Navigating the 2015 IT minefield

Technology | Fri 19 Dec | Author – Business & Finance minefield

The IT landscape is becoming even more complex for enterprises as we look towards 2015 writes Gary Watson, general manager of Sungard AS Ireland.

It seems every year businesses are confronted with even more issues and potential pitfalls that they need to navigate around – not only to remain competitive, but to avoid the loss of reputation and customer trust.

Upcoming legislation like the EU Data Protection directive will mean even more  pressure to secure mission critical data, and CIOs need to ensure they are doing everything in their power to protect customer information.

Alongside this increased pressure on governance and compliance, organisations also need to deal with a greater demand from employees for flexible working technologies like desktop as a service (DaaS) as well as finding a way to cope with complex IT estates brought about by cloud hype. It is within this environment we will see an increased demand for managed service providers (MSPs) that can help businesses through what is set to be an IT minefield of a year.

Here is a list of the top five trends that will shape enterprise IT in 2015:

1) Increased value in services

The cost of raw infrastructure is already plummeting thanks to price-wars between the biggest providers – including Amazon Web Services, Microsoft and Google. As a result the bottom is quickly falling out of the market, and value is now rising up the stack.

And with many IT departments moving away from the traditional maintenance model and looking to demonstrate business value through innovation and a focus on the application layer, organisations no longer have the expertise, or the need to deal with raw infrastructure.

In the next year we’ll see a rise in the number of businesses turning to MSPs [1]. With IT priorities shifting from reducing costs to helping create an agile and flexible work environment, businesses will look to their technology partners to do the general maintenance work. Thanks to MSPs the CIO can now pour his or her department’s resources in to developing an IT environment which can be shaped and customised by individual departments – trusting that the heavy lifting and availability demands will be dealt with elsewhere.

2) Investing in orchestration

The traditional role of the CIO is shifting, with more attention being paid to the innovation. Again, this means a move away from tried and tested methods of managing infrastructure. Over the next year we will start to see CIOs throw out the outdated ‘command and control’ model of infrastructure governance. Instead IT leaders will begin to embrace data centre orchestration technologies that can offer seamless infrastructure performance, with data moving freely across hybrid IT infrastructures.

The move will allow CIOs to continue to pull away from the ‘dirty’ infrastructure work, retaining their focus on demonstrating real value to the business and delivering a competitive edge.

3) Increased pressure on data compliance

The issue of data protection, and the subsequent responsibility that falls on Ireland, came to the forefront of media attention in the latter half of this year with the appointment of Helen Dixon as data Protection commissioner. We’re starting to see a number of companies coming under increasing scrutiny for their data protection and compliance policies, and this scrutiny is only going to increase with the new laws coming in 2017 from the EU Commission concerning data regulation. This will significantly increase a business’ responsibility for critical data, and have the power to impose large sanctions for mishandling, or failing to take every step possible to protect it.  This ruling will greatly impact any business model based on the use/management of data such as cloud, Bring-Your-Own-Device and datacentre storage.

Ireland is set to feel the pressure of regulation more than any other EU country given its role in protecting the data for the high profile companies based in Ireland such as Google, Facebook and Apple. We will start to see more debates around who will have to take responsibility for this. MSPs should also prepare for a huge influx of queries from customers about their data, so a thorough understanding of the new regulation itself will be crucial in order to deal with all of the inbound requests. 2017 might seem like a long time away but the radical changes in law will require organisations to work hard over the next two years to have a chance of complying and avoiding substantial fines in the future.

4) The rise of desktop as a service

2015 will create an even bigger demand for DaaS. The expectations of employees are changing, and with more and more ‘Generation Y’ workers entering the workforce, IT departments are finding it increasingly challenging to keep up the pace with today’s technology demands [2]. For some millennials, the tech package combined with flexible working practices can be a major factor when considering potential employers. This trend is only set to get bigger, especially with further adoption of flexible working laws.

Whether ‘digital natives’ or ‘digital migrants’, employees now expect to access mission critical data and key applications from any location or device and if companies wish to keep up with modern working practices they need to ensure that they make headway in 2015 into providing this type of service.

5) Coping with cloud complexity

Cloud has most certainly hit the mainstream, and in 2014 the appetite for cloud increased across Europe with 43 per cent of business leaders experiencing a stronger demand for IaaS in the past year. This figure is even stronger in the UK and Ireland with 46 per cent seeing this shift away from traditional hosting services.

However, not everything is rosy – while the cloud initially promised to cut IT complexity, many CIOs have found themselves with a new set of challenges. With so many early cloud adopters rushing in and only looking at the immediate, short-term benefits of the cloud many have found themselves caught up in the intricate network of vendors, none of which have integrated clouds.

The hype surrounding the cloud is well and truly over. In the next year we’ll see businesses looking to extricate themselves from their multiple IT environments – streamlining their estate as they understand that cloud computing is not a technical achievement, but a tool to deliver a specific, individual business outcome.

Forward looking CIOs – or perhaps just wise ones! – will see that the key to successful cloud deployments that do deliver, are based upon responsibly consuming cloud alongside the other physical and virtual environments the business has. Hybrid IT will precede truly integrated Hybrid Cloud, and may indeed be essential to it.

[1] IDG Market Insight, CIO Perspectives on Digital Disruption: 45% of CIOs would explore the possibility of working more closely with hosting and MSPs.
[2] IDG Market Insight, CIO Perspectives on Digital Disruption: 72% CIOs cite support for remote and/or mobile working as very  or extremely important.

Gary WatsonGary Watson is general manager of Sungard AS Ireland and has been instrumental in the nurture, growth and development of Sungard AS’s Irish operations since 2010. During that time he has established the company’s credentials within Ireland’s managed hosting, cloud and availability services market, as well as attracting international firms looking for exemplary hosting support for their mission critical systems.