a machine to decide who gets a job or not, and that is obviously a difficult decision because AI is very useful when it comes to filtering all those thousands of candidates, but the final say should have a human. So that’s I think we can all agree on that.

But absolutely, there’s perfectly fine use cases, and we do see those use cases now. It’s no longer just fancy marketing terms or stuff that, “Yeah, it might work one day.” No, we see actual use cases today, and we might use it in standard tools, which we use all day without even realizing that there are some, even if it’s a low level form of AI included. So there’s a lot of interesting stuff happening now, and first and foremost, it is far more affordable for companies than in the past.

Sean:

Something interesting about this is… You’re definitely right, Chrystal. I agree with you at least that regulations are necessary. But it makes me think about when I was doing papers in college or when I look at an art piece and they give credit to inspiration, right? Because when you’re thinking about the AI designing it, it’s just a different form of inspiration, it was inspired by something else’s photo. In those cases, it can be an honor to the original artist that it was an inspiration for this new piece of art, and I don’t think it has to be that far out from that same topic. It does somewhat dull the sense of awe that a machine created it versus a human, right? That always gets you a little bit more excited knowing that someone was able to do this. So I think when it comes to art, there’s just that human element, like you were saying, is a big piece of it.

But with regulations involved, I think that we’re still having an original piece of art inspire a new creation of art in almost the same way that a person would create it. Obviously, now it’s just technology doing it. I think the better it can be, the even cooler. I mean, there’s some pretty cool results and even funny stuff, to me, if you haven’t heard songs created by AI before, when you feed it other songs, it learns what are popular or looks at the rhythms of those and then creates a new output of songs, and sometimes the AI’s just not ready, and you get some really weird stuff. So I think that the inspiration or influence doesn’t have to be such a negative thing. I think that you’re right, regulations and appropriate credit being due, which is why I brought up the writing papers in college. You got to cite your work. So I think with that kind of thought process, it can be less of the evil and more of the inspirational and artistic piece of it.

Chrystal:

Yeah, for sure. I just think that, like you said, it happened so fast. I didn’t know about the music one, but I now am totally intrigued, and I want to go listen to some weird AI-generated song. But I think that the art bit is so new and it feels like it kind of shell shocked almost the art world. Like I said earlier, I wonder if that’s the same thing that happened when photography started becoming popular. Is it that they started to have the same problem, right? Where the artists with physical mediums, you have built this sculpture and it took you 10 years and now someone has a picture of it on their phone as their background or whatever. It’s not necessarily evil, but I think that when, like you said, AI is generating it, that takes the human factor out, and it is a little less inspiring.

I also think that the further we go taking away kind of the humanities, I suppose, from the humans, we stop appreciating them as much, and so I worry as a consumer of art and music and literature and all this, that one day I won’t be able to tell the difference and then that will not inspire any new next generation to go become artists, and I think we’ll lose something as humanity when that happens. Or maybe they’ll come up with something new to do. I don’t know. We’re quite adaptable, humans. But as far as good uses of tech, I mean we have the anomalous-based alerting, which is really interesting. That’s using AI and machine learning to check for anomalous situations in monitoring so that you can be aware something has happened, and not only has something happened, but it’s not normal that this happened.

That’s just kind of starting out, but I’m really excited about it, I’m really excited about where it’s going, taking that time out of your regular monitoring engineer’s day to have to sit there and connect all the dots and go check all the different pages. Now, you can have a place that says that “This was not normal, and maybe you should go check it out, and here are the related things that happened around that time.” I think that those types of innovations using AI and machine learning are very exciting because they save us all time, and I think we’d all, at the end of the day, like to save ourselves a little time.

Chris:

Absolutely, no doubt. I think that’s a pretty natural segue because we do leverage AIOps in our two new observability solutions, and Applied Observability was one of the kind of Gartner 2023 predictions. So for any listeners out there unfamiliar, we launched two observability solutions this year, Hybrid Cloud Observability and SolarWinds Observability. Sascha and Chrystal, if you’d like to speak to any of those and how AIOps plays into those solutions?

Sascha:

Well, there is AIOps in SolarWinds Observability, and it kind of goes one step above what Chrystal mentioned earlier with the alert stack. So, what we want to do is we would like to prevent unnecessary alerts. That is a huge problem, and actually it’s probably a customer feature request created eight years ago, whatever, long, long, long, long time ago, far too many alerts, and as it happens with us humans, when there’s too much information, we tend to ignore things. Meaning our solution sends so many alerts for no reason, we ignore them, and one day, the data center starts burning, and we keep on ignoring it. That actually happened in Paris last year. Anyway, so, removing all those unnecessary alerts was a task, and we use artificial intelligence for that in the form of AIOps in one of the tools.

Chrystal:

The anomalous-based alerting that I referenced and alert stack that Sascha just referenced are available in Hybrid Cloud Observability. So alerting is kind of the first step for us in the AI/ML kind of world because that’s a long-time complaint, as Sascha said, to minimize the unnecessary alerts. They don’t want to configure 400 alerts to get the right information. So that’s kind of the first step in that direction.

Chris:

I think it’s something that all of our customers would thank us for, finding ways that they can filter through that noise of alerts and really focus on the items that are the most impactful for them.

Sean:

It’s nice to lean on the technology to not just… Of course it is programmed, but not just respond to something that I programmed it to respond to but to do a little bit more cognitive thinking and provide me a suggestion based off of what it is, and of course here’s the word, observing. It’s still going to be transactional, we’re almost symbiotic, we fuel the AI, the AI fuels us, so I’m telling it what I want, and it’s telling me what I want it to tell me, and I think it’s a good relationship, and I’m excited to continue to see this grow, as it learns we learn. So this is a very, very exciting time.

Chrystal:

Yeah, and it’s not even the first foray into this kind of area, right? We’ve had forecasting for CPU and memory and those kinds of things for a while, where we can say you’re going to run out of CPU on this server at this time. We’ve also had virtualization recommendations so you can look at your orphan VMs and it’ll tell you to move them or remove them or those kinds of things. So we kind of started on this journey a while back. It’s just kind of really taking off now, and I’m really excited about where it’s going.

Chris:

So another interesting topic that certainly caught my eye, and I know it did a few others when we were kind of chatting beforehand, is sustainable technology. Sascha, do you have any thoughts on how we can go about being mindful about the technology we use as an organization and how to improve processes and practices to bear sustainability in mind in future?

Sascha:

That’s a very interesting topic and quite a hot one, I guess. I mean, everyone knows that the climate needs a little bit of help, just a tiny bit, okay? I mean, there’s multiple, multiple ways where even the use of technology in an organization could help, and it does come with a few other side effects, like energy cost is through the roof here in Europe at least, so organizations look for any way to lower their cost. Let’s keep it easy, let’s talk about getting new hardware, so whenever the cycle is up to acquire new network gear or servers, whatever, previously, for most organizations, efficiency was a nice to have. The highly efficient gear was only really important for high-density environments like a data center, whatever, right? Thousand servers, you save a little bit of energy, it’s big money. But now, this is a little bit different. It’s not a nice to have, it’s a major factor for getting new gear in, if you can save energy, lowering costs, and yes, you do something good for the environment.

The problem is that efficient hardware is usually a little bit more expensive because it’s using the latest technology, and hey, it’s difficult to get these things. You ever try getting a new Catalyst switch these days? You wait six to nine months. But the advantage is even if it is a little bit more expensive, you save in the long run, you keep the gear for a couple of years, it pays back in saving energy. But there’s far more. Even if you don’t intend to get new gear, it’s a good idea to use, well, to use an observability solution to check how much energy is currently consumed and where is potential to improve it. You can’t improve what you can’t see, that is a pretty basic statement.

I’m bringing out so many topics here, we can go into details. Recruitment is another one. We always say there’s a talent shortage and it’s difficult to attract or keep talent, and that is a big problem for the public sector because the public sector can in no way compete with the private sector when it comes to salary. But when they come up with statements, “Hey, we do something for the environment, we do something for our regional community.” That is a big plus for recruitment, too, which many organizations begin to see now, and I’m pretty sure we will see more of that in the next year. What is the next year? ’23, right? Yes, ’23. That’s the next year.

Chris:

There’s another topic on kind of sustainable technology that I know you had brought up before, Sascha, and I’d love to explore that a little bit more. Talking about green code. So, bearing in mind, having the mindset to create efficient code that doesn’t use too many CPU cycles. Is there anything you can expand on that? It’s a new concept to me, I hadn’t heard it before you had mentioned it.

Sascha:

Okay.

Chris:

So I’d love to explore that.

Sascha:

Well, I’m not a professional coder. I’m pretty sure there are people who can explain this better than I am, but there’s a difference between, let’s call it, lazy code and efficient code. So we could probably reach whatever goal we want to do with our code in any way, with thousands of lines and using functions which are like 15 years old, whatever. So we get to the goal, but running that code in production will consume, as you mentioned, CPU or other resources, loads of resources. Now, we could probably create a more lean version of that code which runs with less resources. Coding it that way might be a little bit more complicated, it might use new functions which just have been invented a couple of years ago with latest upgrades and frameworks, whatever. But there are ways to code more green, and that is definitely something that is taken into consideration by many software vendors. We might be one of those, but…

Chrystal:

I think too, this brings up an interesting point because you’re talking about writing new code, and I think one of the things that we generally fail at as an industry is re-evaluating and updating old code until it needs to be fully replaced. Oftentimes, it’s not something that you go back and evaluate to see if it can be more efficient or anything really, right? Until it becomes a problem. That’s not a thing you look at, right? I mean, how many times over the years have I seen somebody with a report and they’re like, “Oh this report, it takes 10 minutes to run.” And you’re like, “Probably that code that you use to write that in T-SQL or whatever could be more efficient than what it is because it’s taking that long and it’s probably not supposed to take that long.” So you’re introducing, and when you have databases involved, you introduce lock weights and other things that can cause additional problems for your setup.

So I’m talking about like an Orion- or a Hybrid Cloud Observability-type environment where you have a monitoring system and you’re doing reporting there because that’s where my experience lies. But I think that the same thing is true pretty much everywhere. How often are you given the time to go re-evaluate existing functions and existing code that you’ve built or anything else to see that it’s operating at efficiency? Is there a way that we can make this better? Even something as simple as changing some settings in an application can make a huge difference to how it runs on that server, and maybe you could get some of those resources back. I think it’s worth doing an evaluation if you want to remain sustainable, doing a regular evaluation to make sure things are running as optimized and efficiently as possible.

Maybe once a week, a year, go check on stuff and see if it’s still doing all right, is it still operating under expected parameters, is it taking longer now? Whatever the case may be, you should do some evaluations, and then maybe that will empower more green coding in the future as well because they’ll get used to re-evaluating and making their existing code more efficient, so they’ll start doing it more from the beginning. That would be my hope.

Sean:

I love hearing that so much. Some of the stuff I always talk about is continual improvement, and a lot of times, especially when we’re talking about technology and products like this, you’re right, new is the focus. New doesn’t always have to be the focus. If you have a great product, keep it great, it’s already great, so let’s just enhance the greatness. We don’t always necessarily need something new to make it more attractive. If it was already attractive, excuse me, then just continue to improve on what made it so strong in the first place. This kind of technology, you’re talking about reviewing code, meaning that you also have the ability to push code out to that existing product, this is a big thing for me when it comes to sustainable technology.

Things like thin clients, SaaS products, things that can help eliminate the need for physical equipment to constantly be refreshed and updated, with things like thin clients now, you can upgrade the technology they’re using without touching what they’re touching. They’re using their hardware as a medium to access the technology. So there’s less need to actually upgrade the physical world of technology nowadays, and I know this, kind of to something that Sascha had mentioned earlier, this is much harder in the public sector because a lot of times there’s physical on-premises requirements, so we can’t do as much remote access or cloud access, but this world is becoming much more secure, the cloud realm.

So I’m seeing this open up a lot more, and I’m super excited for this because, again, I’m a fan personally of being able to keep my same phone for as long as I can until I’ve dropped it enough times it doesn’t work, right? Because for the most part, I can update it so that it’s got more capable technologies, it’s more secure, and I don’t actually have to change the physical piece of it. I’m also a creature of habit, so I like being able to have my hands on the same phone for a certain amount of time because I get used to it and then it becomes my friend and I don’t want to let it go. But that’s just the sentimental human element of me with that.

But I think this is super fun and we even talked about it a touch in our last TechPod episode with Kristen, for example, USB-C cables, trying to make more universal plugs so we don’t have to, as an organization, have an excessive number of different types of cables just to make sure with this technology, this one works, with that technology, this one doesn’t work, right? Doesn’t scale very well. So, super excited about a lot of this stuff, and I think cloud and subscription-based software like this is going to have a huge impact on that sustainability.

Chrystal:

So, Sean, you touched on an interesting point there, which was that public sector isn’t able to keep up with the upgrades and stuff, they have a lot more red tape, they have a lot less budget, a lot of that stuff, and I think that that’s where sustainable technology should be being looked at more, right? Because you can definitely say that this will last 10 years versus the two years that that Catalyst switch I was going to get is going to get, or whatever. It can last longer, and not only that, I mean that’s a place where you should be re-evaluating, as I mentioned before, re-evaluating your existing things to see if there’s a way to optimize it and improve it when you can’t get the budget, when you can’t get the approval to do those improvements, and then additionally, you can say, “Hey, maybe this is saving us X amount of dollars in energy costs. Maybe this is saving us X amount of labor costs if it’s code that’s working more efficiently,” or whatever.

There’s definitely things that you can translate that to the business need so you can get buy-in when you need to make those updates, but it is a lot more difficult in public sector to get the buy-in. So you should be able to alter the conversation to where it’s not necessarily all about spend but more about sustainability and making everything last longer so your budget can go farther.

Sean:

Now, I love that, and I can relate to it so much. I’m in software sales, so that’s something I deal with constantly, and I think it’s up to us, not just on the sales teams but as kind of spokespersons for technology like this, to be the evangelist and help spread that story and try and get that out there because a lot of things that the public sector does are, well, they’re public services, so I would like to see those public services be more empowered, more technology-capable, instead of they’re the ones that are behind when they’re the ones providing those public services to the citizens of their government, their organization, their country, et cetera.

Chris:

So I’m pretty pleased. We’ve listed off a few of Gartner’s predictions that resonate with us and that we think we also agree with that are emerging trends for 2023. But I’m curious to know what you, Chrystal and Sascha, what you think the process is for defining predictions. We couldn’t possibly guess how Gartner came to their list of 10, but is there a process? How do we get in the mindset of tech trends and predictions for a new year?

Sascha:

Well, I think we see a need and we identify the need when talking to customers, to users of technology, or to stick with the public sector, the user will be the citizens. So what do we need as citizens? We identify a need, and then we look what could be a possible solution for that, what could fix it? And that would make a great prediction. That would be one way to process this. But I think Chrystal has a much more interesting theory on that topic.

Chrystal:

Well, Sascha and I also have come up with our own predictions every year for SolarWinds for what is going to be an emerging technology trend for 2023. I think what my process is generally a combination of things that I’m hearing and seeing in the world, right? Like it’s starting to pick up either from different articles out there, talking to customers, going to big trade shows, and talking to people just in general and observing what are the sessions people are attending, that kind of stuff. Like what’s really interesting people right now, and social media plays a part in that as well, right? Because like the ChatGPT thing, that is taking social media by storm, so you know can see those things start to take off.

But for me personally, what I really like to do is sort of go with what I hope to see in the next year and less what I necessarily think is going to happen. If anything, I hope to put the thought out there so that we can start to think about these things more and we can start to improve upon ourselves, and so my predictions are not always like “this is based on hard data,” but it’s a combination of those things plus what I would hope to see in the world, and I hope that people take cybersecurity more seriously, and I hope that people take their personal security more seriously. So I tend to lean a little bit more into the nice things that I want to happen in the world that we will improve as a general industry and as a world society, and I color that with data that I’ve heard and talk to people throughout the year, we would like to see improvements, right?

There’s been a huge number of cybersecurity breaches over the last several years, and they’re all very high profile, and even the general citizenry knows about them now, which, I mean, five years ago that wasn’t the case, they didn’t know anything, and now even they’re aware of things. So I think that that in itself is an edging towards the trend, it’s adding to that trend that we are taking it, we are having to take it more seriously, we’re realizing that things like convenience are less important than security. So I think that that’s really interesting and that’s how I color my own predictions. I can’t speak to how Gartner does anything. I have to assume it’s based off of some sort of data, but I haven’t talked to them, and I don’t know what they do.

Chris:

That’s very fair, and since I know that you’ve kind of revealed a couple of your tech predictions for 2023, are you able to share any others? This is the SolarWinds TechPod after all, so any kind of emerging trends or predictions you see for 2023?

Chrystal:

Yeah, my main prediction is around dealing with tool sprawl. So it goes right back to that sustainability and doing assessments. So I think that one of the things that happened when the pandemic started and hasn’t been cleaned up still is we all had to make a massive instantaneous shift, and we didn’t get the time to vet and go through all our normal processes, and maybe we had a two- or three-year digital transformation plan that we then had to enact in two weeks. So I think a lot of that technology is kind of sporadic.

People got the tools that worked at the time, and now maybe they’re going to sit down and evaluate, “Is this the right tool for us? Is it doing the right things for us? Is it optimized? Is it efficient? Are we getting what we need out of these things?” That’s what I think is going to be more of a trend in the coming year. And then, like I said, the other main one that I’ve talked about recently is about cybersecurity, and I like to think that people take it more seriously, people in general are more aware that it is a problem. So hopefully, we’ll see improvements in that way as well.

Sean:

I am not a Head Geek, but I have some things that I want to “predict.” I think this just kind of ties into a lot of the trends in general, and it may not even just be a 2023 trend, I think that it’s going to be an ongoing trend. But some of the stuff that ties together is superapps, sustainability, platform engineering, and I think, especially from a SolarWinds perspective, I’d like to see more of that platform focus. Making that superapp is more sustainable, and this ties back everything we’ve been talking about today, pretty much. I’d like to, as an organization, as a customer, as a consumer, have one vendor, one platform, and I can à la carte, I can add, remove, my contract is much easier to manage, and the access to the technology is a more unified experience so that I’m not going to three, five, seven different pieces of technology. Like you were saying, tool sprawl, Chrystal.

I want one technology that can do many things, and so I think that the superapps, throwing AI in there, that becomes sustainable technology. The platform experience can continue to allow me to re-evaluate the code so we can enhance, like you were saying, continue to improve that without having to always constantly add new features.

Chrystal:

Yeah, I just want to circle back to what you said, maybe not over the next year, even the Gartner report is not intended to predict only 2023. If you look at their trends, it goes like they have stuff for 2023, and of the list that you listed out in the very beginning of TechPod, some of those are like they expect in one to two years or two to three years or three to five years. The tech predictions, I think, are not always intended to say, “This will happen in 2023, and it will not happen after that.” I think that it’s way more flexible than that, and so I like to think that it is part hope, what we hope will be taken a bit more seriously, and maybe just start down the road, the trend will be going in that direction rather than it’s “We’re going to get all the way there.” So people should just generally keep that in mind.

Sean:

Yeah, 2023 means this is when we’re releasing these trend predictions, but they could be for one or many, many years. If we have time, Chris, I know we mentioned it in the list of trend predictions, I think this would be super fun, the Metaverse. I am super curious to hear what you have to say about the Metaverse, Chrystal and/or Sascha.

Sascha:

Not much good stuff, I’m afraid. I mean, it’s a nice concept, and it’s kind of an interesting alternate reality. It promises to be a new place for us to meet, to communicate, maybe even to do some work. But why does it exist? It exists so companies give us a locked down ecosystem where we spend time and, more importantl,y spend a lot of money. So they want us to go there, want us to stay there and buy things. Doesn’t matter if it’s company A, B, or C, I mean there’s just five big names in that pool right now. So they want us to spend money over there. So this is an interesting concept, and it’s not super new. Even the word meta is like 150 years old, or maybe even older. So it fails in so many corners. You hear that, “Hey, we do a party over there.” No one comes. “We do a press release over there.” No one is there. You know what? I’ll stop it. It’s not my favorite topic, let’s say it that way.

Chrystal:

I agree completely. I don’t have much nice things to say. I do think, though, that it is an interesting concept, and it’s interesting how much money is being invested in that for how little they have to show. I think that is the most interesting thing about it. I kind of have a theory that maybe they watched Ready Player One and they thought, “The OASIS, that’s a great place, we should make that real.” I don’t know that we’re ready for that as a society. So I think that it’s one of those things, like sometimes technology comes out and it’s ahead of its time. I think the concept is ahead of its time, I think the technology is not there yet, and it’s not even close.

Sean:

I totally hear where you guys are coming from, and when I look at Metaverse, I think of it less as a single world, a single place, and this is going to get super theoretical, so bear with me, hold onto your chairs. But I think the Metaverse exists already in many ways because the universe is all of our own individual perceptions of what we’re experiencing. So the fact that you and I are having a discussion, and it might be, for our listeners, purely audio, that is taking them to their own version of a Metaverse, since we have regular team meeting calls, virtual happy hours, those are in a sense their own Metaverse. Something that we talked about prior was, for example, Peloton, and other similar products like that.

When you’re experiencing a physical bike ride that’s taking you to a virtual destination, and the more you can enhance that virtual experience, you’re in a Metaverse, riding a bicycle, in whatever place across the planet you want. I also heard a pretty cool story, someone’s parent or grandmother, a relative who had not been to Europe in a long time. I think it was Paris, maybe somewhere in France, I think. Put on the Oculus Rift and was able to walk the streets there, and create that experience. So I think in a lot of ways, the Metaverse exists. It doesn’t have to be a single product, platform, company releasing it. I think it’s just a different concept of changing your perception and experience using technology. So just my thoughts. I’m also an optimist. I’ll talk about this stuff, too, but I’m excited for what it can do, and man, if OASIS was real, Chrystal, that would be some stuff, that would be really cool.

Chrystal:

It’s certainly an interesting way of looking at things.

Sean:

Well, that’s me. I’m interesting. Okay, I’ll take it.

Chrystal:

You are interesting. All right, where next?

Chris:

So we heard from Chrystal. Sascha, what are some of your tech predictions for 2023 and beyond?

Sascha:

So I made an interesting observation. This year, I traveled a lot, and what I heard a lot, I mentioned this kind of as a joke. As I said, it takes a long time when you order a Cisco Catalyst now till it arrives. This is a global thing and it’s a huge problem for many organizations because they can’t get gear which they ordered, and they need it. So what I heard frequently, all over the globe, they started ordering, well, let’s call them B brands. So not the real big players, no Cisco, no Juniper, but maybe a MicroTech or whatever. They ordered gear from those brands because it was available. Some planned like, “Okay, this is an interim solution. Whenever my Catalyst arrives, I will swap it.” But I also heard a few times, “This stuff does the job on the very same level, and it costs 10% of what I would pay with the bigger brands.”

Those A brands are out, they’re no longer purchasing them. That was a very interesting statement. Obviously, time will tell if that’s true. Because enterprises don’t have long-term experience with those smaller brands there. There’s good reasons why they stick to the bigger ones, right? Support and the stuff lasts, and yada yada. But we will see what’s going to happen, and this is a chance for those smaller brands to get a feet in the door of big enterprise, big corporations where they usually were only used for SMB sector. That is quite an interesting one.

Chris:

Thank you. Thanks for sharing. Is there anything you’re hoping to see less of in 2023 in terms of tech predictions?

Sascha:

The Metaverse, maybe.

Chris:

Fair enough.

Chrystal:

I look forward to seeing less marketing words that don’t make any sense for technology.

Sean:

Well, that would be automagical.

Chrystal:

Yeah, it won’t happen, but I’d like it.

Sascha:

Yes. It’s kind of like a smart automation. Yeah.

Chris:

That reminds me of our conversation around superapps. We were like, “How do you define superapps? What are superapps?”

Chrystal:

Or the other one was the Digital Immune System. Okay? All right?

Chris:

Oh, yes.

Chrystal:

Sure. I don’t… Sure.

Chris:

Well, before we let you both go, we have a segment called Rapid-Fire Questions, and you’re not meant to have looked at them in advance. Sascha, we’ve done this with Chrystal before, but we have a couple that we hope you don’t mind us asking you. So I’m going to kick off with the first one for you, Sascha. Would you rather travel to the past or the future?

Sascha:

Ooh, can I choose location and what kind of past it is? I don’t know.

Chris:

Please. Yes, you can be as specific as you like.

Sascha:

Okay. Probably the past because then you can pick what you would like to experience, where and when, and there’s not the huge uncertainty as of what happens next year or at five years. Yes, I would be curious as of what happens in five years, but hey, does the world still exist in five years? No one knows, right? So the past might be the safe bet, I guess.

Sean:

Okay, I have another one, and I hope I can phrase this in such a way that everyone understands what I’m trying to present, and since Sascha just answered, we’ll go to Chrystal first, but I want to hear both of your thoughts. If it was an option, would you live in a city in space?

Chrystal:

No.

Sean:

No. Okay, why?

Chrystal:

Kid. My kid and his whole life and family is here. Not that he wouldn’t think living in a city in space was cool because he’s fixing to be 13, so I’m sure that would be really cool. But I don’t think I’m prepared to take that kind of a risk at this stage of my life. Maybe before he was born, I’d have been like, “Yeah, let’s go.” But now, I don’t think so.

Sean:

Okay, so some maternal instincts kicked in. Yeah, too much risk. Too much risk. I can understand and respect that. Okay, well, Sascha, how about you? Would you go live in a civilization, a city in space?

Sascha:

Well, as long as there’s gravity, Italian food, and Amazon delivery. Yes, absolutely I would do.

Chrystal:

And wine.

Sean:

Okay. Well, there’s a good chance, yeah, there’s a good chance Amazon is helping run the scene. So…

Sascha:

Yes.

Chris:

You’ve described a utopia, Sascha, that sounds kind of ideal.

Sascha:

At least mine. Yeah.

Chris:

So I had another rapid-fire question. If you were to pinpoint one tech innovation that you are really glad exists, what would that be? And that’s to either of you.

Sascha:

I would still think it’s mobile internet. Any form of mobile internet. I remember being on the motorway and there’s the name of a city and I was like, “I heard that name, but it doesn’t really… I don’t remember why, in what context?” That was before the mobile phone. If that happens now, I’m just like, “Google, Google, Google. Ah, yes, yes, yes. Okay.” So many minor conveniences, and that is one of the big win for me.

Chrystal:

Well, as a big gamer, I’m going to have to go with the personal PC. I mean, I play a lot of games that don’t require the internet, so I could probably be okay without that for gaming, but I would still want to play the games.

Sean:

I’ll echo that. That’s nice. Yeah, I don’t know what I would do without my games. Okay. Sascha, since we got to ask this one of Chrystal previously. When are you most productive, Sascha? Time of day, time of week, when would you say you are most productive?

Sascha:

After breakfast. Somewhere between breakfast and lunch, I guess. Not hungry, already awake, but not yet tired.

Sean:

So not yet awake. A state of autopilot, you are most efficient?

Sascha:

Oh, oh, sorry. Not, not, not-

Sean:

No, I see.

Sascha:

No longer sleeping. So in that state that you are awake but not yet tired, which happens in the afternoon, I guess.

Chrystal:

Yeah, you haven’t hit that after-lunch snooziness.

Sean:

The itis, just the swelling, “I’ve eaten too much and now I need to nap to kind of bask under a heat lamp or something so that I can get back to normal.”

Chris:

That’s a visual. That is a visual.

Sascha:

We used to call this the McDonald debuff.

Chris:

Well that about wraps up our 2023 tech trends and tech predictions episode. Thanks, everyone, for tuning in and listening to us throughout the year. We really look forward to bringing you more TechPod content.

Sean:

Well, special thanks to Chrystal Taylor and Sascha Giese for joining Chris and I today. Thank you, guys.

Sascha:

You’re welcome. Really nice.

Chrystal:

Thank you for having us. It was a wonderful conversation.

Sean:

Thank you to our listeners for joining us on SolarWinds TechPod. I’m your host, Sean Sebring, joined, of course, by my co-host Chris Bowie. If you haven’t yet, make sure to subscribe and follow for more TechPod content, and thanks for tuning in.

 

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