Apps, private cloud and big data: Three predictions for enterprises in 2013

2013 promises to be a challenging year for enterprises as they come to terms with emerging technologies that could disrupt their day-to-day routines and force them to adapt to new paradigms.

Public problems in private clouds

Companies have been rolling out private clouds for several years. Many organisations consider private clouds safer than public clouds; IT has full control over the hardware, access, data, etc. In reality, early adopters have found serious problems as they move to private clouds - some technical, some political. The technical problems include the design of shared cloud infrastructure. As companies move applications to a shared private cloud, problems with one application can overflow and impact others.

For example, an application can go viral with users, driving an unexpected spike in workload, swamping network traffic in a cloud domain and grinding all applications in the shared domain to a halt. Private clouds promise shared savings but also present shared risk. Isolated physical hardware stacks, however, can avoid the shared risk scenario. As failure cases emerge, political challenges begin to surface. Application teams refuse to migrate, leaving private clouds only partially utilised. IT teams begin campaigning for adoption, to fulfil the promises of return on investment. Without next generation workload and data management solutions or a different approach to leveraging the private cloud, shared risk can continue to outweigh shared savings.

Enterprise apps take the stage

In a digital world, companies compete on applications more than ever. Apps are the face of the company to customers and partners, and great apps can generate big revenues. In recent years, when people talk about growth in “apps”, they often mean the little icon sitting on a smartphone or tablet. But significant changes are also coming to the apps that run major portions of the typical enterprise, and these apps are being rebuilt and modernised.

The success of Workday’s IPO highlights the opportunity to redesign big enterprise apps for the modern world. A greater emphasis on applications in the enterprise will also highlight the drag in app development. Getting apps right can mean the difference between success and has-been status for global companies. Application acceleration and innovation can drive a wave of new growth and market share for large organisations. Billions will be spent and billions will be wasted under the current processes for enterprise application initiatives.

Big data causes big outages

Big data has typically referred to better analysis of very large sets of unstructured data, often for predictive analytics. Entire sets of technology are being built to improve analysis of huge sets of unstructured data. At the same time, however, few have noticed that relational databases, the engines that complete transactions and power both ERP and e-commerce at most organisations, have grown to unprecedented size. Five years ago, a 500GB database would have been considered large, but now it is common for companies to manage many production databases of 10TB or more. This matters because these databases have outgrown the ability of backup and recovery solutions to protect them.

Many organisations have simply stopped backing up their production databases, as they cannot complete the job before the next day’s processing begins. While an inability to run predictive analytics on non-production data won’t hurt business operations, an outage in a transaction database certainly will. And the inability to recover that database for days or weeks can mean the difference between making or missing earnings. Simply put, the growth in data will soon begin to overwhelm existing technologies and processes for structured (i.e. relational) data management, and this will impact business in a very serious way. Virtualisation of databases not only eliminates the many copies of big databases, but also the need to run massive nightly backup jobs to protect those databases. As more companies understand the impact to revenue and operations of losing key databases, they will look to new methods of database management and protection.