As companies wrap up 2015 and begin to put their strategic plans in place to make 2016 a successful year, I am beginning to see some trends that have become universal across many of the verticals I work with at T5. Interestingly, most of these trends are not new, but instead are the result of emerging technologies that are becoming more widely embraced. A few of the more interesting trends I’ve witnessed include:
1. Outsourcing – Whether it’s complete IT outsourcing or moving a general application such as email to the Cloud, companies are eager to let go of tasks that are not part of actively serving their customers. If it is not vital to their core competency, companies are evaluating if it makes sense to do it themselves or allow a 3rd party to perform the service for them. Think about it: If another party can do it better, faster, or cheaper than your company, why would you perform the service yourself?
Among the biggest decisions companies are facing today is whether or not it makes sense to build, maintain & staff an internal data center. Among the questions they’re asking themselves are:
a) Will our data center be able to handle our needs for power, space and cooling for the next 5-10 years?
b) Do we have the staff that can adequately handle all the critical facilities management 7X24X365?
c)Are we able to get the managed services we need to support our end users?
2. Moving applications to the “cloud” – Much like outsourcing in general, customers are determining that it might not make sense to invest in critical infrastructure to roll out new applications. Many are seeing the advantages of scaling up or down as applications are in demand or no longer needed. Paying for what they use is becoming more commonplace not only in IT, but also in Marketing, Sales, & HR. Many of today’s applications are built specifically for the cloud and have had a dramatic impact on these core business functions. Among those are Salesforce.com, Office 365 & Concur along with thousands of others that are rapidly changing the way businesses are run.
3. Virtualization/Consolidation – We’ve seen many customers significantly shrink their IT footprint. What may have been 10 cabinets just a few years ago may now be just 5 cabinets or even less. What may have been 100 servers may now be virtualized into 10 servers. This trend will continue. What we’re seeing here is also a trend to evaluate and use other platforms other than VMware. Microsoft’s Hyper V and other Open Source virtualization tools are becoming increasingly more popular. The obvious reasons are price and compatibility with the Microsoft applications.
4. Increase in bandwidth speeds – Connectivity to IaaS, PaaS, SaaS, internal applications and storage/databases is driving the need for bandwidth. We’re seeing companies outgrow their bandwidth needs many times by a factor of 10. Software defined networking is allowing companies to scale-up and scale down their connectivity to pre-defined connections (such as to cloud services like AWS or Microsoft Azure). High bandwidth fiber is now more important than ever for companies to keep up with the pace of modern business.
5. Significant increase in the amount of storage – Physically managing storage and the cost of managing that storage are among the biggest concerns IT departments face. Due to changing business and compliance statndards, “Old data” is no longer just deleted. It now becomes part of trending / predictive analytics programs, archival, business intelligence & Big Data initiatives. There is value in that “old data”. While companies now have tools to limit the amount of copies of data they have, the amount of data each company is producing, continues to grow exponentially. Images and video are now considered key documents and require significantly more storage capacity. A company today must come up with a data strategy to keep from getting overwhelmed by the needs of its users. We’re seeing more partners in the “Structured Data Management” field to specifically help customers better understand and manage their data growth.
Bottom line: While these trends may not be new, they are all a result of the continued blurring of lines between and within businesses and their employees, customers, partners, vendors, suppliers, distributors, manufacturers and every other segment that touches the products and services we consume every day. At T5, these are some of the concerns we’re helping our customers solve today so that they can grow their business through 2016 and beyond. Happy New Year to all, and here’s to a prosperous, successful and peaceful year ahead.