"While the data center has long been the foundation of many business operations, virtually all of the top tech trends for 2015 run through these critical facilities. In an enterprise landscape increasingly dominated by connectivity and computing everywhere, it's becoming more important than ever for companies to ensure that they have the architectural backbone to support rapidly expanding device, user and network ecosystems. Think of it as a high-performance home base for an increasingly device diverse, far-flung and data-hungry workforce.
Gartner recently released its list of the top 10 strategic technology phenomena for next year, which it presented at a recent symposium. All of these trends, according to Gartner researchers, are between the early adoption and common immersion phases, which places them at a critical juncture. They have the potential to significantly disrupt outmoded IT or business strategies, meriting resource concentration and fairly aggressive investment. By the same token, they still carry real risks for companies that do not adapt effectively. And, of course, enterprises that insist on arriving quite late to the party risk sacrificing some of their competitive advantage in the process. All of the phenomena that are going to shape the enterprise world rely on data centers and the cloud in one way or another.
Check out the link to view all of the top trends, but here we'll focus on three with particular ramifications for data centers, network connectivity and the cloud. The ongoing convergence of physical and virtual spaces, the rise of smart machines and analytics everywhere will continue to shape how digital technologies affect business processes, and vice versa.
Software-Defined Architectures: Agility at Less Cost
Many companies have started to zero in on agile development, which allows organizations to embrace the kind of flexible functionality that can supercharge growth. Switching to a more software-driven, rather than hardware-centric, infrastructure lets enterprises configure smarter applications, as well as jump through fewer hoops. They can get the kind of high-performance system they need with fewer costs.
""To deal with the rapidly changing demands of digital business and scale systems up - or down - rapidly, computing has to move away from static to dynamic models,"" Gartner stated. ""Rules, models and code that can dynamically assemble and configure all of the elements needed from the network through the application are needed.""
While software-defined architectures can be great assets for enterprises, it's important to ensure that the hardware backbone is still up to the task. In many cases, it may make sense for companies to outsource their servers and network support to a virtual private server host, which can deliver the high level of attentive management and IT support these next-gen infrastructures need to thrive.
Proliferation of Mobile Devices: Computing Everywhere and Anywhere
The days of the 1:1 device to user ratio are long gone, and many enterprise users need their devices for a lot more than just checking email. Powerful new analytics tools (the rise of advanced analytics is another trend on Gartner's list) coupled with increasingly mobile-friendly enterprise applications mean that the only thing holding companies back from enjoying workplace-like convenience and connectivity is the strength of its internal networks. And rather than getting users to adapt new tools to old operational paradigms, said Gartner vice president David Cearley, it's going to be dependent on businesses to recalibrate.
""Increasingly, it's the overall environment that will need to adapt to the requirements of the mobile user,"" Cearley stated. ""This will continue to raise significant management challenges for IT organizations as they lose control of user endpoint devices.""
To regain control of user endpoints, enterprises need to increasingly turn their attention to administration and access controls for network tools and information reserves themselves. Working with cloud computing or software-defined architectures, companies can implement multilayered data protections across the network and deal with devices on a granular level, ensuring simplified management and upholding security. As compliance and information protection concerns continue to dominate enterprise data-usage strategies, it's going to be more important than ever to work with a data center provider that has experience satisfying regulatory and large-enterprise requirements.
The Internet of Things: A Disruptive Force Coming Into Its Own
The much-ballyhooed arrival of the Internet of Things will continue in the next year, Gartner reported, as companies figure out more concrete ways of using connected machines and the abundant data streams they create. The rapid digitization of enterprise devices is giving rise to four usage models for the Internet of Things, which are manage, monetize, operate and extend. These four principles encourage companies to think outside of the box, as well as find overlaps between their needs and demonstrated services that the Internet of Things can provide.
In terms of the data center, the continued investment in Internet of Things technology means that enterprises will have to rely on servers that can support the constant influx of information, data storage solutions that offer real-time backups, secure archival and end-to-end support for system scalability.
Looking Toward the Future
Gartner publishes this list every year, so looking at how it has changed over time can help companies understand how once up-and-coming phenomena have become firmly entrenched in today's enterprise strategies. TechRepublic contributor Michael Kassner pointed out that the Internet of Things is once of the longest-tenured in its fourth year on the list, indicative of the fact that it's continued to gather steam. Overall, however, what's clear is that these phenomena all overlap significantly, and the cloud and data centers will be at the center of innovation and development in these areas in the years to come."