From disruption to deployment: IT in 2016
By Bjorn Engelhardt November 30, 2015
- Organisations began to shake off the shackles of legacy architectures in 2015
- Industry in process of disruption, but now is also the time to take action
THIS year, the enterprise IT industry was dominated by dreams of ‘agility’ and warnings of ‘disruption.’
In 2015, flexibility was a key driver as enterprises sought better ways of delivering applications and data, meeting business demands and enabling employees to work however, and wherever, they want.
As such, it was a year of transition in which many organisations began to shake off the shackles of legacy architectures in the pursuit of cost-savings, operational efficiencies and, most importantly, gaining a competitive advantage.
Many businesses, up to 70% according to Gartner, turned to cloud and transformed their operations into hybrid enterprises.
In order to predict what trends may emerge in 2016, it is first critical to examine what happened in 2015 to see where the road ahead may lie.
1) Death of the router
With the rise of SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) applications, coupled with an insatiable appetite for more bandwidth fuelled by applications like VoIP (Voice-over-Internet Protocol) and video, traditional approaches to wide-area networking no longer met the needs of business.
In response, SD-WAN (software-defined wide-area networking) emerged this year as a means to allow applications to be delivered securely and optimally across hybrid networks and hybrid clouds with reduced cost, increased speed and streamlined management.
While uptake is still in the early stages, a growing number of organisations in 2015 started to evaluate SD-WAN technologies – according to a recent survey conducted by Riverbed, nearly a third of enterprises were “exploring or deploying SD-WAN.”
This software-defined approach is poised to be the death knell of an IT staple – the router.
This is because while traditional networks have relied upon hardware components, software-centric approaches to delivering applications offer a far more responsive way to react to business demands.
As such, an ‘application-defined’ approach to networking will become key as business critical applications – those that underpin day-to-day work – need to be prioritised over less important traffic.
So, as IT implement complete solutions for visibility, optimisation and control in order to move to a more software-defined enterprise, the router will become a relic – replaced by a software-driven approach to applications and their delivery.
2) Eyes to the edges
During this shake-up of legacy IT, the data centre has been the first piece of the puzzle to be overhauled.
According to Gartner, the future of the data centre is also set to be software-defined, and will be crucial to the long-term evolution for businesses. In 2016, organisations will start to shift their focus to their remote sites.
On average, according to another Riverbed survey, an enterprise operates 55 remote offices for every large data centre and nearly half of all employees work out of these sites – they form a critical part of every business.
CIOs will begin to turn their attention towards the edges in a bid to drive the same security, uptime and business continuity they have identified for the data centre.
The same survey found that 50% of an organisation’s data is at its remote sites – in 2016, businesses will strive to centralise the information at their branches to not only run proper analytics over the entirety of their data, but also to make more informed business decisions.
3) Combating complexity
As an enterprise’s topology extends beyond the traditional realm of on-premises data centres, network complexity increases exponentially.
Add to this mix the ever-advancing march of mobile devices in the hands of employees, and gaining control of the network and applications becomes the No 1 priority.
It is clear that the industry is in process of disruption – but it is also now the time to take action.
As the network complexity snowballs, the role of IT has also evolved and it is now expected to align to the needs of the business.
Shadow IT applications will also continue to infiltrate companies – while employees may believe that these apps will enable productivity, each new app adds more complexity to the network.
So what is the best weapon against this increasing complexity?
One word: Visibility.
The ability to see all the components which make up SaaS applications and identify any potential bottlenecks – whether due to an organisation’s or a third party’s infrastructure – gives IT complete control over how business critical workloads are delivered.
Additionally, deeper visibility gives CIOs (chief information officers) meaningful metrics on application performance and user experience.
This allows IT to be seen as a critical component of the business, rather than just a cost centre, while also helping to build more trust between IT and the rest of the business.
In today’s enterprises, applications are the lifeblood of business and in 2016, technologies that focus on automation, intelligence, orchestration and visibility will be imperative as the need to control distributed networks comes to the fore.
Bjorn Engelhardt is senior vice president, Asia Pacific and Japan at Riverbed.
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