In 2018, Data Center Technology Will Become Smarter, Hybrid, More Distributed, and Easier to Consume

C. Drake

Summary Bullets:

  • In 2018, rising enterprise demand for hybrid cloud solutions will fuel new and expanded partnerships between traditional infrastructure vendors and hyperscale public cloud providers.
  • Vendor initiatives will target the challenge of managing workloads across hybrid and increasingly distributed IT environments, along with ways of simplifying the procurement, deployment and consumption of IT.

2017 saw a growing recognition that private cloud technology is both a realistic and desirable way to manage enterprise workloads, and can be used more efficiently through effective integration in conjunction with public cloud services. A common theme during the year’s industry events was envisaging and enabling multi- and hybrid cloud futures. At the same time, in 2017, data center infrastructure vendors from Cisco and Dell EMC to IBM and HPE continued to transform their solutions and services businesses. These transformations were a response to enterprise digitalization initiatives and recognition that in the future, IT will be hybrid, and must be able to span the full spectrum of enterprise locales from the cloud to core data centers to the network edge. In 2017, individual vendors went through quite different transformation processes: in addition to launching new solutions, technology companies acquired and integrated new businesses, and forged alliances with one another and with hyperscale cloud providers in order to fill out their portfolios. These developments were all driven by a competitive push to help enterprises modernize their traditional data center environments, capitalize on the benefits of hybrid cloud, and expand their ability to handle growing volumes of data at the edge of their networks.

As we look forward to 2018 and anticipate how these trends will evolve, several trends seem likely. Firstly, rising enterprise demand for hybrid cloud solutions will fuel growing collaboration between traditional infrastructure vendors and the hyperscale public clouds. 2017 saw new alliances being forged between Google and Nutanix and Google and Cisco, and the expansion of existing partnerships between NetApp and Microsoft and between VMware and Amazon. In 2018, watch out for further team-up arrangements that involve VMware, NetApp, Google and Alibaba, among others.

Secondly, competition between the leading public cloud providers and their infrastructure partners will focus, among other things, on the provision of tools and capabilities for moving and managing workloads across hybrid IT environments. The need to manage multiple and diverse cloud platforms will fuel demand for solutions that support a broad basket of management capabilities, including policy and cost management, microservices, user access control and security configuration.

Thirdly, efforts to simplify both the consumption and maintenance of IT resources will be a major priority for vendors and an important factor driving the development of hyperconverged and composable infrastructure solutions. Vendor efforts will also focus on choice and providing enterprise customers with a range of IT delivery models that extend to things such as SaaS-based cloud management tools, and vendor-managed, pay-as-you-use private cloud solutions.

Finally, there will be a proliferation of solutions and strategies that support edge computing initiatives. For many enterprises, the deployment of converged edge systems and micro data centers will contribute to the steady transformation of existing data center footprints, making them less centralized and more distributed across a larger number of locations. In 2018, the launch of new edge computing solutions will be accompanied by the initiation of strategic partnerships between IT and operational technology (OT) specialists, and between IT vendors and cloud service providers. These partnerships will aim to help participating vendors target emerging IoT opportunities. At the same time, data center platforms will become increasingly intelligent and automated thanks to their integration with new AI and ML technologies.

However, despite growing recognition of the benefits of hybrid cloud and of edge computing and analytics, the actual deployment of these technologies will, for many enterprises, be gradual, thanks to the continued presence of legacy data center technologies, organizational and cultural barriers within the enterprise, and maze of choices facing enterprises buyers. Vendors that can help enterprises navigate the range of potential options while also simplifying the procurement, deployment and consumption of IT stand to benefit most.

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