Welcome to 2014! By now we’ve gone through most, if not all, of our budgets and we are setting plans for the future. As we look back on the past two years we see a direct acceleration in the IT world. Users are connecting in new ways, there is more content to be delivered – and this whole cloud thing just won’t let up. In fact, the recent Cisco Global Cloud Index report goes on to show that while the amount of traffic crossing the Internet and IP WAN networks is projected to reach 1.4 zettabytes per year in 2017, the amount of data center traffic is already 2.6 zettabytes per year – and by 2017 will triple to reach 7.7 zettabytes per year. This represents a 25 percent CAGR. The higher volume of data center traffic is due to the inclusion of traffic inside the data center (typically, definitions of Internet and WAN stop at the boundary of the data center).
Cisco goes on to state that global cloud traffic crossed the zettabyte threshold in 2012, and by 2017 over two-thirds of all data center traffic will be based in the cloud. Cloud traffic will represent 69 percent of total data center traffic by 2017.
Significant promoters of cloud traffic growth are the rapid adoption of and migration to cloud architectures, along with the ability of cloud data centers to handle significantly higher traffic loads. Cloud data centers support increased virtualization, standardization, and automation. These factors lead to increased performance, as well as higher capacity and throughput.
Cloud computing aside, there have been other technologies that have promoted this increased usage of the Internet, WAN services and data center platforms. More resource availability, datacenter optimizations, and of course mobility are all impacting the direct boom in data center demand. So, looking ahead at 2014 – what are some of the major technological solutions that will impact the data center? What are the key trends that will change the way a data center delivers content? How can data centers continue to meet the demands of both the users and the business? Finally, how can these top 10 technologies and trends impact your industry vertical and business? Let’s find out!
- The Hybrid Cloud.
What to look for: This technology is getting pretty hot. With so much cloud adoption happening, organizations need a good way to interconnect a wide variety of resources. A hybrid cloud is no longer defined by a simple connection between a private and public data center. Now, data centers can interconnect with resources spanning a variety of environments. This means that pieces can be in a private, public or "as-a-Service" delivery. All of these components can be connected together to bring home a powerful hybrid cloud platform. More services, many more users and a more interconnected world will prove to be the driving force behind a hybrid cloud platform.
Who it will impact: Any organization looking at the cloud will examine a hybrid cloud infrastructure. This can range from educational institutions to government organizations. Remember, hybrid cloud platforms are now also becoming compliant and regulation-ready.
- Apps and APIs.
What to look for: The application world is completely changing. However, so is the mechanism that allows these applications to interconnect and function in today’s IT world. The amazing thing here is that applications are becoming completely hardware agnostic. They aim to deliver clear usability and data. The future of the application world will revolve around constant connectivity, ease-of-use, and the power of the data center. New types of APIs are also allowing applications to access key resources much faster. This type of granular interconnect creates better and more agile cloud-centric applications. Remember, all of these future cloud applications reside within the data center.
Who it will impact: Application developers, data center cloud providers, and organizations creating their own apps should take note. In fact, any organization looking to deliver applications via the cloud needs to understand just how powerful new applications and APIs can really be.
- The Next-Generation Cloud.
What to look for: Over the next few years – many of the traditional cloud platforms we’ve come to known will evolve. Already we are seeing new ways to utilize cloud traffic and distribute data. The next-generation cloud will allow for greater levels of interconnectivity, optimized resource utilization, and creating a more powerful environment for the end-user. As more devices connect and more content is delivered – web-based communication will grow to become even more important.
Who it will impact: This truly impacts all verticals. Since cloud-based traffic is bound to increase, organizations will need to utilize WAN-based resources much more effectively.
- Fog Computing.
What to look for: Just when you started to make sense of the cloud, now you need to see through the fog! It may just be a short-lived buzz term, but the concept of fog computing is for real – we’re taking our cloud environments to the edge – literally. More environments are working to bring critical data closer to the user. This allows for a lot more data processing and rich content delivery. Creating these micro-clouds and fog networks allows for quite a bit of versatility for organizations. Plus, edge infrastructure doesn’t have to be expensive. Creating a fog computing environment can include branch offices, big data processing points, and even content distribution solutions.
Who it will impact: Creating an edge network has its direct benefits. However, organizations looking to create big data processing points, or stream content, should look at a Fog. Companies like Netflix get the idea. Bringing the data closer to the user helps with delivery and overall performance.
What to look for: Service delivery models only continue to grow and evolve. We now have the internet of everything and even the concept of everything-as-a-service. Let me give you an example. By utilizing software development kits (SDKs) and the APIs we discussed in #2, an emerging service platform known as backend-as-a-service (BaaS) can directly integrate various cloud services with both web and mobile applications. Already, there is a broad focus where open platforms aim to support every major platform including iOS, Android, Windows, and Blackberry. Furthermore, the BaaS platform aims to further enhance the mobile computing experience by integrating with cloud-ready data center providers. These new types of services will continue to grow. Data center platforms will strive to be your one-stop source for all service delivery needs.
Who it will impact: Service-based data center options are powerful solutions for organizations to take advantage of. For example, private-sector enterprises can deliver key services from distributed data centers and not have to utilize their own resources.
- Mobility Management.
What to look for: If you’re not ready for the mobility revolution – it’s time to get on this very fast-moving train. Users, devices and data are becoming a lot more mobile. But don’t think that this conversation is about devices alone. Users are consuming information in entirely new ways and your organization must be ready to facilitate these demands. This means managing mobile resources, users, and data center resources. Whether these are mobile application servers, virtual hosts, or entire racks dedicated to a mobile user platform – be ready to accommodate the new way that users compute.
Who it will impact: The stats don’t lie. Users are becoming more mobile and accessing their information in new ways. This impacts pharma, healthcare, government, education – and everything in between. Lawyers, doctors and professionals are connecting to their data from a number of different devices.
- Software-Defined Technologies.
What to look for: Software-defined technologies now incorporate network, storage, and compute. We are able to do brilliant things with hardware systems by introducing a more intelligent logical layer. This layer allows for better configurations, optimized resource utilization, and it helps create a more efficient data center infrastructure. SDx will create more resiliencies on a global scale by allowing complex connections to happen at a simplified level. Single hardware controllers can now create thousands of independent connections spanning numerous networks. No more 1-to-1 mapping. The future of intelligent hardware utilization revolves around multi-tenancy and high-density solutions.
Who it will impact: It’s hard to identify just one vertical that will benefit from this. Government entities and public sector organizations leverage SDx technologies to accomplish a lot of necessary tasks. Whether it’s logically segmenting a storage array or creating a globally distributed, resilient, data center connection – software-defined technology is making its mark in the industry.
- Web-Ready Content and Device Agnosticism.
What to look for: Much like the mobility revolution of #6 – the content that will be delivered to these devices will have to be optimized as well. On top of it all, maintaining device agnosticism is crucial. Users want access to their applications and data regardless of OS or hardware. This is why new types of applications and rich content will be delivered to a variety of users located all over the world. Intelligent data center automation controls will optimize the user’s connection by creating automated experience orchestration. That is, engines will dynamically define the user experience based on device, connection, location, security, and other factors. This is the future of how users will consume their information.
Who it will impact: Cloud service providers and organizations based in the cloud will look to leverage this trend heavily. Users care about their apps and data. So, all organizations looking to optimize the user experience must look at web-content delivery. Whether you’re a healthcare shop granting access to a benefits app or a finance firm allowing users to conduct complex trades – mobility and security will be critical.
- Converged Infrastructure.
What to look for: This technological platform will continue to pick up steam. The direct integration of storage, network, compute and pure IOPS (Input/Output Operations Per Second) has created a platform capable of high levels of resource optimization and workload delivery. We’re able to place more users per blade, deliver richer content, and create a data center model that follows the sun. Basically, we’re creating mobility within the data center. These new platforms take up less space and are much easier to manage. Furthermore, converged systems create even more capabilities for edge networks and organizations entering the cloud environment.
Who it will impact: Although a lot of organizations can benefit from a converged system – there are some that can benefit more than others. Call centers, schools, hospitals, data entry organizations and any other shop that has a dense amount of users doing similar things. In using virtualization and a converged infrastructure – organizations are able to optimize their resources while still increasing user density.
- The Personal Cloud | The Evolution of the User.
What to look for: A typical user may carry 2-3 devices with them which connect to the cloud. What if this person is a techie? What if we take into account all of the devices they have at home as well? The reality is that the user is evolving and now maintains a continuous connection to the cloud across multiple devices. This trend will continue to push forward as users connect cars, homes, refrigerators, thermostats and other devices directly to the Internet. Moving forward, a user’s personal cloud will identify who they are, which devices they utilize and how to best optimize their experience. This means creating the same experience regardless of device or OS, controlling apps and devices remotely, and introducing even greater levels of personal cloud security. Right now, the personal cloud is just a concept applied to a user’s personal cloud experience. In the future – a personal cloud may identify a user’s overall cloud persona.
Who it will impact: Not only will this impact the user environment, it will impact all those that interact with it as well. Organizations looking to optimize the user experience and deliver new types of content will need to be aware of how the user evolves their compute process. Service delivery, application development, and workload management will all evolve as the cloud and the user continue to change.
The modern data center has truly become the home of everything. We’re seeing entire businesses born from a cloud model as executives take direct advantage of new data center resources. The next couple of years will certainly be interesting. We’ll see more cloud-centric workloads deployed as the modern user becomes even more mobile. In our 2013 IT Predictions blog we looked at more consumerization, a lot more data and a new type of computing platform. Now, all of these technologies are certainly in place and are being evolved. There is more big data and business intelligence, we have a lot more mobility on the user front, and we are certainly seeing a lot more data center convergence take place. At the heart of it all – where so many new technologies and solutions live – sits the all-important data center. Looking ahead even further, we know that the data center will continue to serve a critical role in the evolution of IT. We’ll see even more data center automation, greater distributed technologies – and even the utilization of intelligent robotics. One thing will always be true – it’ll be up to the IT professional, cloud architect, or technology executive to utilize these powerful tools to align business goals with IT solutions.