Now that 2018 has finally arrived, we here at New Relic can’t resist the urge to think about the year ahead, and speculate on what interesting and exciting technology developments might be in store.

While we don’t actually have a crystal ball handy in our offices, we have the next best thing—a team of very smart people who can make educated (and sometimes creative) guesses about how technologies such as the cloud, containers, artificial intelligence, and the Internet of Things will play out in 2018 and beyond.

Stand aside, Nostradamus—the seers at New Relic are ready to share what the future holds:


Lee Atchison, New Relic Senior Director of Strategic Architecture

Container Orchestration will become less important. By every reasonable measure, 2017 can be seen as the “Year of Kubernetes.” Because of the advent of the EKS container service by Amazon Web Services (AWS), the battle of container orchestration is now over—and Kubernetes won.

That may be true, but I believe in 2018 container orchestration will become less important because of product offerings such as ECS/Fargate in AWS, which allows you to manage containers without needing to understand the underlying infrastructure those containers run in. In other words, the specific details of container orchestration are no longer as important.

Much like EC2 instances removed the need to worry how server virtualization was implemented and how the underlying raw hardware servers were managed, Fargate will remove the need to worry about how the container infrastructure and container management is implemented. With technologies like Fargate, you will be able to launch individual containers as easily as you launch virtual server instances today.

Deployment tooling and monitoring will become more important. Just-in-time deployments have become standard operating procedure at most leading-edge technology companies; continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) pipelines are becoming standard in most companies. The result? Companies are doing more and more deployments. More releases, not fewer releases, is seen as the path to higher reliability, higher availability, and higher scalability for modern applications.

While this increase in deployments is good at managing large scale, healthy, modern applications, it is also clear that making sure deployments work and understanding the impact of a deployment is a critical aspect of seeing an application operational. As such, in 2018 monitoring deployment pipelines, deployment processes, and how deployments impact individual services and applications will be an important focus for most modern technology companies.


technology predictions : assisted intuition conceptBeth Long, New Relic Senior Software Engineer, Site Engineering

The “Big Data” boom will marry analysis to (assisted) intuition. We can no longer rely on humans watching dashboards of numbers to understand systems that are increasingly complex and distributed. In 2018, I predict the “observability” buzzword will continue to spread, and in the quest for observability we’ll see wider adoption and development of holistic visualizations (leveraging humans’ visual processing abilities to intuitively process large amounts of data) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) / Machine Learning (ML) assistive analysis (to sift through data and narrow down which avenues humans should investigate).


Darren Cunningham, New Relic VP of Portfolio Marketing

The digital (business) divide will widen. The distance between the digital winners and losers will continue to grow in 2018 as many traditional IT organizations choose comfort over customer experience. The ability to get more information about potential problems sooner, navigate change quickly and effectively, and get teams working efficiently together so they can take the right actions right away will be recognized as essential for successful digital initiatives in 2018.

AWS will continue to dominate public cloud adoption. I think that while interest in multi-cloud will grow and Azure and Google Cloud Platform will gain traction, AWS will continue to dominate in 2018. The list of innovations announced at re:Invent 2017 was staggering, and in 2018 AWS will continue to be way out in front. I predict we’ll see a growing demand from companies for proof of public cloud ROI as part of their overall digital transformation strategy.

DevOps will shift into high gear. In 2017 adopting DevOps practices became a top priority for every modern software development team. But as we say at New Relic, DevOps without measurement is a fail. With the ability to quantify and measure KPIs like deployment frequency, lead time for changes, MTTR, and change failure rate, I predict we’ll see the impact of DevOps shift from the back office to the front office in 2018. One more DevOps prediction: the forthcoming book Accelerate by Nicole Forsgren, Gene Kim, and Jez Humble is going to be amazing!


James Nguyen, New Relic Principal Product Marketing Manager, Portfolio Marketing

Artificial Intelligence will finally arrive—for some. I think that Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, which have been incubating for many decades now, started to hit a tipping point in the last year or so, and will continue to develop quickly throughout 2018. When I learned that in 2015 AI/ML was replacing the algorithms the drove Google search, I remember thinking that if it could power the heart of Google’s business, this was a real sign that this group of technologies had finally arrived.

technology predictions : artificial intelligence conceptAs the saying goes, “The future is already here—it’s just not very evenly distributed”—the Googles, Facebooks, and Amazons of the world will be first to be able to capitalize on this, and it will be quite a while before everyone else catches up. It’s still hard to do AI/ML in a way that produces superior outcomes, with all the Ph.D.s, data, infrastructure, and investment that it takes, but over time it’s going to get easier and easier, and more ubiquitous as a result.

DON’T MISS: Artificial Intelligence: The Reality Behind the Hype


Matt Devincenzi, New Relic Director of Digital Strategy, Growth Marketing

Net Neutrality rulings backfire. I predict that as privacy becomes increasingly more important as well as GDPR laws start to shift, a lot of customer data used for personalization/targeting will move out of the cloud and down to local devices (think of what Apple is doing with its A11 Bionic chip). I also predict that the recent Net Neutrality rulings are going to backfire in a big way. I wouldn’t be surprised if we start seeing more state regulation in this area.


Fredric Paul, New Relic Editor-in-Chief

technology predictions : internet of things conceptThe IoT will get even bigger. I predict that the Internet of Things will continue to grow in importance, increasingly rivaling the internet of people. According to research firm IDC, global IoT spending will top $772 billion in 2018, with industries like manufacturing ($189 billion), transportation ($85 billion), and utilities ($73 billion) leading the way. That’s not really news, but the effects will be transformative. For one thing, monitoring and optimizing IoT will become increasingly important, as will figuring out how to use IoT data in new and more powerful ways.

I also think it’s likely that at least one massive IoT security incident will become a prominent media story this year. That may stoke a backlash against the technology in some parts of the public, but it won’t slow IoT’s growth, or spark new levels of security. (IoT security is a tough nut to crack, given the need to keep down device and network costs.) Like security issues in too many other areas of technology, IoT vulnerabilities will become accepted as just another cost of doing business.

Artificial Intelligence will pass the Turing Test. I predict that at some point in 2018, a prominent media figure (or at least a prominent social media figure) will be revealed to be an artificially intelligent bot. The entity’s social media posts, pictures, videos, audio, and even public appearances will all have been created digitally, never actually occurring in the real world. I also predict that this will surprise very few people and cause only a limited ripple of unease among the populace, including the people who were “fooled” by the AI bot.


Of course, as we all know, the future is uncertain. The biggest tech story in 2018 may be something nobody ever saw coming (the Roomba revolt?). What’s your tech prediction for the new year? Share with us @NewRelic using hashtag #techpredictions.

David Gaule is an editor at New Relic. Prior to joining the company, he served as senior editor for Way back in the days of paper books, David held positions at HarperCollins Publishers and Little, Brown & Company. View posts by .

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