It’s time to take a look on what we have seen in 2011 and try to figure out the evolution of next year’s IT infrastructure market.
2011 was very intense but I’m sure 2012 will bring us more and more exciting technologies, products and, why not, new interesting arguments to debate! Here are my thoughts:
I can’t start to write a post about the future without including something on cloud. Cloud computing is starting to be adopted widely (in Europe too), or at least the general interest in it is growing: Professionals (also hesitant VARs and System Integrators) are understanding how to do business with it and, some more than others are seriously beginning to deal with it as well.
It’s not very clear which cloud model will be chosen by European enterprises (sometimes it isn’t really cloud at all!) but there is a lot of movements on the scene and medium enterprises are beginning to look at it more seriously.
Local cloud providers are multiplying like rabbits and big American ones are establishing new bases (and Datacenter) here in Europe: the market will be more diversified soon!
I’m seeing more and more Italian medium sized companies using the “if I can’t virtualize this, I can’t adopt it” approach. This is one of the first steps towards the cloud. The next steps will be implementation of chargeback, orchestration tools and implementation of more commoditized infrastructures.
It’s more than a prediction it’s a fact: the number of mobile internet connected devices are growing! (nowadays we already have between 2 and 3 devices per person).
Big European 4G networks are coming to us. Applications and other different ways to access enterprise data are growing. We’ve rapidly moved from few tablets, that some executives underhandedly brought to their companies, to a large scale adoption for some corporate departments in less than a year! And now they’ve to be supported and maintained!
In the same way applications are
struggling to evolve evolving to support more interfaces, data are more and more centralized (“cloudized”?!) to be accessed from everywhere.
Cloud + Mobile = more bandwidth problems. No doubts that if bandwidth is a concern for the big providers it will be even bigger for enterprises! And the problem is getting bigger in countries like italy where “digital divide” has a concrete meaning. With this ongoing economic recession it will be hard to see investments (at least in Italy) on high bandwidth enterprise and residential connectivity. Well, we know that there are interesting solutions about bandwidth optimization/acceleration and many enterprises are looking at these products in deep. Probably, BlueCoat acquisition is the clue of what I’m saying.
Next generation security
Back again to the Cloud+Mobile paradigm: it’s also a big security threat! Perimeter and traditional PC security are obsolete arguments, or at least they are limited when you think about new needs. How many IT managers are seriously thinking about it? it is already a problem but few of them are thinking about changing their security architecture: last week, I asked this question to 30 IT execs of mid-sized Italian companies and only 2 of them are exploring new options!
No more boundaries, no more Microsoft Windows operating systems, no more ordinary protection systems (i.e: you can’t install a traditional antivirus solution on your cell phone because it drains batteries and uses 50% of your CPU).
Security needs to be rethought in function of user profiles/identity on their activities and/on protected resources, sometimes you need to know and protect how data are moved… in a few words not the traditional firewall you are used to think about.
Scaleout is at the base of the next generation enterprise architectures. New storages, networking, servers and software are all designed to work this way on commodity hardware or on virtualized appliances. Horizontal scalability, and a lot of software that manages data movements/protection resiliency and high availability: this is the recipe. The target is to have products that can start very small with the ability to grow without practical limits. These are very “democratic” products with the same features, ease of use and architecture (from the SMB to the large enterprise).
Doubts on that? Ethernet, ethernet, ethernet everywhere. Actually, not in the CISCO way: FCoE is struggling while iSCSI and NFS are gaining a lot of attention from enterprises. TCP/IP wins: maturity and ease of use are the major points but also there is the fact that FCoE is not mature/standard enough. Companies are trying to avoid every form of lock-in.
And if I try to come back to the scale out architectures above: last generation iSCSI and NFS protocols are way better than FCoE for scale-out. I’m sure FCoE will have its space in the Enterprise but I’m pretty sure that it won’t be the primary choice for many customers in 2012.
Flash and efficiency
SSDs and PCI flash memory cards are ready for prime time because the technologies and the software on top of them are more ready to take maximum advantage of this technology! Inline Deduplication and compression coupled with wide striping, thin provisioning and pointer based snapshot are the foundation of all next generation enterprise storage arrays. SSDs are still expensive but now the resource utilization is maximized. On the other hand PCI cards into the servers are a true benefit to optimize access to hottest/local data (i.e. used as big persistent caching tools)… especially in the scale out architectures. Both Storage and Servers vendors are working hard on new and more integrated ways to use flash: next year we will see big news on this topic.
Economic recession or not, data will not stop growing and no one here is saying the contrary. Actually, we will produce more data than ever and we will need to manage, archive and backup them in some way!
Many end users are trying to better understand how their data are growing and how to manage the different kinds of data.
I’m still seeing many end users struggling with excel files to manage their capacity plans. Many of them are also finding excuses for poor resources utilization… I’m seeing many customers dealing with “unexpected capacity needs due to unplanned something” and it occurs more and more than in the past. Are your capacity planning tools outdated? Are you dealing with the right parameters? Are you choosing the right media for you storage? Can you move some data to the cloud? These are the questions and I bet that many answers will come in 2012 from technologies like cloud and object storage.
This is more a hope than a prediction. Filesystem limits, difficult to find contents, traditional cost storage are similar problems to the ones i described in the paragraph above.
Object storage could be a perfect solution for many of these users but, in many cases, it has a cost in terms of rethinking how to deal with your stored data. There are solutions to migrate from traditional unstructured data repositories (aka. file servers) to object storage systems. The problem is that they only help to do the first step. The second, and most important (difficult) one is to redesign the architecture (and yes, this is the real snag to the adoption of this technology).
Object storage could play an important key role in private cloud projects, like Amazon for public cloud storage. 2012 will show us if enterprises will adopt more public/private object storage to cut the costs or if they’ll go once again for simple, but costly, ordinary storage.
When I started this post I didn’t mean to talk about Big Data. However, some days ago I wrote an article on my Italian personal blog and it’s incredible how many people are interested in this topic (and here I mean not only big enterprises). Big Data is having a great moment: Enterprises/vendors are truly engaged in finding new solutions to transform huge quantities of unstructured data blobs into valuable informations for business. In this experience driven age it’s becoming very important to have the ability to find trends and users/customers needs before the competition… Big data is not for everyone but I’m sure that the 2012 development will start to address a wider range of enterprises, not only the ginormic ones.
I’ve said a lot of different things and this is my point of view about 2012 (hoping that it won’t be the last one): I tried to connect many dots to sketch out the IT infrastructure picture from my little observatory. Please, don’t hesitate to add your thoughts and comment on it!
Last but not least, Predict IT future is a very tricky sport and many times we can laugh of last years prediction from the “best” analysts!
An example? If you have some time, try to search Google for 2011 Analysts predictions: VDI was one of the most discussed topics, where is VDI today?