What a year 2015 was for the technology and IT industry: We saw cloud adoption grow to ubiquity – be it public, private or hybrid; data growth surge and the adoption of analytics to wrestle it into submission expand; not to mention the integration of data streams from sources that ranged from social media to connected IoT sensors.
But what does 2016 have in store for enterprise IT? Can we expect more of the same or will 2016 be a completely different kettle of fish?
Breaking down the barriers between servers, storage, and networking
In 2016 converged infrastructure will minimise the drudgery of hardware integration, and free up customers to experiment with software innovation. Converged infrastructure is designed to increase IT responsiveness to business demands while reducing overall cost of computing.
In its inaugural Voice of the Enterprise: Converged Infrastructure survey, 451 Research found that 40 per cent of surveyed end users plan to increase spending on converged infrastructure through 2015 – a clear sign that converged will become more prevalent in 2016.
As with most technologies, the path to convergence is driven by the need for simplicity and speed and lowered costs.
DevOps will drive growth in converged infrastructure
In addition to simplicity and speed, converged is one of the fastest growing segments in enterprise infrastructure. It solves the number one issue most organisations have: shortage of IT skills.
Enter DevOps, which promises communication, collaboration, integration and automation to create efficiencies within organisations. In 2016, they will see an increase in investments on converged infrastructure, as DevOps emerges as a key use case driving growth.
While DevOps requires more time for application programming, it automates and optimises many processes like hardware configuration. It also promises reduced time to deployment for new applications. This transition of workflows can help IT teams refocus their staff to take on tasks that help achieve and further business goals.
Price cuts will double the flash market size
The first wave of flash adoption was driven by its promise of performance, but used only sparingly due to high costs. Until now, flash was reserved for cache and tier technologies, or was carefully applied to isolated performance applications such as databases.
However, we have begun to see a steady increase in interest around flash in the last few years. According to IDC, the worldwide flash-based array market grew to $11.3 billion in 2014. Meanwhile, IDC reported that flash grew 101 per cent year over year in the second quarter of 2015 in EMEA “defying overall market storage slowdown.” We will continue to see this trend continue in the next year.
New uses for flash will arise
In 2016, the industry will continue to embark on a flash revolution as a result of its lower prices. Flash sales are poised to double due to aggressive price cuts as large enterprise storage companies stake out claims on this bright spot in the market.
With decreasing prices, enterprises will soon begin to find new use cases for flash to help drive their business. Mansfield Oil, a leader in energy supply, logistics, and services in North America, is one of the largest privately owned companies in the United States by revenue. The company is utilising flash to maintain robust performance for its high-transaction SQL Server environment. This enables Mansfield to stay ahead of competitors, ensuring critical business applications are always available—without exception.
Shifting landscapes for the storage admin
There is no doubt that hybrid cloud is taking off. Sandler Research found that the market is growing at an annual compound rate of 29 per cent over the period of 2014-2019. Therefore, IT organisations must learn to support a modern constituency of end users who are eager to create new, flexible, and responsive IT resource environments and who see the public cloud as a means to achieve this goal on their own.
In this hybrid cloud approach, seamless data management across cloud resources is critical to enable IT organisations to complement a private cloud with a public cloud strategy that does not introduce new risk and complicate policies, or result in the loss of control of valuable business information. As such, this impacts the current state of the storage administrator.
The emergence of the hybrid cloud data manager
The role of storage admins will continue to evolve in response to transforming IT landscapes. As organisations move to a cloud delivery model to reduce costs and increase flexibility, they shift from being builders and operators of their own data centers to being brokers of services that span both private and public cloud resources.
In 2016, the classic storage administrator will either evolve into a data manager of the hybrid cloud with a seat at the executive table or hole up in a comfortable storage product minutia and become increasingly less relevant.
The hybrid cloud evolution
Data security concerns and sovereignty requirements are driving IT to take a closer look at their cloud plans. Administrators need to know exactly where their data lives and who is managing it at all times.
Companies like DARZ – a German-based full-service IT provider that operates its own high-security data center - have teamed up with NetApp to provide enterprises with trusted data protection, the elasticity to meet demand, and the freedom and flexibility that comes from securely combining colocation, a private cloud and hyperscale public clouds into one seamless solution. With the ability to securely switch between cloud providers in seconds with no data migration, enterprises immediately benefit by spending less time on IT and more time focusing on innovation without sacrificing security or control. In 2016, we will continue to see enterprise hybrid cloud further evolve.
Lee Caswell, VP Product, Solution & Services Marketing, NetApp