As is its convention each year at this time, IT industry researcher and analyst Gartner has highlighted the key technologies and trends for which IT infrastructure and operations decision-makers must prepare in order to fully support new-gen digital infrastructure in 2019.
Gartner analysts on Dec. 4 presented these findings during the Gartner IT Infrastructure, Operations and Cloud Strategies Conference, which continues through Dec. 6 in Las Vegas.
“The focus of I&O leaders is no longer to solely deliver engineering and operations, but instead to deliver products and services that support and enable an organization’s business strategy,” Gartner Senior Director and Analyst Ross Winser said. “The question is already becoming: ‘How can we use capabilities like artificial intelligence (AI), network automation or edge computing to support rapidly growing infrastructures and accomplish business needs?’”
During his presentation, Winser encouraged I&O leaders to prepare for the impacts of 10 key technologies and trends to support digital infrastructure in 2019.
Key Trend No. 1: Serverless Computing
Serverless computing is an emerging software architecture pattern that promises to eliminate the need for infrastructure provisioning and management. I&O leaders need to adopt an application-centric approach to serverless computing, managing APIs and SLAs, rather than physical infrastructures, Gartner said. “The phrase ‘serverless’ is somewhat of a misnomer,” Winser said. “The truth is that servers still exist, but the service provider is responsible for all the underlying resources involved in provisioning and scaling a runtime environment, resulting in appealing agility.”
Serverless does not replace containers or VMs, so it’s critical to learn how best and where to use the technology. “Developing support and management capabilities within I&O teams must be a focus as more than 20 percent of global enterprises will have deployed serverless computing technologies by 2020, which is an increase from less than 5 percent today,” Winser said.
Key Trend No. 2: AI Impacts
AI is climbing up the ranks in terms of the value it will serve I&O leaders who need to manage growing infrastructures without being able to grow their staff. AI has the potential to be organizationally transformational and is at the core of digital business, the impacts of which are already being felt within organizations. According to Gartner, global AI-derived business value will reach nearly $3.9 trillion by 2022.
Key Trend No. 3: Network Agility (or Lack of?)
The network underpins everything IT does—cloud services, Internet of Things (IoT), edge services—and will continue to do so moving forward.
The focus for 2019 and beyond must move to how I&O leaders can help their teams increase the pace of network operations to meet demand. “Part of the answer is building network agility that relies on automation and analytics, and addressing the real skills shift needed to succeed,” Winser said.
The demands on the network are set to grow with the advent of 5G, increasing cloud maturity, and the explosion in numbers of IoT devices.
Key Trend No. 4: Death of the Data Center
Gartner predicts that by 2025, 80 percent of enterprises will migrate entirely away from on-premises data centers with the current trend of moving workloads to colocation, hosting and the cloud leading them to shut down their traditional data center.
“I&O leaders must prepare to place workloads based on business needs, not constrained by physical location. From colocation through to public cloud — plenty of alternatives to on-premises data centers exist. Leaders must identify whether there are truly strategic reasons to persist with on-premises needs, especially when they consider the significant amount of investment involved is often amortized over many years,” Winser said. Preparations must begin now, as the critical time frame for this is 2021 to 2025, Gartner said.
Key Trend No. 5: Edge Computing
IoT and immersive technologies will drive more information processing to the edge, redefining and reshaping what I&O leaders will need to deploy and manage. The edge is the physical location where things and people connect with the networked digital world, and infrastructure will increasingly reach out to the edge. Edge computing is a part of a distributed computing topology where information processing is located close to the edge, which is where things and people produce or consume that information. It touches on the laws of physics, economy and land, all of which are contributing factors to how and when to use edge.
“This is another trend that does not replace the cloud, but augments it,” Winser said. “The critical time frame for organizations to adopt this trend is between 2020 and 2023.”
Key Trend No. 6: Digital Diversity Management
Digital diversity management is not about people, but rather about the discovery and maintenance of assets that are “out there” in any given modern digital enterprise. “There has been huge growth in the range and quantity of “things” that I&O is expected to know about, be supporting and be managing,” Winser said. “Traditional asset management is still important, but we’re moving into the realms of involvement with new assets that might have direct effects on the finances, health and welfare of the organization’s customers.” Preparing I&O is vital now before the critical time frame of 2020 to 2025.
Key Trend No. 7: New Roles Within I&O
I&O leaders find that staffing justifications require resolving complex relationships between costs, activities and customer quality expectations. Explaining I&O staffing requirements to IT and business leaders in terms of business value by connecting staffing levels to business performance and strategic objectives is a must in today’s modern digital enterprise.
“For instance, IT is increasingly taking on the role of supporting cloud services in terms of aggregation, customization, integration and governance. A big challenge with cloud services is keeping costs under control, and the business expects I&O to be doing just that. Rather than focusing solely on engineering and operations, I&O must develop the capabilities needed to broker services; these will require different roles to the I&O of old,” Winser said. The critical time frame for this trend starts immediately in 2019.
Key Trend No. 8: Software as a Service (SaaS) Denial
SaaS is software that is owned, delivered and managed remotely by one or more providers. The provider delivers software based on one set of common code and data definitions that is consumed in a one-to-many model by all contracted customers at any time on a pay-for-use basis or as a subscription based on use metrics.
In 2019 and beyond, SaaS will have a big impact on how organizations look at infrastructure delivery strategies moving forward. However, most I&O leaders are still focused on infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS) solutions. “SaaS itself is becoming a level of complexity that IT shops aren’t yet coping with as they should. The shift to SaaS must be accompanied with I&O support, all the way from ensuring visibility is maintained of what is in use, through to supporting compliance requirements and enterprise integration needs. Leaders must start this now as the pressure will be on through 2021 and beyond,” Winser said.
Key Trend No. 9: Talent Management Becomes Critical
Historically, IT staff has been vertically organized and based around the technology stack they managed. As infrastructures go digital, there becomes a need for people to work horizontally across stacks in order to identify and remediate technology work stoppages in their business. Expanding I&O skill sets, practices and procedures to accommodate hybrid operations is of the utmost importance in 2019 and beyond. “In short, talent is the critical ingredient for a modern, high-performing technology organization, and great talent is in high demand. People that show versatility and adaptability are quickly becoming must-haves, particularly in hybrid environments,” Winser said.
Key Trend No. 10: Global Infrastructure Enablement
Despite few infrastructures being truly “global” in nature, organizations must still prepare for the notion of “infrastructure everywhere.” While doing so, I&O leaders must work within the constraints of tight budgets and cost pressures.
One way to tackle this challenge this is to wisely choose the network of partners needed for global success. “I&O leaders must look hard at their existing partners and raise the bar of expectation. Can they clearly identify the value the partner will bring to them in the context of global infrastructure? Are they unlocking all the value from recent investments their partners have been making?” Winser said. “There will be no time for ‘B-team’ partners in 2019 and beyond, — I&O leaders must be on top of this trend between 2020 and 2023.”
Gartner clients can learn more about I&O leadership in the report, ”2019 Planning Guide for Infrastructure and Operations."