The brave, new world of IT infrastructure
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It’s that time of year again when experts put out their predictions of what awaits ahead in their domain. Crystal ball gazing, dare I say it, is an inexact science at best. And in the case of infrastructure management, foretelling the future is similar to reading tea leaves, with their constantly shifting patterns.
The changing nature of technology infrastructure will naturally drive new approaches of infrastructure management. Not to discount the influence of trends like the BYOD phenomenon that has caught on firmly, with nearly 70% of employees using personal devices at work. In parallel, the increasing adoption of cloud by enterprises is creating a hybrid environment of on-premise and on-cloud assets. This is the new infrastructure paradigm – variegated, dynamic and prone to disruption by new technologies.
But amidst all the flux surrounding the management of technology infrastructure, there are three overarching clear trends:
Extreme infrastructure automation, across the IT solution lifecycle, will be a reality
In recent years, routine activities including reporting, application check, alert monitoring and problem identification have all gone the automated way to generate savings of between 20 and 30 percent. Run book automation is practically hygiene today, and a basic expectation in the realm of infrastructure service delivery. Automation will gather greater momentum in the coming year to present automated solutions for complex IT problems and service requests, reducing both operational costs and manpower requirements. Extreme solution automation, spanning the entire lifecycle of the IT challenge or service request, is one of the ways in which enterprises will improve the cost efficiency of their technology infrastructure while reducing dependency on manual intervention.
Cost and efficiency levers will drive infrastructure management decisions
Organizations will be extremely vigilant in ensuring that their infrastructure investments – both assets and services – are efficient, failing which they understand the straightway erosion of the bottom line. Most certainly, decision makers will avoid long term, lock-in contracts to take advantage of disruptive trends in the infrastructure space. Bespoke strategies will replace one-size-fits-all approaches. As enterprises look to optimize their assets, they might decide to work with a bunch of vendors specializing in different aspects of infrastructure management, rather than relying on a single end-to-end provider.
Converged infrastructure and software-defined data center technologies will add impetus to infrastructure efficiency
Roll compute, storage and networking into a self-provisioning pool of shared resources, which can be pre-configured to plug into the data center, will ensure infrastructure is up and running in days, instead of frustratingly long weeks or months. This will revolutionize the demand for and consumption of IT infrastructure. At play will be a virtuous cycle in which intelligent software, services and processes will drive intelligent infrastructure. For example, virtualization will help IT become more agile. And agile development will make stringent demands on infrastructure – leading to intelligent, self-healing and autonomous systems in response. This will create a platform for agile software to become even more agile – another manifestation of the “software-defined” trend – of networking, storage… indeed everything!
Co-existence of cloud technologies and traditional data center elements will trigger the emergence of models and standards that bridge the two worlds
Seamless use of hybrid environments will enable enterprises to gain higher efficiency from their infrastructure investments. While large enterprises may go further down the path on their cloud adoption road maps, some may even have blueprints ready; infrastructure services will continue to support hybrid deployment for foreseeable time.
The changing face of analytics will greatly influence infrastructure management
In the past, analytics played a largely diagnostic role – it identified the break so people could go fix it. But the advent of big data has given it wings. By leveraging unlimited information from a variety of sources, analytics can see patterns, chart trends and make predictions that were outside its capability a few years ago. What this means in the context of infrastructure management is that analytics can sense a breakdown before it actually occurs. It adds new meaning to preparedness for disaster recovery and guaranteeing of business continuity.
All the above mentioned trends foretell the same thing – that infrastructure management will be much more efficient and predictable with open standards and API-driven portability alongside interoperability in a hybrid environment. Signaling that the end of vendor lock-ins is inevitable, in the infrastructure management space, and it is likely that the action will start as early as 2014.