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Moving forward in 2016: A view from VMware

As we settle into 2016, David Parry-Jones, Vice President and General Manager for Northern Europe at VMware, anticipates what the year will bring in terms of cloud, security, mobility and new skills

  1. Cloud - the Professional Era of Hybrid

The last few years have seen IT departments pushing the boundaries and testing the limits of cloud-based enterprise IT, both across public and hybrid cloud deployments. However, the cloud evolution currently looks a little like a half-built bridge: picture two siloed towers that remain largely disconnected and disjointed:

  • On one side you have the on-premises private cloud tower where governance is strong but app delivery is simply too slow.
  • On the other side is the off-premises public cloud tower, where application delivery is fast but governance is weak.

To manage this more effectively and keep the ‘bridge’ steady, we are going to see more organisations move to a more connected and compatible hybrid cloud approach, in which businesses can launch applications to the ‘span’ instead of a silo. This model of unified hybrid cloud will represent IT in 2016, but also provide the foundation for years to come.

  1. Security: greater data control and data sovereignty

This year, we can expect to see a data shake up in terms of the changing EU landscape and data regulations. Firstly, the EU’s upcoming data protection regulation proposes stronger data protection rules for Europe. Data sovereignty will be big here; the regulation raises the spectre of many more organisations risking serious infringement; most notably, organisations will simply have to know where their data is stored. This topic could also come even closer under the microscope in light of the upcoming EU Referendum; should the UK leave the EU, there is still a lot of uncertainty around where UK business data will need to be stored and whether all data may have to be stored on UK soils.

Worryingly, VMware’s recent research showed that 63 per cent of organisations could not say with complete confidence where their data is stored. It goes without saying that if an organisation doesn’t know where its data resides; it won’t know what its data sovereignty obligations are. Again, the right hybrid cloud approach here will be critical as it will let a business take advantage of the cloud while knowing where their data is, which helps them be prepared, no matter what the outcome.

  1. Security and Virtualisation: Software Defined Networking

Virtualisation used as foundational architecture is providing a critical translation layer between IT infrastructure and co-existing applications and data. While general network infrastructure and cloud computing is becoming ever more widely adopted, CIOs increasingly understand that it’s Software-Defined Networking (SDN) which is key to helping IT departments both deliver against high expectations from the wider business, as well raising the game for security.

SDN will be on the rise in 2016 because it provides a more seamless and efficient security roll out, automating deployment of services in minutes instead of weeks. This has a vast knock-on effect on what can be achieved in terms of driving innovation and value added services with the time saved.

  1. There will be further investment in mobility

A number of positive strides have already been made towards improving mobile efficiency at work. As part of our first annual Business Mobility Report we found that over 85 per cent of organisations, for example, have enabled basic individual productivity applications like email. However, there is a clear chasm when it comes to improving wider business productivity, with only 17 per cent of global companies having shifted a core business process to a mobile model.

Technology is now the key driving force and enabler behind organisations, driving every aspect of business success form customer loyalty and employee engagement, to sales and revenue. Organisations should have a New Year’s resolution to rapidly respond to market trends, employee demands and financial pressures, accommodating a more flexible and fluid working environment. Many remain too bogged down in juggling and struggling with legacy IT systems to take advantage of new technologies now available and in the UK, there is still at least the perception that businesses are spending too much on maintaining old IT systems, while younger, more competitive organisations are embracing new technologies and overtaking older, established players.

  1. We need to rethink our skills

Despite skills being top of the agenda for years, the workforce is still facing a skills gap - many employees find themselves working in organisations with old fashioned rigid structures where they can’t collaborate instantly, they can’t access the applications they want on any device, and they can’t move at the speed they need to. One way you could look at this is: we have digital talent, stuck in an analogue world.

When recruiting young talent, business leaders always look for candidates with digital skills and fresh perspectives on how to do business. However, we need to start thinking more broadly and look at the skills we already have; the digital drive isn’t just relevant for new recruits. Our research found that older generations of the workforce are also pursuing technical digital skills - 35 per cent of 45-54 year olds, and 23 per cent of over 55s are seeking advice on designing and building mobile applications.

This year, organisations need to upskill across the board - only then will businesses be able to fully utilise their talent and realise its potential for business. Investing in digital talent can help them to innovate faster, improve a company’s competitive edge, and increase revenue – all of which impacts on the bottom line.

Ultimately, investment in this area has the potential to drive the UK’s economic growth and productivity.

Image source: Shutterstock/Makistock