As organizations strive to align IT and operational technology to drive digital business innovations, infrastructure & operations (I&O) leaders should focus on 10 key technology trends to support these initiatives.
During the Gartner Data Center, Infrastructure & Operations Management Conference in Las Vegas, David Cappuccio, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner, says that these technology trends that impact I&O fall under three areas — strategic, tactical and organizational.
“These trends are tied to aspects of society and business, and all will have direct impacts on how IT delivers services to the business over the next five years,” says Cappuccio. “Unless IT leaders understand how these trends are emerging, and what cascading effects they will have on IT operations, the impact on strategy, planning and operations can be significant.”
Trend 1: Disappearing Data Centers
Gartner predicts that by 2020, more compute power will have been sold by infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS) cloud providers than sold and deployed into enterprise data centers. Most enterprises — unless very small — will continue to have an on-premises (or hosted) data center capability. However, with most compute power moving to IaaS providers, enterprises and vendors need to focus on managing and leveraging the hybrid combination of on-premises, off-premises, cloud and noncloud architectures.
Trend 2: Interconnect Fabrics
Data center interconnection fabric is poised to deliver on the promise of the data center as software-defined, dynamic and distributed. The ability to monitor, manage and distribute workloads dynamically, or to rapidly provision LAN and WAN services through an API, opens up a range of possibilities.
Trend 3: Containers, Microservices and Application Streams
Containers (e.g. Docker) and microservices are the new application platform for cloud development. Containers provide a convenient way to implement per-process isolation, which makes them well-suited for development of microservices, in which applications are constructed as a suite of small services that run as separate processes and communicate through lightweight network-based mechanisms. Microservices can be deployed and managed independently, and once implemented inside of containers, they have little direct interaction with the underlying OS.
Trend 4: Business-Driven IT
Recent Gartner surveys have shown that up to 29 percent of IT spend comes from business units rather than traditional IT, and this will increase over the next few years. This business-driven IT was often a means of getting around traditional slow-paced IT processes. However, in today’s world it is more often designed to provide technically savvy business people a means of implementing new ideas quickly, while adapting to, or entering, new markets as effortlessly as possible.
Astute IT leaders today recognize that business-driven IT has a real value to the enterprise, and that IT’s role should be to build relationships with key business stakeholders – thereby keeping central IT aware of new projects, and what their potential long term impacts will be on overall operations.
Trend 5: Data Center as a Service
IT leaders need to create a data center as a service (DCaaS) model, where the role of IT and the data center is to deliver the right service, at the right pace, from the right provider, at the right price. IT becomes a broker of services.
IT leaders can enable the use of cloud services across the business, but with a focus on picking the right service, at the right time, from the right provider, and in such a way that underlying IT service and support does not get compromised.
Trend 6: Stranded Capacity
Stranded capacity – things that are paid for, but not really used – can be found both in on-premise data centers and in the cloud. IT leaders should learn to focus not just on uptime and availability, but also on capacity, utilization and density. Fixing this can extend the life of an existing data center and reduce operating expenditures from providers.
Trend 7: IoT
The Internet of Things (IoT) will change how future data centers are designed and managed and how they evolve as massive volumes of devices stream data, constantly or periodically, to enterprises, government departments and agencies around the world. I&O should use an IoT architect who looks at the long term strategy for both IoT and the data center.
Trend 8: Remote Device (Thing) Management
A growing trend for many organizations with remote sites/offices is the need to manage remote assets centrally. This has taken on more importance as enterprises focus on micro-data center support for regional or remote sites, and the emerging role of edge computing environments for geo-specific compute requirements such as the IoT.
The rapid adoption of IoT solutions by business units has introduced a new type of asset – connect sensors. The sensor may need to have firmware updates, or periodic battery replacement, which would require a new level of detail and control within an asset tracking and management system.
Trend 9: Micro and Edge Computing Environments
Micro and edge computing executes real-time applications that require high-speed response at the nearer edge servers. The communication delay is shortened to a few milliseconds, rather than several hundred milliseconds. It offloads some of the computation-intensive processing on the user’s device to edge servers and makes application processing less dependent on the device’s capability.
Trend 10: New Roles in IT
As IT evolves to adopt these trends, some new positions will be required within the ranks of infrastructure and operations. First and foremost will be the IT cloud broker, responsible for monitoring/management of multiple cloud service providers.
Next will be the IoT architect, tasked with understanding the potential impact of multiple IoT systems on data centers. This architect will also be working with business units to insure their closed loop IoT solutions are either compatible with the central IoT architecture or that common protocols and data structures are used.
There will also be the need for an integration expert which may evolve into an integration team, responsible for insuring integration of new initiatives (e.g. cloud, edge computing, IoT, etc).