Skip to main content

Biggest Risks for Software Buyers in 2016

By January 4, 2016Article

Editor’s note: In our series of articles discussing predictions for 2016, we interviewed several software executives for their opinions and advice regarding what they believe will be the biggest risk for software buyers in the coming year. 

Sujatha Kashyap, VP of technology, Robin Systems: “The Law of Accelerating Returns. Whereas Moore’s law was the gospel for hardware vendors, Ray Kurzweil’s Law of Accelerating Returns is turning out to be the gospel for the software industry. Simply put, the rate at which technology changes is exponential, and it is making us feel like we are in a time warp. This means software buyers are increasingly at risk of being trapped in outmoded software technologies if they don’t pay very careful attention to a long-term strategy that prevents technology lock-in. 

For instance, while Hadoop has yet to take root in the mainstream enterprise, a successor has already ostensibly been appointed and crowned – Spark. Where companies are still scrambling to transition their way out of the expensive relational model to a NoSQL world, technology has already moved on to approximate query engines like BlinkDB. 

In a world where technology is often a critical component of a company’s competitiveness, the fear of missing out on the latest technological advances is the biggest cause of anxiety among software buyers, often trapping them in analysis paralysis.” 

Suresh ChandrasekaranSuresh Chandrasekaran, senior vice president, Denodo: Vendor lock-in and resultant high costs and lack of agility are the biggest risk. The rate of innovation and change in software strategies is accelerating. Cloud adoption, self-service analytics, big data and other specialized data stores, and open-source tools are eclipsing the more traditional stacks. In fact, while high costs of vendor lock-in are problematic, the much bigger, but less quantifiable risk, is missed business opportunities due to lack of agility. 

So even those companies that have a predominant vendor should take care to implement an abstraction or virtualization layer between data sources, middle-tier applications or BI tools so users can easily migrate with agility.” 

Walter O'BrienWalter O’Brien, founder and CEO, Scorpion Computer Services: “Software buyers face increasingly sophisticated cybersecurity threats from new ransomware, malware and nearly undetectable spyware. Companies need to be vigilant in monitoring I/O requests and Windows API calls, create a model of activity and train a classifier to detect unusual API call sequences.” 

Avinash LakshmanAvinash Lakshman, CEO and founder, Hedvig: “The software market is quickly changing. There are brand new technologies and tools that approach old problems from brand new angles. Naturally, new software, especially in traditional industries, makes some buyers nervous. The biggest risk for software buyers in 2016 will be the belief that new enterprise technologies are completely plug-and-play. Although most new software will run on nonproprietary, commodity hardware, buyers will still carefully size and select the hardware that properly powers that software. Storage, database and big data technologies are examples of software innovations that have recently gone through some radical changes and require an ongoing partnership between vendor and buyer.” 

Chris Lochhead Al Ramadan Dave PetersonAl Ramadan, Chris Lochhead and Dave Peterson, co-founders and partners, Play Bigger Advisors: “Buying from tech startups that are “unicorns” that do not have the number-one position in their market category.” 

Darren CunninghamDarren Cunningham, vice president of marketing, SnapLogic: Complacency – thinking that you can continue to just work with the same handful of legacy software vendors that you’ve known for 10-20 years and hoping that they’ll be able to deliver the level of innovation and agility that newer technology companies and technology platforms were built to deliver. Digital transformation is at the top of the hype cycle, powered by the promise of cloud computing, big data and the Internet of Things; and software buyers must be open to new thinking, new approaches and new technologies.” 

Shirish NetkeShirish Netke, president and CEO, Amberoon: Future-proof architecture. In the past, we have looked at architecture to make sure that a solution would work even if technology evolves or vendors change. Today, architectural choices are invariably tied to a company’s business model and can be a competitive advantage. Choosing the right architecture can make or break a business and can do so very quickly. 

As an example, emerging technologies such as Apache Spark provide alternate architectural approaches to deploying solutions. Leveraging this software while mitigating technology risk requires scarce technical talent. At this stage of the technology evolution, talent will gravitate towards vendors rather than buyers. The buyers’ recruiting challenge will persist for a few years. 

Companies are well aware of the risks and rewards of future-proof architecture. However, they may not consider traditional software vendors as their allies in recommending the best choice. Consultants, another source of talent, are very important in making technology decisions but vary considerably in their skills and knowledge and are driven by billable hours. Software buyers will underwrite the risk of making architectural decisions and living with the consequences. Some will do well and others will not. Perhaps Lloyds of London can step in?” 

Ron BianchiniRon Bianchini, co-founder, president and CEO, Avere Systems: The biggest risk is obsolescence. So much of software today is still written as if we live in an on-premises world, but we know that’s not the case anymore. The cloud is changing all of that.” 

Joan WrabetzJoan Wrabetz, CTO, QualiSystems: The biggest risk for software buyers in 2016 is likely to be the continuing diversity of choices for components like databases and development environments. We seem to be in a state of constant movement to the next cool programming language or database or analytics package “du jour.” Hadoop isn’t cool enough, you have to try “Company X.” Why program in JavaScript when you can program in “go”? So what if only five people on the planet actually know how to program with these tools and languages? This makes it very hard to make good strategic three-year investments in software. The package you pick might suddenly become obsolete because of its choice of database or programming language or even operating environment.”  

James MalachowskiJames Malachowski, CEO and co-founder, NodePrime: “In 2016 the trend of not buying software will continue to rapidly accelerate. Businesses no longer buy software, they rent it with dollars and data, or they use free (aka open source) software and pay heavy services to make it work. These forces in combination introduce a completely new and unheralded lock-in paradigm where vendors and developers of open source platforms can hold businesses hostage. With so many vendors creating proprietary technologies that are incompatible with those of other companies, software buyers in 2016 will continue to struggle with selecting the right platform for their business needs. 

Extrapolate this to consuming Anything as a Service, the gravitational force of massive amounts of data, ingress/egress costs, and it’s clear this is the biggest risk facing software buyers.” 

Andrew AtkinsonAndrew Atkinson, senior director of product marketing, Cloud Cruiser: “The biggest risk for software buyers in 2016 is investing in the wrong stuff, same as it ever was. What is the wrong stuff? Software that does not provide the business value for which it was purchased. This failure to provide value can be the result of insufficient functionality, poor matching of the solution to the actual business problem or inability to integrate with existing data sources and other systems. 

Another risk comes in the form of potentially buying monolithic solutions from “legacy” vendors, which take light years to implement. With rapidly growing cloud adoption, there is a big shift towards micro-services, so it becomes ever more risky to adopt software that is inflexible and cannot run on cloud or virtualized environments. It’s all about OPEX ROI with less focus on CAPEX.” 

Andrew Atkinson is senior director of product marketing at Cloud Cruiser where he has responsibility for working with engineering, product management and sales teams to bring products successfully to market. He has proven ability to achieve and act upon a deep understanding of customers, markets and competitors. Previously at E2open, he has more than two decades of startup, international and IPO experience with various software companies.  

Ron Bianchini is co-founder, president and CEO at Avere Systems. Prior to Avere, Ron was a senior vice president at NetApp, where he served as the leader of the NetApp Pittsburgh Technology Center. Before NetApp, he was CEO and co-founder of Spinnaker Networks, which developed the scale-out storage clustering technology acquired by NetApp. He was also vice president of product architecture at FORE Systems and co-founder of Scalable Networks (acquired by FORE).  

Suresh Chandrasekaran is senior vice president at Denodo. Throughout his career in product management and marketing roles at Vitria, Alta Vista, Compaq and as a management consultant at Booz Allen, Suresh has helped businesses leverage information through the medium of technology to deliver a competitive advantage. He speaks frequently at conferences on technology and its business impact, drawing from 15+ years of experience in leading integration middleware and Web companies. Contact him at 

Darren Cunningham is vice president of marketing at SnapLogic 

Sujatha Kashyap is VP of technology at Robin Systems. She spent 13+ years understanding every aspect of performance across enterprise-class workloads, from impacts of micro-architectural trade-offs to complex interactions between data center components. She led benchmark publications for several generations of IBM servers and resolved critical performance problems at Fortune 500 companies. She worked with marquee names in the financial industry to create extreme-performance solutions for high-frequency trading. She holds 11 patents. Connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter. 

Avinash Lakshman is CEO and founder of Hedvig. He founded Hedvig in 2012 after co-inventing Dynamo while at Amazon (2004-2007) and Cassandra at Facebook (2007-2011).   

James Malachowski is the CEO and founder of NodePrime, a hyperscale data center management and intelligence startup. Before NodePrime, he worked at Dell in the enterprise solutions group helping some of the world’s largest cloud, SaaS and gaming companies scale their data center infrastructure. Before Dell, James spent four years at Cisco working in the public sector as a systems engineer where he was a graduate of the Cisco Sales Associate Program. 

Shirish Netke is president and CEO of Amberoon Inc., a provider of data-driven business perspective solutions. He has led companies in the area of software, services and electronic entertainment. He was one of the first evangelists for Java when it was launched by Sun Microsystems. Follow him on Twitter 

Walter O’Brien is the founder and CEO of Scorpion Computer Services, Inc., CEO of Scorpion Studios, and executive producer of the hit CBS television show, “Scorpion.” He is a frequent media commentator on topics in technology, cybersecurity and counter-hacking measures. 

Al Ramadan, Christopher Lochhead and Dave Peterson are co-founding partners at Play Bigger Advisors, a San Francisco-based category design firm that coaches technology executives to build market-leading companies. Follow them on Twitter 

Joan Wrabetz is CTO for QualiSystems. Earlier she was VP/CTO for EMC’s emerging product division. Joan has over 20 years’ technology executive experience. She was founder/CEO of Aumni Data, CEO of Tricord Systems (now Adaptec), VP/GM at StorageTek, founder/CEO of Aggregate Computing (now Platinum Technologies) and held management positions at Control Data Corporation and SRI International. She was a BlueStream Ventures partner, served on the board of many startups and holds multiple tech patents.