IT in 2011: My Predictions
As we enter 2011, businesses are busily refining strategies for harnessing and leveraging IT in the year ahead and beyond. It’s crystal ball time once again, so based on countless interactions with CIOs, industry analysts, vendor executives and other thought leaders over the course of the past year, here are my predictions for the top trends that will impact IT in 2011.
The Need for Speed is Relentless: For IT departments, the need for speed comes in two flavors: How fast can we provision IT infrastructure to process a given workload? And, how fast can we process the workload itself and turn data into actionable information? Cloud computing affects speed of provisioning by enabling rapid deployment of certain application services via the Software as a Service (SaaS) model. Speed does not kill, slow kills. Here is what I mean by that - businesses are going to survive and thrive because their IT infrastructure is fast and agile.
Fabric-based Infrastructure Gains Traction: Converged data and storage network fabrics will move from prototype to deployment as the Data Center Bridging (DCB) standards become well understood and iSCSI and FCoE networks move into the mainstream. Fabric-based infrastructure that abstracts processors, network bandwidth and storage into federated pools of easily deployable IT infrastructure will move from lab trials to mainstream deployment.
Virtualization Deployed for Production Workloads: A recent IDC survey found that customers are looking to not only increase the use of virtual servers, but also to increase the number of virtual machines per physical server. IDC forecasts that virtualized server shipments will grow at twice the rate of the entire server market through 2014. I predict that a significant part of this growth is going to come from virtual servers becoming a popular platform for mainstream applications. And, with solutions like IBM System Networking’s VMready, data center networks that tie together servers running these mainstream applications can now be made Virtual Machine-aware, thus removing a critical barrier that prevented enterprises from not being able to virtualize their mainstream applications.
Time Sharing at a Bureau is Back in Fashion: The tremendous interest in cloud computing is warranted because of the cloud’s promise of greater ROI and improved efficiency. SaaS-based application delivery will continue to gain in popularity in 2011 as a ready means of cost reduction, and simplicity. It’s a proven model, people….remember the 80s when enterprises shared CPU cycles on a large mainframe in a data processing bureau? Driven by privacy and regulatory concerns surrounding mission-critical data and customer information, enterprises will turn to the hybrid cloud model, deploying private clouds for essential information and using hosted and/or public clouds for less-critical data and applications, where the cloud can provide cost reduction and capacity on demand.
The Data Center Becomes Ever More Strategic: With less-essential workloads offloaded to the cloud, the in-house data center will become a highly leveraged business asset. The data center will operate a mix of dedicated processing, virtual servers and private cloud computing, with each considered a strategic IT asset. The in-house data center will be looked to for the advantages of what I have termed “rackonomics” for the greater ROI and improved efficiencies that come from deploying standardized racks of compute, storage and networking infrastructure, and will also be valued for what others have termed “cloudonomics” and “convergonomics.” Regardless of the economic model, for many industries and IT tasks, the in-house data center will remain a strategic business asset.
Security and Mobility will Redefine the Data Center Edge: Enterprises and their customers are using smart devices, such as iPads and smart phones to access corporate applications, in record numbers. This ubiquitous use of mobile computing will require ever greater amounts of bandwidth and place greater demands on the network, both in terms of security and mobility.
2011 is the Year of Smarter Systems: A smarter system is one that is optimized for a given workload and one where all the essential elements – compute, storage, software, and the network that connects all these pieces together is pre-packaged in a rack or multiple racks ready-to-use. All the customer needs to do is plug this system into an electrical outlet and start using it….just like we use our laptops today.
Real-Time Analytics Drive Business Decision Making: More powerful computers and faster networks will enable businesses to make more-informed decisions. It will become increasingly possible to run predictive simulations and real-time business analytics that forecast futures, rather than to simply provide after-the-fact analysis, which promises significant breakthroughs in business results. For example, GM is using high-powered IBM computers to simulate crashes and find ways to both prevent crashes and improve passenger safety when collisions/accidents occur.
Data Centers Will Become the Most Expensive Piece of Real Estate Anywhere in the World: With so much capital being invested in IT infrastructure, the “occupancy rate” of the data center will remain a key concern. Blade servers will increasingly give IT departments the flexibility they need to add incremental compute power and enable higher utilization in the data center. Blade server architectures will continue to gain in acceptance and market share in 2011. I also expect a new wave of blade center technology innovations to take hold in the latter part of 2011.
All-in-all, 2011 is most certainly going to be the year of Information Technology and a very promising one at that.