Gartner highlighted the key technologies and trends that infrastructure and operations (I&O) leaders must start preparing for to support digital infrastructure in 2019.
“More than ever, I&O is becoming increasingly involved in unprecedented areas of the modern day enterprise. The focus of I&O leaders is no longer to solely deliver engineering and operations, but instead deliver products and services that support and enable an organization’s business strategy,” said Ross Winser, Senior Director, Analyst at Gartner. “The question is already becoming ‘How can we use capabilities like artificial intelligence (AI), network automation or edge computing to support rapidly growing infrastructures and accomplish business needs?’”
During his presentation, Mr. Winser encouraged I&O leaders to prepare for the impacts of 10 key technologies and trends to support digital infrastructure in 2019. They are:
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, managing APIs and SLAs, rather than physical infrastructures. “The phrase ‘serverless’ is somewhat of a misnomer,” noted Mr. Winser. “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 VMs, so it’s critical to learn how best and where to use the technology. “Developing support and management capabilities within I&O teams must be a focus as more than 20 percent of global enterprises will have deployed serverless computing technologies by 2020, which is an increase from less than 5 percent today,” added Mr. Winser.
AI is climbing up the ranks in terms of the value it will serve 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 $3.9 trillion by 2022.
Network agility (or lack of?)
The network underpins everything IT does — cloud services, Internet of Things (IoT), edge services — and will continue to do so moving forward.
“Teams have been under pressure to ensure network availability is high and as such the team culture is often to limit change, yet all around the network team the demands for agility have increased,” said Mr. Winser. The focus for 2019 and beyond must move to how I&O leaders can help their teams increase the pace 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,” said Mr. Winser.
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. “These are just a few of the pressures leaders should anticipate — so the critical time frame to deal with this challenge is now,” said Mr. Winser.
Death of the data center
Gartner predicts that by 2025, 80 percent of enterprises will migrate entirely away from on-premises data centers with the current trend of moving workloads to colocation, hosting and the cloud leading them to shut down their traditional data center.
“I&O leaders must prepare to place workloads based on business needs, not constrained by physical location. From colocation through to public cloud — plenty of alternatives to on-premises data centers exist. 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,” said Mr. Winser. Preparations must begin now, as the critical time frame for this is 2021 to 2025.
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. It touches on the laws of physics, economy and land, all of which are contributing factors to how and when to use edge.
“This is another trend that does not replace the cloud, but augments it,” said Mr. Winser. “The critical time frame for organizations to adopt this trend is between 2020 and 2023.”
Digital diversity management
Digital diversity management is not about people, but rather about the discovery and maintenance of assets that are “out there” 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,” said Mr. Winser. “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.” Preparing I&O is vital now before the critical time frame of 2020 to 2025.
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,” said Mr. Winser. The critical time frame for this trend starts immediately in 2019.
SaaS is software that is owned, delivered and managed remotely by one or more providers. The provider delivers software based on one set of common code and data definitions that is consumed in a one-to-many model by all contracted customers at any time on a pay-for-use basis or as a subscription based on use metrics.
In 2019 and beyond, SaaS will have a big impact on how organizations look at infrastructure delivery strategies moving forward. However, most I&O leaders are still focused on infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS) solutions. “SaaS itself is becoming a level of complexity that IT shops aren’t yet coping with as they should. 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. Leaders must start this now as the pressure will be on through 2021 and beyond,” said Mr. Winser.
Talent management becomes critical
Historically, IT staff have been vertically organized based around the technology stack they managed. As infrastructures go digital, there becomes a need for people to work horizontally across stacks in order to identify and remediate technology work stoppages in their business. Expanding I&O skill sets, practices and procedures to accommodate hybrid operations is of the utmost importance in 2019 and beyond. “In short, talent is the critical ingredient for a modern, high-performing technology organization, and great talent is in high demand. People that show versatility and adaptability are quickly becoming must-haves, particularly in hybrid environments,” said Mr. Winser.
Global infrastructure enablement
Despite few infrastructures being truly “global” in nature, organizations must still prepare for the notion of “infrastructure everywhere.” While doing so, I&O leaders must work within the constraints of tight budgets and cost pressures.
One way to tackle this challenge is to wisely choose the network of partners needed for global success. “I&O leaders must look hard at their existing partners and raise the bar of expectation. 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?” said Mr. Winser. “There will be no time for ‘B-team’ partners in 2019 and beyond — I&O leaders must be on top of this trend between 2020 and 2023.”