Enterprise IT: The year ahead

Investment in new IT is booming. Gartner estimates that global IT spending this year will total $3.5 trillion – a 2.7 per cent increase from 2016.   

Increased spending, however, is only part of what we can expect in the enterprise IT landscape. As well as the question of spending priorities, both external and industry developments will test organisations and their service providers this year. 

Compliance: Uncertainty and complexity will drive need for flexible and adaptive strategies 

Last year's big decisions in the world of politics will make their impact felt in 2017. Theresa May has confirmed the UK will be leaving the single market, potentially fragmenting European ambitions for consolidated data protection policy. High-profile hacks and disputes between law enforcement agencies and tech giants like Apple have put data privacy front and centre of the public’s mind. The Safe Harbour agreement has been struck down and Privacy Shield introduced. The coming EU General Data Protection Regulation could help better protect EU citizens, but also creates challenges for organisations that store and process data. 

These developments will affect the regulatory and compliance landscape beyond 2017. Consumers, businesses and governments will only become more aware of where personal data is stored, how it is used and protected, and how it is moved between countries.  

This, in turn, can create a more complicated problem for organisations wanting to store and move data across multiple geographies. Flexible strategies that can adapt to an uncertain political and legislative environment will therefore be at the heart of these organisations’ IT needs. 

Multi-cloud and hybrid IT environments that allow sensitive data to be stored in specific infrastructures and geographies will be critical to addressing this need. The ability to deploy quickly without large capex investments or fixed-term bets on future conditions, will deliver against the needs of today, while keeping the options for tomorrow open.  

Security: Threats and solutions will be cloud-driven   

Between Yahoo’s two consecutive data breaches, leaked DNC emails during the US presidential election or Dyn’s DDoS attack, large scale hacks and cyber-attacks were all over the news in 2016. While cloud has enabled some types of large scale attacks, the solution to these threats also lies in the cloud.   

In response, some of the biggest names in technology are investing heavily in AI, meaning it will be a significant contributor to making the cloud even more secure. As AI grows, cloud scalability will enable automated scanning on a mass scale, combined with ever more intelligent threat detection, analysis and response. In short, AI will draw on cloud resources to continuously learn and improve how it protects organisations from attacks.   

Developments in Software Defined Networking (SDN) and hyper-converged platforms will also enable more granular protection of assets, with technologies like Micro-Segmentation enabling organisations to extend security policies at the workload level. 

These new levels of automation driven by AI and infrastructure transformation will also play an important role in reducing the risk of human error in the security chain. 

Hyper-scale and multi-cloud will grow, and will be managed   

As security, compliance and the need for resilience drive the need for multiple cloud environments, organisations will look to consolidate the management of these diverse platforms.   

Hyper-scale public cloud providers have capitalised on huge market growth – and will likely continue to do so in the coming years – but such deployments can be complicated and skills in these areas can be expensive and hard to find. Organisations will increasingly look to managed service providers to create deploy and manage these environments for them. This growing demand for multi-cloud, will also result in more partnerships, mergers and general consolidation in the cloud and service provider market. 

SDN will be welcomed to the mainstream  

It’s been labelled as the next big thing in networking for several years now, but expect 2017 to be the year SDN finally enters the mainstream of enterprise IT. As the big telco industry players invest large sums in network transformation, the cost of deployment is decreasing. SDN and its integration with cloud infrastructure will therefore become an increasingly attractive choice for enterprises. 

Hyper-convergence will be real, but skills will be scarce  

Hyper-converged infrastructure offers organisations the ability to allow software to integrate compute, storage and networking functionality on uniform, commodity hardware platforms. The real cost savings and performance increases that this approach can deliver will drive demand in 2017 – particularly as we begin to see the more real use cases from early adopters.   

However, as with cloud, skills in this new technology area are hard to find and expensive to hire. This means there will be a growing market for skilled partners to deploy and manage these environments on behalf of clients. 

We’re looking ahead to an enterprise and IT landscape that faces new challenges as well as opportunities. The common thread to best meet the challenges and capitalise on the opportunities will be strong partnerships and cooperation – both between service providers in creating the right, flexible solutions, as well as between organisations and managed service providers to ensure solutions meet specific business needs. 

Sean McAvan, Managing Director, Navisite Europe 

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