Welcome to 2018 – no doubt another year of advancement for the tech industry. Is it me or is the pace of change speeding up? It feels like companies are really starting to embrace the 'digital' agenda; that is probably both accelerating and accelerated by technological progress. If you are not preparing your IT to support your organisation's digital strategy when that hits the top of the agenda, now's the time to start.
We have four themes that we think are the cornerstones of a digital strategy, and will enable IT to support what your organisation is trying to achieve in 2018:
Cloud and the distributed datacentre
In 2018 we should all try to 'Be More Cloud'. This doesn't mean necessarily blindly moving all your workloads to public cloud – in fact we are very much more advocates of a 'cloud where appropriate' rather than 'cloud first' strategy. The more stuff you can move out, though, the less resource you need to commit to running your own infrastructure. Or perhaps you want to make your own infrastructure more cloud-like?
2018 is the year to make sure your people can consume your applications and services in the way that makes sense for them. End User Computing & Mobility is no longer about desktops and virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) – it’s about application delivery, identity and access management, secure and frictionless access from the right device.
In 2018, not making the most of your data is virtually a crime! Most organisations store too much, but don’t make the most of what they have. Of course, the less data you hold, the lower your exposure to GDPR – but you need to make sure you have the right stuff nailed down, and that your organisation can make the most of it. 2018 is the year to get your data architecture right!
Less a separate area, more of a thread that runs through everything you do. With increasing regulation (GDPR; the ePrivacy regulation; NIS directive…) and an ever-increasing threat landscape, we need a new approach to security. We need to build it in rather than wrap it around the outside – especially as we open our network to BYOD, IoT and no doubt a host of other acronyms…
If we get all of these things right, we IT folk can create a really strong platform for our organisation's digital efforts. Cloud-like infrastructure will help you to move quickly and provide a platform for innovation; mobility will enable you to provide a wonderful experience to your team and your customers; unearthing your data will enable your organisation to plan their digital future; and building in security will help you to protect your brand and ensure customer trust. With all of this in place, you have a strong platform from which to 'do' digital.
Edgy, cloudy and hybrid – our predictions for the year ahead?
So, these are the four areas on which we will concentrate for the year ahead. Talking of 2018, what are our predictions for the next twelve months?
- GDPR will bite someone – and bite hard.
The General Data Protection Regulation comes into full force on 25th May 2018. Judging by the number of customers we've helped with both policy and supporting technology over the last 18 months, UK PLC is well-prepared. However, not every organisation will have done what they need to do. We would expect the first couple of companies that are found to be in breach of the legislation to 'have an example made of them' and to be hit pretty hard by the ICO.
- Hybrid Cloud will become the standard.
With VMware Cloud on AWS and Microsoft Azure Stack finally providing the same software stack on premises and in the public cloud, this is the year that true Hybrid Cloud will become a reality for most organisations. It's also the year where you will have to make sure you wrap operational management, governance and security around your cloud deployments. While we're covering cloud, we'd expect AWS to continue growing – but all the stats suggest that Azure (and Google, Alibaba etc) are gaining market share...
- You won't buy an AI.
While artificial intelligence will continue as a buzz phrase, most organisations won't need to become experts in AI technologies themselves – instead they will start to use products and services that have AI embedded within them. Examples will include some of the security providers, and industry-specific providers such as Luminance for surfacing relevant case notes and history for legal firms.
- Collaboration will become part of the modern workplace.
With Skype and Teams from Microsoft, and Cisco's Webex and Spark, your options for collaboration across your business and outside of it are more powerful than ever. This stuff has traditionally been looked upon as separate to desktop and application delivery but if you are going to mobilise your people it makes sense to make their mobile collaboration experience as glorious as possible at the same time.
- The security juggernaut will keep rolling.
New threats will emerge, with new ways for cyber-criminals to monetise their activities. New products will emerge that purport to solve those issues. And the landscape will get more complicated. We'll go into more detail in our security predictions article next week.
- Things get 'edgy'.
Some of the vendors have been touting it for a year or two, but we are really starting to see the emergence of 'edge computing' technology. Not all applications work in the cloud – some stuff needs to be provided locally for latency purposes. It's also not always appropriate to send all of your data back to the cloud – and often expensive. It can make sense to do some local analytics work and only transmit the relevant data. This is not a move away from the potential of cloud – in fact it is often part of making a cloud strategy work for your business.
Happy 2018 to all our wonderful Softcat customers; if you need guidance on your tech strategy as you plan for the year ahead, please get in touch with your account manager or via the button below.