Another year has drawn to a close. We often hear the phrase, “Where does the time go?” when we look back on the year that’s gone. And why wouldn’t we? The rapid changes across the technology industry certainly makes us feel that time is going faster as every year passes, and 2016 was no different. Major security breaches, the growing need for STEM skills, the continuing dominance of hybrid IT and the increasing automation of systems made 2016 a challenging year for IT specialists and end users alike. Taking all this information on board, IT managers will now be finishing their strategy for the year ahead and looking to the future. Every year is becoming harder to predict, so managers are looking to take calculated gambles. We have come up with our top five predictions for 2017 to make sure the dice you roll will help you hit the IT jackpot.
1. Move Over SaaS: FaaS Gains Speed
2017 will see a new development in cloud computing: functions as a service (FaaS). This new cloud-computing category allows customers to develop, run and manage application functions without the headache of architecting and overseeing the back-end infrastructure. It will allow IT professionals to develop programs that perform specific tasks without the barriers that are currently in place. The rise of a new chapter in cloud computing signals the continuing maturity of the cloud market from its roots as infrastructure as a service (IaaS) to PaaS, SaaS, FaaS and beyond.
We predict that in 2017, more-specialized services (such as FaaS) will continue to proliferate given the targeted efficiency that leads to both a better experience and an improved pricing structure. The ability to run nearly any type of application or function, with zero infrastructure administration on the IT professional’s behalf, is tremendously appealing, and new services will likely focus on these benefits.
2. To Blockchain or Not to Blockchain
Blockchain technologies—peer-to-peer ledger technologies that began with Bitcoin—have been on the minds of financial institutions for a number of years, but in 2016, the technology expanded beyond the bounds of finance. At a time when companies are finding it difficult to deal with data management and security, blockchain provides a seemingly perfect solution. Supply-chain applications, for example, are now being tested and implemented to ensure the safety, security and integrity of the information associated with these processes.
In 2016, a multitude of companies—banks in particular—began to test blockchain technology in labs, yet few are using it in practice. One of the roadblocks is agreeing on a common protocol, which has yet to take place. The other, of course, stems from a lack of proven security practices, especially for financial organizations.
We predict that in 2017 that blockchain technology will gain steam as a buzzword and much more research will go into it, although it’s unlikely that any effective new capabilities can be readily implemented. But 2018 will prove to be much more action packed in terms of companies figuring out how to take advantage of data-ledger technology to solve their data-management problems.
3. Be Aware of the “New” Security Experts
Data breaches are not a new phenomenon, and the topic will again be top of mind in 2017. Over the last year we have seen many stories of data breaches. Just this past month, it was announced that in 2014, Yahoo fell victim to the biggest data breach in history, losing nearly 500 million accounts’ worth of personal user data to attackers. This trend shows no sign of slowing.
We predict that in 2017, there will be exponential increases in both the volume and visibility of data breaches, particularly for large corporations. Simultaneously, this increase in data breaches will force organizations to weigh the implications of potential data loss against the expense of hiring security experts. In many cases, businesses in 2017 will choose to take a calculated risk about what they can “afford to lose” rather than what it costs to prevent data loss entirely. This response will be especially true in the case of ransomware attacks, for which it’s nearly impossible to guarantee that hackers won’t leak or reveal stolen data, even after receiving the ransom payment.
Finally, corporations and IT professionals must become hyperaware of attackers’ increased ability to take advantage of automation. The speed and ease with which an automated network breach can take place is new and will ultimately aid in making corporate data breaches even more commonplace in 2017.
4. Shifting IT Roles
As traditional, siloed IT roles—network administrators, storage administrators, systems administrators, database administrators and more—continue to include new responsibilities, such as working with cloud-service providers in hybrid environments; implementing containers, microservices and other new technology; and acting as an IT liaison to business leaders, 2017 signals the return of the age of education and certification.
The ability to quickly learn new IT concepts and skills will be more important than being an expert in any one technology. Although siloed experts who managed disparate parts of the infrastructure and application stack played a fundamental role in the traditional IT department, the modern data center is more interconnected than ever. As a result, IT generalists—who know a little bit about everything, have a holistic understanding of the application stack and can make quick, informed decisions about new technology—will be particularly successful in 2017 and beyond.
5. Hybrid IT: Not Just a Concept, but a Reality
There’s no doubt that hybrid IT is the reality for most organizations today and in the foreseeable future. And not only that, the center of technology is becoming increasingly hybrid. IT professionals must start thinking about management in a hybrid context. But what does it actually look like in practice?
In 2017, IT and business leaders will decide on specific solutions as they implement hybrid IT. For example, they may choose to Office 365 and Skype for Business while hosting the identity-management solution Active Directory Federated Services on premises. Alternatively, the cloud has proven to be the best platform for virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), delivering organizations the required flexibility and elasticity to provision and deprovision virtual desktops in bulk. By moving this workload to the cloud, an organization can relieve its IT professionals of the need to manage that infrastructure directly and refocus their efforts on other projects.
Over the next several years, IT departments must exercise their growing responsibility to act as a technology liaison for business management by staying informed and making smart decisions when it comes to cloud, even if the decision is to do nothing in the near future because there is no immediate need for change. The key is to build a hybrid-IT roadmap that integrates cloud adoption on a per-workload and per-application basis to achieve a more agile, available, scalable and efficient data center.
About the Author
Leon Adato is a SolarWinds Head Geek and long-time IT systems management and monitoring expert.