Tag Archives: Trends

Adapting IT Operations to Emerging Trends: 3 Tips


For infrastructure management professionals, keeping up with new trends is a constant challenge. IT must constantly weigh the potential benefits and risks of adopting new technologies, as well as the pros and cons of continuing to maintain their legacy hardware and applications.

Some experts say that right now is a particularly difficult time for enterprise IT given the massive changes that are occurring. When asked about the trends affecting enterprise IT operations today, Keith Townsend, principal at The CTO Advisor, told me, “Obviously the biggest one is the cloud and the need to integrate cloud.”

In its latest market research, IDC predicts that public cloud services and infrastructure spending will grow 24.4% this year, and Gartner forecasts that the public cloud services market will grow 18%in 2017. By either measure, enterprises are going to be running a lot more of their workloads in the cloud, which means IT operations will need to adapt to deal with this new situation.

Townsend, who also is SAP infrastructure architect at AbbVie, said that the growth in hybrid cloud computing and new advancements like serverless computing and containers pose challenges for IT operations, given “the resulting need for automation and orchestration throughout the enterprise IT infrastructure.” He added, “Ultimately, they need to transform their organizations from a people, process and technology perspective.”

For organizations seeking to accomplish that transformation, Townsend offered three key pieces of advice.

Put the strategy first

Townsend said the biggest mistake he sees enterprises making “is investing in tools before they really understand their strategy.” Organizations know that their approach to IT needs to change, but they don’t always clearly define their goals and objectives.

Instead, Townsend said, they often start by “going out to vendors and asking vendors to solve this problem for them in the form of some tool or dashboard or some framework without understanding what the drivers are internally.”

IT operations groups can save themselves a great deal of time, money and aggravation by focusing on their strategy first before they invest in new tools.

Self-fund your transformation

Attaining the level of agility and flexibility that allows organizations to take advantage of the latest advances in cloud computing isn’t easy or cheap. “That requires some investment, but it’s tough to get that investment,” Townsend acknowledged.

Instead of asking for budget increases, he believes the best way to do that investment is through self-funding.

Most IT teams spend about 80% of their budgets on maintaining existing systems, activities that are colloquially called “keeping the lights on.” That leaves only 20% of the budget for new projects and transformation. “That mix needs to be changed,” said Townsend.

He recommends that organizations look for ways to become more efficient. By carefully deploying automation and adopting new processes, teams can accomplish a “series of mini-transformations” that gradually decreases the amount of money that must be spent on maintenance and frees up more funds and staff resources for new projects.

Focus on agility, not services

In his work, Townsend has seen many IT teams often make a common mistake when it comes to dealing with the business side of the organization: not paying enough attention to what is happening in the business and what the business really wants.

When the business comes to IT with a request, IT typically responds with a list of limited options. Townsend said that these limited options are the equivalent of telling the business no. “What they are asking for is agility,” he said.

He told a story about a recent six-month infrastructure project where the business objectives for the project completely changed between the beginning of the project and the end. An IT organization can only adapt to those sort of constant changes by adopting a DevOps approach, he said. If IT wants to remain relevant and help organizations capitalize on the new opportunities that the cloud offers, it has to become much more agile and flexible.

You can see Keith Townsend live and in person at Interop ITX, where he will offer more insight about how enterprise IT needs to transform itself in his session, “Holistic IT Operations in the Application Age.” Register now for Interop ITX, May 15-19, in Las Vegas.



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4 Software-Defined Storage Trends


As enterprises move towards the software-defined data center (SDDC), many of them are deploying software-defined storage (SDS). According to Markets and Markets, the software-defined storage market was worth $4.72 billion in 2016, and it could increase to $22.56 billion by 2021. That’s a 36.7% compound annual growth rate.

Enterprises are attracted to SDS for two key reasons: flexibility and cost. SDS abstracts the storage software away from the hardware on which it runs. That gives organizations a lot more options, including the freedom to change vendors as they see fit and the ability to choose low-cost hardware. SDS solutions also offer management advantages that help enterprises reduce their total cost of ownership (TCO).

Enterprises appear eager to reap the benefits of SDS. Camberley Bates, managing partner and analyst at Evaluator Group, said in an interview, “Adoption is increasing as IT end users get more familiar with the options and issues with SDS.”

She highlighted four trends that are currently affecting the software-defined storage market.

1. Appliances dominate

By definition, software-defined storage runs on industry-standard hardware, so you might think that most organizations buy their SDS software and hardware separately and build their own arrays. However, that isn’t the case.

“Much of the [current SDS] adoption is in the form of an appliance from the vendor, and these include categories such as server-based storage, hyperconverged and converged infrastructure systems,” Bates said.

Although the market is embracing SDS, enterprises still don’t want to give up some of the benefits associated with buying a pre-built appliance where the hardware and software have been tested to work together.

2. NVMe improves performance

Designed to take advantage of the unique characteristics of SSDs, NVMe provides faster performance and lower latency than SAS or SATA. As a result, many different types of storage solutions have begun using NVMe technology, but Bates said that SDS solutions are adopting NVMe more quickly.

She added that in her firm’s labs,  NVMe proved to have lower price for performance  than other types of storage by a significant margin based on work with Intel last summer.

3. Enterprises want single-vendor support

One of the most common problems organizations run into when deploying do-it-yourself SDS solutions is the support runaround. When they experience an issue, they call their SDS software vendor for help, only to be told that the problem lies with the hardware. And, of course, the hardware vendor then blames the software vendor.

“There is a distinct need to have a single entity responsible for the service and support of the system,” Bates said.

She also noted that the potential risk of data loss makes this support issue more significant for SDS than for other types of software-defined infrastructure.

4. Scale-out remains challenging

The other big issue that organizations face with SDS is scalability. “Scale-out designs are not easy,” Bates said. “They may do well for the first two to four nodes, but if I am creating a large-scale hybrid cloud, then the environment needs to scale efficiently and resiliently. We have seen environments that fail on both counts.”

As organizations increasingly deploy hybrid clouds, they’ll need to look for SDS solutions that help them solve this scalability issue.

Camberley Bates will discuss SDS in more depth and offer tips on what enterprises should look for in SDS solutions at her Interop ITX session, “Software-Defined Storage: What It Is and Why It’s Making the Rounds in Enterprise IT.” Register now for Interop ITX, May 15-19 in Las Vegas.



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9 Hot Trends For 2017


Predicting even the near future of storage is a pretty complex issue right now. For anyone who hasn’t noticed, we are in the middle of a storage revolution, with more change in the next year than any time since the RAID array nearly 40 years ago.

Many technology transitions are occurring, both in hardware and software. Some, such as hyperconverged systems, impact the very structure of the server box- networked storage array model we’ve grown used to over the last three decades.

The cloud is reshaping the data center, too, while SSDs are the tipping point in usurping HDD roles. With all of these changes together, storage buyers will get much more for their money, while finding that fewer servers or storage boxes are needed in tomorrow’s data center to get the work done.

With all these changes, storage revenue seems to be dropping, at least by IDC’s numbers, but there are some underlying trends which indicate storage is in fact much healthier, though not necessarily thriving, and that this trend will continue into 2017.

IDC shows 3Q revenues dropping for the storage segment by 3% year-over-year. A deeper dive shows that, while most traditional vendors such as Dell Technologies show drops in the 10% range, the ODM and other categories actually increased by 6 and 8% respectively. This masks the unit growth for these two categories, since they typically use a low-cost model that brings the price of kit into the 50% or less range compared with the typical traditional OEM.

This has been a pattern for the last couple of years and it reflects the “Linux-ization” of storage as COTS and standard drives at internet prices take over the storage base. This trend will accelerate in 2017, reinforced by the rise of software-defined storage and storage service software unbundled from proprietary solutions.

Continue on to find out more about storage trends that are poised to impact the data center next year.

(Image: ktsdesign/Shutterstock)



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