Four Challenging Trends in IT Today

Many IT managers entered the workforce during the data center era, but current trends including user demand, technology adoption, and organizational changes call for nimble alternatives, with wide-ranging consequences. To perform at optimum levels, managers must consider these four daunting trends in information management.

“Begin thinking horizontally” advises David Cappuccio, Vice President, Distinguished Analyst, and Chief of Research at Gartner. At the mid-December 2015 Gartner conference in Las Vegas entitled Datacenter, Infrastructure and Operations Management, Cappuccio observed powerful trends evident throughout demand, technology, and organizational categories. Each tendency may change not just how managers conduct everyday business, but also interaction with business units to successfully navigate this mercurial environment together.

Consider four challenging trends that place significant pressure on daily IT activities:

First Challenge — Non-Stop Demand

The amount of data in enterprises grows by the minute, up to 50% each year, says Cappucchio. The current 37.8 million terabytes of stored data is expected to increase to nearly 90 million terabytes in 2019. And that’s just the storage forecast. Add to this the explosion in network traffic, estimated to grow by more than 75% each year, and you realize what IT departments are up against.

The catch? In most cases, all this growth must be handled within the same footprint. Most facilities aren’t equipped for drastic updates, and most budgets remain static. For IT teams charged at the most basic level with keeping the lights on, managing demand is increasingly difficult, and there’s a tremendous strain on the resources in place.

The solution? Look to new technologies that boost operational efficiencies, including cloud services that reduce backend administrative needs and provide central data management across traditional silos.

Second Challenge — Every Business Unit is a Startup

There are groups in every organization that sidestep IT to accomplish their own initiatives. They cite factors like “the need for rapid development” or the fact that “they have to compromise with IT instead of getting what they need” to rationalize working outside the system. And since teams and individual users can easily establish their own cloud services now, they’re getting the budget to do it.

Cappucchio points out the need to remember that the focus is on IT services, not technologies. This calls for coordinating closely with business units: grasp what they need for innovation, quickly develop necessary services, and work together to get to market rapidly. Collaborating helps businesses in other ways too — it can reduce escalating costs driven by the proliferation of cloud services across the organization, and better govern enterprise data overall.

The solution? IT must communicate with business units to enable innovation, and employ teamwork to reach markets quickly.

Third Challenge — Growing Demands of Edge Computing

When a billion packets entered a data center five years ago, it would be labelled a denial-of-service (DoS) attack, says Cappucchio. Today this is relatively normal; we chalk it up to the Internet of Things (IoT). IT departments must handle more devices, remote sites, geo-specific applications, and services that can’t afford data latency. The distributed nature of modern technology makes traditional, centralized models less practical, and is pushing managers to look beyond the data center for solutions.

Managers need to view services horizontally across the organization — it’s no longer just about understanding services like virtualization or storage. And, Cappucchio adds, the end-user experience is still an IT responsibility. So managers must push some services closer to the edge of organizations, and deliver services with the highest bandwidth, lowest latency, and best price.

The solution? Look to the edge of the organization as the locus of end-user demand and productivity, and provide data center-quality service in these areas.

Fourth Challenge — Enterprise-Defined Datacenters

In a traditional model, organizations have a primary datacenter and secondary backup locations for disaster-recovery. Today, says Cappucchio, the datacenter is everywhere. Because businesses can’t reasonably provide each service centrally anymore, their datacenter is a mix of traditional, cloud, co-location, branch offices and other disparate elements.

But, as Cappucchio explains, it’s no longer about the data center; the job of IT is to deliver computer resources in the best way possible. Regardless of where these services reside, IT must centrally manage and automate service-related tasks as much as possible. The goal is to provide the correct service from the right place, for the best price, advancing business objectives in the process.

The solution? Design plans around where the data is, not where the data center lives.

Every organization feels the impact of these trends to some degree, and must field several challenges simultaneously. A poll of the audience at the end of Cappucchio’s session revealed that overwhelmingly, audiences expected non-stop demand to exert the most impact on business practices.

What major trends pose the greatest challenges in your IT department? Share them with us in the comments below.

And for further recommendations on how to manage growing quantities of end-user data, read the Gartner report: 2015 Endpoint Backup Critical Capabilities Report.