At InfoVision, staying ahead of the curve when it comes to the evolution of enterprise IT is just business as usual. That’s because we have to be prepared for the challenges our clients face even before they know they’re facing them – or we wouldn’t be able to deliver the depth of technology, industry expertise, and business knowledge that’s made us a global leader in our field.
We don’t have a crystal ball, just the a fantastic team of professionals who are constantly reading the latest research from the analyst firms, talking to our customers, and tracking the myriad factors that affect how companies manage data and deliver mission critical services across the enterprise. But every now and again, it’s time to predict the future, so here’s our list of the five trends that will cause the most disruption, require the most investment, and offer management the greatest reward during 2013.
#1: Bigger Data
For as long as there have been corporate data centers, it’s been a fact that data growth is the one constant. As 2012 winds down, big data continues to get bigger – and that isn’t likely to change.
We expect that storage management projects will assume a greater priority for enterprise IT during 2013. Why? Because storage usage and management as a means to cut floor space requirements and energy usage, improve compliance, and manage costs aren’t options for most companies.
We think that unstructured data – always the hardest to manage from a tool standpoint – will account for most of the data growth over the next few years. This means that we expect to see more companies put a priority on in-line deduplication, automated data tiering to improve efficiency, and flash or SSD drives for high-end performance.
Luckily, storage pricing continues to improve, with Gartner reporting that it’s dropped from $7,870 per gigabyte in 1997 to just $1.25 per gigabyte in 2012. But the skilled personnel and who can manage these projects and initiatives will continue to be hard to find and retain, leading to continued outsourcing of strategic resources.
#2 Hybrid Clouds
Vendors have gotten away with labelling old technologies and offerings as “cloud computing” services – but enterprise IT caught on, and isn’t buying into the relabelled products. This means that vendors have had to make revolutionary changes in the way solutions are designed, built, delivered, sourced, managed and (perhaps most importantly) priced.
Elasticity and scalability are the primary reasons that enterprise data centers are looking to hybrid clouds for 2013. We believe that a company may be best served with hybrid cloud services composed of services that offer the capacity and capability that companies need on demand, and that the IT executives will be making cloud computing decisions from the perspective of how critical an application is, security, and scalability – not simply to expand data center capacity.
We’re already seeing clients who are migrating some critical work off-site, while freeing up old corporate data center space for additional non-critical work or for a slow, in-place, retrofit project – and we expect to see that trend continue in 2013.
#3 User Expectations
Business users expect the same level of instant gratification and support as they experience with consumer-based applications and services – and the demand for “customer satisfaction” has far outstripped the ability of many IT support organizations to supply it.
Satisfying business users today requires more than investing in service desk skills and attitudes, but that’s where it has to start. It also means involving business users in the process of delivering applications and services that meet their goals and objectives – while demonstrating both IT’s commitment to “customer satisfaction” as well as traditional training, procedures, security, knowledge management and scripts.
Regulatory compliance is an area where user expectations and corporate priorities may not match. IT is at the center of growing scrutiny from an alphabet-soup list of state, national, and international regulatory agencies and this continues to be an area where a holistic approach requires highly trained personnel.
#4 Client Server
The client server world has become a free for all, where anything goes. The days when most users relied on PCs where the operating system and most applications were resident on the desktop are over. Today, virtualization and universal connectivity means that it isn’t just large and complex applications that are resident on remote servers.
Now, the operating system and the application can be executed on the PC or a server, or just streamed to a device when needed. One size no longer fits all.
The days when a new release of the Windows operating system meant gearing up for broad scale deployment may be gone, too. Gartner says that 90% of U.S. enterprises will bypass broad scale Windows 8 deployments during 2013, focusing instead on deploying and supporting the new OS only on specific platforms, like mobile and tablets.
Of course, few IT departments support just one OS – many of our clients support four or five, as iPads, smartphones, virtual desktops, and a wide array of other devices have become part of the corporate network as users demanded (and got) anytime, anywhere, any device access to applications and data.
This evolution in client server computing has fundamentally changed enterprise IT, and that change is likely to accelerate in the coming months.
#5 Virtual Appliances
Vendors continue to introduce new appliances because they are a rare chance for vendors to gain more control of the solution stack, and earn higher margins in the sale.
IT organizations view appliances as a way to get a hands-off solution to application and functional requirements.
Recently, there’s been a lot in the media about how virtual appliances will kill the market for hardware-based appliances. It’s true that the popularity of virtual appliances is exploring, because they allow server vendors to offer a solution stack in a controlled environment without the need to provide any actual hardware.
But we don’t believe that the growth in virtual appliances will kill physical appliances. Issues like physical security, specialized hardware requirements, and the specialized ecosystems in legacy data centers will continue to drive physical appliance sales.
As the number of appliances in the enterprise proliferates, so does the complexity and management burden required to ensure performance metrics are met. In fact, it’s the continued increase in IT complexity that may be the biggest issue that keeps CIOs up at night during 2013.
At InfoVision, we’re ready for the changes that lie ahead in 2013. Regardless of the challenges you face, contact us today to see how we can help you solve them.