Enterprise IT in 2016

When we spoke with IT Pro Portal at the start of last year, we shared a number of predictions and trends that we said would shape the cloud and IT industry in 2015. 12 months on and we’ve seen many of our predictions come true.

The adoption of cloud computing in the UK soared past 84 per cent as early as May, making it evident that we had been right in predicting the technology would become even more mainstream. With enterprises aiming to become more mobile, 2015 also saw the normalisation of “anytime, anywhere working” and the increased dependency on IT to help drive business transformation.

Over two-thirds of IT departments are now set to increase their operational IT budgets over the next 12 months, making it clear that enterprises will continue to look to IT to help drive business goals in 2016 – the real question is how?

Evolve or become extinct

As IT continues to unlock the potential for transforming working practices, increased efficiencies and development of new customer offerings, the pressure for businesses to evolve digitally is only growing. It is no longer sufficient “just” to be the best in your industry. In 2016, businesses across all industries will need to examine their untapped data assets to drive the next wave of innovation and competition. In each industry there are businesses which will effectively leverage these data assets to drive unprecedented levels of competition. More than ever, if businesses are not ready to transform to meet new customer and employee needs, competitors will be.

As well as businesses themselves transforming with IT in 2016, the cybersecurity landscape will also continue to evolve at a rapid rate. As we’ve seen over the past 18 months, the nature of the cyber threat has changed in fundamental ways. No longer is perimeter based security sufficient (if indeed it ever was) – a deep, granular, distributed security model is now required to meet the security challenges of the year ahead. Advances in software defined networking, combined with other non-traditional approaches (think beyond IP and port ACLs!), are what will enable IT to keep pace with the evolving threat.

Cloud will continue to be crucial

Even with adoption rates in the UK at 84 per cent, the ways in which businesses use cloud computing continues to evolve. Indeed, Computer Economics’ most recent survey found that nearly half of IT departments are increasing spending on cloud infrastructures and 56 per cent will do the same for cloud applications.

The further into the year we move, the more people will understand how to map their application portfolio to the myriad of cloud models on the market. Insomuch as mainframes still exist (indeed are a growth area for some), so will on premise IT, private cloud, boutique cloud, and hyper scale cloud. All will continue to remain relevant throughout 2016. Much of the new development, so called “born in cloud” applications, will likely align with the hyper scale cloud – whereas the vast majority of existing enterprise applications may not.

That said, the full value proposition of hyper scale cloud will be stemmed by a shortage of truly able developers. Already now there is a shortage, and many of the current “born in cloud” applications are really just traditional designs deployed to the cloud. Applications, even newly developed ones, often rely on the infrastructure layer to provide resilience. The next generation of applications engineered to provide resilience at the application layer – i.e. those that can tolerate infrastructure failure – will suffer until the shortage of developers is addressed. Unfortunately, this is a long term problem that may require one or more higher education cycles to resolve.

When looking at existing cloud models, we expect that private cloud will see a short resurgence in 2016. This is due to a few factors. Early adopters of public cloud will be re-evaluating the commercial fit of private cloud, whereas late adopters may move directly to private cloud due to regulations and compliance needs. Cloud economics are compelling for a wide variety of use cases, but a CAPEX investment supporting a stable, long term application base often makes sense. Additionally, many regulatory bodies lag behind in innovation, and private cloud often addresses compliance obligations while still providing many of the benefits of public cloud. However, this expected resurgence is likely to be short lived as regulatory bodies catch up, applications evolve, and more flexible pricing models for public cloud prevail.

Whether the above predictions prove correct or not, 2016 promises to be another interesting year in the evolution of enterprise IT. Businesses’ reliance on the IT department and cloud technologies to remain innovative and competitive is not likely to diminish in the year ahead. It is therefore important for business units and IT teams to understand the challenges ahead and prepare accordingly to capitalise on the opportunities that enterprise IT continues to create.

Sean McAvan, Managing Director at NaviSite Europe