At the end of this year, many IT departments find themselves with a range of new applications and an evolving ICT estate as enterprises have been investing heavily in ‘going digital’ in 2015. It has taken some bold confrontations for many execs, as organisations have looked to control their expansion into the cloud, whilst at the same time trying to manage existing infrastructure that is not cloud ready. This shift is also being forced by companies frenetically needing to accommodate what Gartner classifies as ‘mode 2’ IT needs: agility, being faster to market than the next guy, and making room and time for experimental development of anything from the small website tweak to major business transformational implementations.
Looking ahead to 2016, what will businesses think about for next steps in their brave new 'bimodal' digital future? Not too surprisingly, they’ve learned from the past and are applying it to the future. “Somewhere in the cloud” doesn’t cut it any longer. Their ICT/cloud platform needs to give them control and assurance over the location of their data, provide processing proximity for new Big Data and IoT applications, and be engineered to play nicely with new services based on hyper-convergence and containerisation. With this in mind, here are my four predictions for 2016:
1. We’ll see hyper-convergence at a platform level
We have already started to witness a shift in the enterprise ICT market to IaaS and managed IaaS as a response to a growing desire for organisations to consolidate their networking, storage and computing. Enterprises are getting a boost from new evolving cloud services as they look to overcome the challenge of managing existing infrastructure, while embracing cloud. Services based on hyper-convergence demand a network which is constructed to allow them to seamlessly work together, as well as the ability to run applications across distributed architectures, in-house, hosted and legacy clouds. Soon we will see an increased amount of services based on the hyper-convergence of network and cloud computing resources. This, in turn, will result in platforms that quickly consolidate and discover customers’ enterprise IT platforms while enabling DevOps expansion and skills.
2. Internet of Things (IoT) will get a boost from increased deployments of distributed clouds
The growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) will be a big trend in cloud next year. The rise and deployment in hyper-scale distributed cloud platforms with localised instances is about to bring IoT to the spotlight. The new developments will enable the rapid expansion of IoT, especially into areas of health and finance where the proximity and location of the data is either regulated or required to offer a responsive service.
3. Big Data will stay local
Big Data is changing the way companies do business. Not only is it driving decisions at the board level, it also enables businesses to remain agile and drive competitive advantage. But Big Data is only getting started and its focus is shifting from the importance of data, to the location of data. The recent ruling regarding the European Safe Harbour agreement, focussed attention on the importance of the data location, with many organisations more determined than ever to take a closer look at both by whom and where their data is served. Add to this the need to analyse Big Data pools, to extract meaningful actionable insight and you have a scenario where the raw data will be processed locally and the less bulky analysed results can then be distributed to central locations and facilities where it can be acted on. The mixture of the complications associated with moving large data sets and the increasing appetite of regulators to impose rules on data privacy, will encourage the development of local and distributed models for data processing to come to the fore in 2016, as organisations look to re-think their data strategy.
4. Containerisation as a platform will start to become a viable enterprise alternative.
It’s clear the message is getting through that cloud is an enabler of tools and services when and where it is appropriate to use them. Rather than being just another bandwagon to jump on, it can actually change some really fundamental things about how you run your business, let alone what your business is. But this technology was just getting started: The widespread, but most importantly, more strategic use of cloud and further abstraction away from the physical kit will lead to the next step in enterprise infrastructure based on containers. The ability to rapidly create and deploy applications globally will start to replace legacy models, saving money and time and providing higher levels of agility.
Expectations for the IT department in 2016 are high. Those who rise to the challenge and embrace going digital will drive a successful enterprise transformation. Each of these emerging trends, while being complex, all provide both opportunities and challenges for enterprise. It is important for organisations to consider how a new technology sits within the business and how it can work alongside existing infrastructure. Large platforms cannot be ripped out and replaced by a vaguely defined cloud in an instant. Operational stability and agility can go hand in hand as cloud evolves the geographical distribution, network integration and higher levels of virtualisation necessary for meeting emerging enterprise needs and at the same time be sympathetic to legacy parts that won’t be going anywhere for a while yet.
Matthew Finnie, CTO, Interoute
Image Credit: Shutterstock/Sergey Nivens