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Infrastructure and operations are becoming increasingly involved in unprecedented areas of today’s enterprise — no longer to solely deliver engineering and operations, but also products and services that support and enable overall business strategy.
How can I&O leaders use capabilities like artificial intelligence (AI), network automation or edge computing to support rapidly growing infrastructures and accomplish business needs?
According to analysts at Gartner Inc., the following 10 technologies and trends will be key to support digital I&O this year.
1. Serverless Computing
Serverless computing is an emerging software architecture pattern that promises to eliminate the need for infrastructure provisioning and management. I&O leaders need to adopt an application-centric approach to serverless computing rather than physical infrastructures, analysts say.
“The phrase ‘serverless’ is somewhat of a misnomer,” said Ross Winser, senior research director at Gartner. “The truth is that servers still exist, but the service provider is responsible for all the underlying resources involved in provisioning and scaling a runtime environment, resulting in appealing agility.”
Serverless does not replace containers or virtual machines, so it’s critical to learn how best and where to use the technology, Winser says.
2. AI Impacts
In terms of the value, AI is climbing the ranks for I&O leaders who need to manage growing infrastructures without being able to grow their staff.
AI has the potential to be organizationally transformational and is at the core of digital business — the impacts of which are already being felt within organizations. According to Gartner, global AI-derived business value will reach nearly $3.9tr by 2022.
3. Network Agility
The network underpins everything IT does — cloud services, internet of things (IoT), edge services — and will continue to do so moving forward.
This year and beyond, I&O leaders will focus more on how to help their teams increase speed of network operations to meet demand.
“Part of the answer is building network agility that relies on automation and analytics, and addressing the real skills shift needed to succeed,” Winser said.
The demands on the network are set to grow with the advent of 5G, increasing cloud maturity, and the explosion in numbers of IoT devices, he said.
4. Death of the Data Center
As businesses continue moving workloads to colocation, hosting and the cloud, Gartner predicts that 80 percent of enterprises will migrate entirely away from on-premises data centers by 2025 — leading them to shut down their traditional data centers.
“I&O leaders must identify whether there are truly strategic reasons to persist with on-premises needs, especially when they consider the significant amount of investment involved is often amortized over many years,” Winser said.
5. Edge Computing
IoT and immersive technologies will drive more information processing to “the edge” — redefining and reshaping what I&O leaders will need to deploy and manage.
The edge is the physical location where things and people connect with the networked digital world, and infrastructure will increasingly reach out to the edge. Edge computing is a part of a distributed computing topology where information processing is located close to the edge, which is where things and people produce or consume that information.
“This is another trend that does not replace the cloud, but augments it,” Winser said. “The critical time frame for organizations to adopt this trend is between 2020 and 2023.”
6. Digital Diversity Management
Digital diversity management is not about people, but rather the discovery and maintenance of assets in any given modern digital enterprise.
“There has been huge growth in the range and quantity of “things” that I&O is expected to know about, be supporting and be managing,” Winser said. “Traditional asset management is still important, but we’re moving into the realms of involvement with new assets that might have direct effects on the finances, health and welfare of the organization’s customers.”
7. New Roles Within I&O
I&O leaders find that staffing justifications require resolving complex relationships between costs, activities and customer quality expectations. Explaining I&O staffing requirements to IT and business leaders in terms of business value by connecting staffing levels to business performance and strategic objectives is a must in today’s modern digital enterprise.
“For instance, IT is increasingly taking on the role of supporting cloud services in terms of aggregation, customization, integration and governance. A big challenge with cloud services is keeping costs under control, and the business expects I&O to be doing just that. Rather than focusing solely on engineering and operations, I&O must develop the capabilities needed to broker services; these will require different roles to the I&O of old,” Winser said. The critical time frame for this trend starts immediately in 2019.
8. Denial of Software as a Service (SaaS)
In 2019 and beyond, SaaS — software that is owned, delivered and managed remotely by one or more providers — will have a big impact on how organizations look at infrastructure delivery strategies moving forward. But most I&O leaders are still focused on infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS) solutions, analysts say.
“SaaS itself is becoming a level of complexity that IT shops aren’t yet coping with as they should,” Winser said. “The shift to SaaS must be accompanied with I&O support, all the way from ensuring visibility is maintained of what is in use, through to supporting compliance requirements and enterprise integration needs.”
9. Talent Management
Historically, IT staff have been vertically organized based around the technology they managed. As infrastructures go digital, however, there becomes a need for people to expand skill sets, practices and procedures to accommodate more hybrid operations in their business.
“Talent is the critical ingredient for a modern, high-performing technology organization, and great talent is in high demand,” Winser said. “People that show versatility and adaptability are quickly becoming must-haves.”
10. Global Infrastructure Enablement
Despite few infrastructures being truly “global” in nature, organizations must still prepare for the notion of “infrastructure everywhere” — and within the constraints of tight budgets and cost pressures.
I&O leaders must look hard at their existing partners and raise the bar of expectation, Gartner says.
“Can they clearly identify the value the partner will bring to them in the context of global infrastructure? Are they unlocking all the value from recent investments their partners have been making?” Winser said. “There will be no time for ‘B-team’ partners in 2019 and beyond.”
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