What changes will have the biggest impact on your IT in the next three years?

Cloud, Analytics, Politics all in play


Published/updated: November 2015

By Tony Lock

The rate of change in IT and business has never been more rapid. Standing still with respect to how your organisation uses IT is not an option. But keeping track of advances in technology and the new solutions becoming available in the market place isn’t always that easy, and few IT professionals have the time or resources to investigate everything. Helping your organisation change at the same time simply heaps on the pressure.

In a recent study we asked participants “Which technology or business related changes will impact the way you develop and operate your IT infrastructure over the coming 3 years?”. Given the diverse nature of respondents a variety of significant changes were identified, not all of them technology advances. Some of the free text answers expose both how quickly certain solutions, such as ‘Cloud’, are moving into the mainstream, as well as throwing a light on the people and politics side of things.

Drivers of change

The rate at which businesses are evolving is expressed very clearly in the quotes, and not only from an internal perspective but among the customer base as well. One respondent, for example, highlighted the following as having the biggest impact:

“The pace of change of our customer base in adopting new technologies.”

The expectation of change is clear, but the usual suspects of regulation and external mandates are also active in the evolution of business and IT. Factors here expected to impact the infrastructure include:

“Most changes are driven by Government Policy and vendor software requirements. Regulations about the location of data are very strict and require control over the location of that data”

“Government mandated changes”


Naturally IT has to react to these triggers, but what technologies are expected to have the biggest impacts going into the next three years?

Established technologies on the rise

Cloud

It will be no surprise that Cloud in all its forms, Public, Private and Hybrid are expected to have big impacts in the near future. Here are some of the developments called out:

“The availability and security of public cloud services”

“Hybrid cloud solutions”

“Mixing cloud and onsite security and information provision to end users.”

“Transition from traditional IT to a Cloud Services delivery model.”


Or as one respondent put it:

“cloud...Cloud...CLOUD”

SaaS cloud offerings are mentioned explicitly by a number of participants:

“Office 365 and other cloud computing initiatives”

“All about SaaS.”

“Moving from on premise exchange to hosted.”


However, not everyone thinks that Cloud is going to take over everything in IT:

“Funding streams - the Council I work for is Opex poor so this is hindering moving to subscription models such as the Cloud”

“Cloud is hot air and vapour. I don’t think a bullet proof automated private cloud will be available within 3 years.”


Perhaps the future is best summed up by the respondent who said that the biggest development would be:

“Service Brokerage”

The idea here is making sure everyone gets the services they need, whether built internally or taken from outside suppliers.

Mobility

Beyond cloud, another topic that comes through prominently is mobility, with the trends in home and personal use again being highlighted as a big factor, along with the emergence of a multi-device world:

“Evolution and adoption rates for mobile consumer tech.”

“Further proliferation of mobile devices and BYOD.”


Or neatly summarised, by one respondent who said that top of their list of factors driving new infrastructure requirements was:

“On the go Mobility”, “Mobile Devices” and “Mobile working”

Both Cloud and mobile bring with them added concerns around security, to add to the ever growing list of security challenges IT professionals face every day. Indeed, security comes through as both a concern and a likely initiator of change as regulations expand and as customer, client and supplier expectations around data privacy escalate:

“Security related issues are the key driver at this point.”

Security

But despite this increasing prominence, some respondents face challenges internally getting security to be a higher profile item, something we see reflected in many surveys:

“Increasing security threats. We currently have them low on the ’business’ priority list and this needs to change.”

“Implementation of some sort of inline threat management. Being located in Asia this is vitally important.”


Another comment also points out the need for much better testing of security solutions, and the need to automate testing in many areas of IT:

“The automation of systems to respond without IT admin input utilising predefined policies will become more important. The ability to test DR and Security Incident response scenarios is something we need to do but we do not have budget available today. Hopefully new offerings will simplify these tests and make them economically sustainable.”

New tech beginning to gain ground

Beyond the now well established areas of cloud, mobility and security, a few new faces also showed up as being expected to have an important impact in the next three years. Most prominent of these is the area of ‘big data’ and analytics:

“Complex user and business unit data analysis requirements will need much better data and process organisation”

The Internet of Things (IoT), even though it is still early days in its own hype cycle, had an honourable mention especially in respect to specific industry needs:

“IoT and M2M communications on the technical side. Growth and quality - drivers for the business”

“We’re a concert venue plus shops cafes and sports facilities and everything is becoming digitised - IoT and M2M communication”


Some infrastructure solutions were also commented on, with containerisation thought likely to have a major impact:

“Docker and containerisation built upon hybrid clouds and PaaS infrastructure”

But it is the many elements of “software defined” that is seen by several respondents as offering the greatest potential going forwards. Factors anticipated to have a positive impact on the infrastructure and IT delivery include:

“Software defined data centre / network / storage”

“Software defined everything and converged systems will affect us.”

“SDN is the biggest current driver in our environment”


But not everyone thinks it is just about technology changes:

“Hybrid cloud implementation and the need for greater business insight will drive integration to the heart of the strategic discussion.”

However, for some respondents the likely track of IT developments is anything but obvious: “I’m not sure as we are a food based company, but you never know how we’ll expand over the next few years so we may need to look at IT infrastructure more”

“I don’t know, they haven’t come up yet. My crystal ball does not function properly.”

“Unknown weird changes are afoot.”


Some are positive that nothing in IT makes a difference:

“None that I can think of. If I go broke I won’t need anything, if I continue then I am well served as things are. I can’t see that any of it really goes any way to alleviating what it means to be human. The majority of stuff which is happening at the moment is technology in support of technology and is not really improving humanity.”

But whatever happens, changing IT is not going to be easy. As one respondent put things very succinctly:

“We have a lot of work to do just to catch up, but getting the investment is hard.”

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