Prediction: The Biggest Surprises for IT in 2013

by Bill Kleyman
16 January 2013

It's already 2013 and already some fun and exciting technological announcements have been made. A 1TB USB flash drive has been built and there are already plans for even more cloud computing platforms. 2012 was a year full of virtualization, the true push for the cloud, and a lot of initiatives revolving around infrastructure efficiencies.

So what's 2013 going to bring? Let's find out!

  1. Much more cloud computing.
    When cloud computing started out – we had a platform that was built around the wide area network. From there, corporations would pass data over a public or private connection from one end-point to another. Now, we have public, private, hybrid, and community cloud platforms. What’s next? Personal, mobile, and the “everywhere” cloud. Many organizations are working hard to make cloud computing not only a corporate platform, but something that will work on an individual user basis. As more resources and bandwidth open up, there will be more focus on the cloud element.
    Remember one important point: It’s not always sunny in the cloud. Over the course of 2012, we saw several outages. For example, Amazon Web Services saw a few outages where companies like Instagram, Netflix and Pinterest were made business-ineffective because of the downtime. As more organizations place their environments into the cloud – they will have to build in appropriate redundancies as well. Furthermore, there are the compliance and security concerns. Right now, only a handful of data centers are able to host PCI-compliant equipment. As far as breaches are concerned – Dropbox is a perfect example of where cloud security can have its drawbacks.
    Still, working with a cloud computing platform will have its advantages. Look for more replication, distribution, accessibility, and DR projects to take place which directly revolve around cloud computing.
  2. Distributed data center management.
    The modern data center has really evolved. In 2012, we saw data centers become an even more integral part of every organization. In 2013, companies will continue to replicate, distribute, and optimize their IT systems across multiple data centers. Because of so many new moving parts, data center management will be huge in 2013. Major management vendors will strive to combine the software and hardware layers to create a single pane of glass for administrators. The idea will be to unify processes and make the management process more transparent.

    Along with that, better alerting and monitoring capabilities will be introduced in 2013. Virtualization, networking, storage, and other IT components are being directly tied into the data center environment. There are many tools on the market today which can manage individual components well – but not together. Look for products which will truly unify the entire data center infrastructure and the workloads that it supports.

  3. New types of virtualization.
    Indeed we will have even more types of virtualization technologies in 2013. Already we have server, application and desktop virtualization platforms. The latter of which has been gaining some momentum. Moving forward, we’re going to see more security, storage and even user virtualization. The general term around this type of IT push is software-defined technologies. Logical segmentation of a storage controller to create “virtual” independent units is a form of storage virtualization. Also, creating virtual firewalls to sit at various points within an organization is a great way to stay secure.

    Another big push will be around the user. User virtualization will take user settings, policies and even data and allow it all to travel with the user. This means hardware, software, and a complete device-agnostic environment. There will be a big focus on the end-user in 2013 and the devices that they use. Beyond the devices, there will be a direct focus on the experience and mobility of the session and workload accessed by the user.

  4. Next-generation security.
    I’m never a big fan of buzz words – however we do have to live with them. Next-generation security will see a big push in 2013. This means more virtualized security appliances, new types of monitoring engines, and even greater security around the cloud. Organizations are able to more logically segment their networks with advanced security appliances. The great part about this platform is that it doesn’t have to be physical. Beyond the new types of security devices available, new security mechanisms will see their rise in 2013.

    Tools like intrusion prevention/detection services (IPS/IDS) and data loss prevention (DLP) will all grow tremendously as more organization try to use the cloud as a powerful infrastructure platform. More information and more data will flow through a cloud model and therefore have to be secured. Another big push in 2013 will be the securing of mobile and BYOD devices. Look for new types of Mobile/Enterprise Device Management platforms which will not only manage non-corporate devices coming in – but also control the flow of data to these devices. The ability to interrogate devices based on patch level, OS, and even if it’s rooted will become the norm in 2013 as more users bring their own devices to work.

  5. Big data.
    In 2013, we will see a near explosion in the amount of data that both the private and public sectors will have to manage. To put this into perspective, in 2012, the Obama administration officially announced the Big Data Research and Development Initiative. The mission of the initiative is to examine how government can leverage big data and large data sets to help increase efficiency and potentially solve problems at the federal level. Whether it’s data correlation or quantifying data that’s been gathered, working with big data can be a challenge. For the US government, this program is composed of 84 different big data programs spread across six departments.

    In the public sector, big data has been playing an equally growing role. To give you an idea, Facebook now has over 40 billion photos that it has to manage and companies like Walmart are managing more than 1 million customer transactions per hour. In 2013, look for big data products to really take the spotlight. Open-source platforms like Hadoop or MongoDB are working hard to help organizations create environments where huge data sets can be analyzed efficiently. With current trends, there will be even more data to be processed in 2013.

  6. High-density computing.
    In 2013, high-density computing will come down to a single question: how many users or workloads can you fit on a single machine? High-density computing will become a hot topic in 2013 as more organizations work to become more efficient with their IT infrastructure. This will involve cloud computing, virtualization and better hardware management, but the focus will be on the hardware itself. This doesn’t stop at the server level, however. High-density computing will also include components like storage and networking. There will be greater demands from storage environments as well as the networking infrastructure.
  7. Data center green initiatives.
    Data center environments not only want to be efficient – they now want to do it in a green way. 2013 will see the data center transform itself from a power-hungry behemoth to a truly agile, distributed, environment. Power sources will become more creative, cooling mechanisms will be more efficient, and the data center will begin to require less while still being able to deliver more! A recent survey done by the Uptime Institute shows that the average data center PUE is 1.8. Now, more than ever before, the Power Usage Effectiveness rating has become an important metric to measure data center efficiency. Already some of the leading organizations (Google and Microsoft) are showing ratings of 1.07 or just a bit more. In 2013, look for that number to decrease and even start to break 1 for many organizations.

    To stay competitive in today's growing data center market, providers will strive to be as resilient and efficient as possible. Not only does this translate well for the end-user, it also bodes well for the environment and further green initiatives.

  8. IT Consumerization and BYOD.
    Many users are now utilizing 3-4 devices on a given day to access their information. These devices, in many cases, are also pulling data from the corporate data center environment. This might be as simple as emails and as complex as virtual desktop or applications. 2013 will be the year of the consumerized IT user. There will be new types of tablets, new types of end-points and many more ways to connect into an environment. IT shops will have to adjust to this new type of environment and secure the data that flows between the devices and the data center.

    Because of BYOD and IT consumerization, 2013 will also see the rise of new types of management platforms. Mobile/Enterprise Device Management (MDM/EDM) solutions will help manage the end-user environment and next-generation security will further help lock down how the data flows through the WAN.

  9. A new breed of architects will rise. Over the previous year, cloud computing and a more diverse infrastructure created a new challenge for IT managers: knowledge levels and competency. In the past, IT groups were separated into storage, networking, server and virtualization teams. 2013 will see the rise of the cloud architect. There will be a very real need for engineers or architects who are able to communicate the power of a diverse, agile infrastructure to IT managers and executives. These architects will need to understand all of the underlying components and how they work together to create the cloud platform. These folks are the liaison between the executive teams and the IT groups within an organization.

    The demand for these types of professionals will only continue to grow in 2013. New types of cloud offerings from major software, hardware and even data center organizations are all the reason that the cloud architect is in such demand.

  10. The new corporate end-point.
    The whole conversation around the corporate end-point has almost reached a boiling point. In 2012, we saw the rise of the thin client as more organizations tried to get rid of their older, more sluggish and large PCs. Now, with more virtualization and bandwidth control, organizations are looking to further offset PC costs with zero clients. These are tiny units which connect to an application or desktop delivery controller and pull all of the information from there. Nothing is stored at the end-point. What does this create? In 2013, look for zero clients that will break the $100 mark and utilize 5 watts of power or less. These devices will be designed around a rip/replace model with absolutely minimal configuration requirements.

2013 Predictions for Information TechnologyTechnology seems to be advancing at a screaming pace. New types of ways to connect an infrastructure or make a certain component more efficient are being developed at a seemingly monthly pace. In 2013, make sure you don’t get swept away with the hype of a certain product or platform. As with any piece of technology, always exercise caution. A good planning cycle can save a lot of time and headache in the long run. Furthermore, prior to even spending any budgetary dollars, IT managers must be able to answer the following three questions:

  1. Is there a good business case?
  2. Do we have the competency and infrastructure to support this platform?
  3. What is the ROI?

It should be an interesting year full of new initiatives and ways to make environments more agile and capable of growth. At the end of the day – when deploying new platforms or systems - IT executives, to stay effective in the industry, must be able to align their business vision with their technology infrastructure.

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Bill Kleyman

Virtualization and Cloud Computing Industry Expert