5 Real World IT trends that will matter in 2017

With this year promising evermore tech hype and noise, Paul Timms, MD at MCSA highlights real life IT trends that will have an impact on businesses and how these can be managed for a successful outcome. 

IT cost increases 

After many years of seeing price deflation, it’s inevitable that changes in the value of GBP will result in the major IT vendors raising their prices to recover profitability. These price rises will mean that cloud services, new IT equipment and vendor support agreements will all cost more.    

Experience shows that many UK organisations are locked into a cycle of upgrading IT hardware on expiry of its warranty.  However, if you don’t need the latest and greatest then it makes sense to keep equipment and support it – especially if it still performs well, is stable and continues to meet business needs.

As vendor prices rise, support prices don’t have to become uncompetitive, look for IT support providers who charge in pounds, not dollars - and those that keep a significant stock of IT hardware spares as a way of mitigating replacement cost risks. If you do consider raising the retirement age of your IT equipment to save on infrastructure costs – ensure that it’s sustained by an expert third party support organisation.   

Opting for a third-party support contract, instead of the vendor's out of warranty tariff, can deliver a significant saving on service costs and improve the terms of your SLA agreement.   

Storage growth 

As the connected world evolves, greater volumes of data are being stored and shared through a multitude of information hungry routes – including apps, email, instant messages, texts and social media. To effectively support this information economy; ensuring data’s continued security, delivery and accessibility will be evermore critical over the coming years.   

The repository for the storage, management and dissemination of information for businesses will progressively be managed by well-run data centres – be they cloud or on premise. Huge investments are being made into data centres, and related technology so the technologies used will increasingly have to support greater scale.    

Against this background there is an expectation that we’ll see a change in the amount of IT resources required to manage and maintain data centres - as well as the type of infrastructure they house.   As part of this we all need to consider how well advised we are in terms of managing and designing our critical platforms to ensure we can use the latest storage technologies to help us. 

Shadow IT   

The growing occurrence of ‘shadow IT’ - the purchasing of cloud-based services by staff - without the approval or knowledge of the IT department, will compromise cost, control and security throughout organisations. This trend is being driven by increasing pressure on business users to be agile and productive, coupled with the ease of which they can now buy and swiftly access solutions – with just a credit card and a browser.   

Current research indicates that almost three quarters of company decision makers have used a third party cloud application, without the approval of their IT departments. The extent of these unsanctioned cloud investments are often only revealed during an audit process - once damage has already been done. New methods are therefore emerging to manage and remove this insider threat.

To prevent rogue IT spending, the IT department must urgently combine a strategic vision of the business users, with an IT model that balances IT Security and Governance with cost and the simple objective of running the business. 

Cloud maturity    

Use of the ‘cloud’ will continue to grow and despite a stream of new hybrid solutions there are still concerns over the security of critical customer information.  Consequently many businesses will continue to store their most critical applications and sensitive data, in physical data centres - albeit with the latest virtualisation technologies ensuring that the most is made of the hardware.   Issues such as business continuity, data residency, information protection and segmentation compliance, will also drive this trend for the foreseeable future.   

This means that while the number of companies opting to consume cloud services continues to grow, we can expect that ‘private cloud’ will continue to coexist for an extended period of time too. Public cloud-based solutions will also mature over the next few years, offering enhanced performance and improved security. 

With advancements in software that enable organisations to transparently move and migrate their workloads into the cloud, most organisations will find cloud-based, data centre-driven, computing an attractive proposition. Microsoft’s new hybrid cloud platform product - Azure Stack, is being released in 2017 and could prove to be the biggest enterprise IT platform release ever.   

Managed Service 

Organisations are under increasing pressure to outsource infrastructure to the cloud and adopt software delivered as a service. Therefore, over the coming year, it’s important that end-user IT teams don’t get caught up in the hype and instead carefully assess what makes sense for their business.   

The reality is that much of the landscape at the infrastructure level is evolution - not revolution, and although there is great value in looking forward, progression must be made at a considered pace. Many of our customers are making better use of their IT staff by getting them to really look at how IT can add value to their business – this has meant a shift in the type of work the internal team need focus on and moving to a managed service model to support the critical underpinning of IT that “just needs to work”. 

Data centre solutions are complex and often revered by the many in company IT teams however many now recognise that as systems become more complex they want, and need, to underpin their own skills with external flexible teams who can be relied upon to deliver the basics whilst they focus on the business needs.  These managed services offer a best value option to those teams who are looking to make the most of their own expertise by blending it with an external company who has specialists in the core critical IT and are therefore able to deliver a better service for less money.    

Paul Timms, MD at MCSA 

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