Softcat predictions for 2015

Posted on Thursday, January 22, 2015
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By Sam Routledge
Chief Technology Officer


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Well, our predictions for 2014 weren’t too far off the mark – now it’s time to look forward into 2015 to see what we think will happen over the next 12 months. I thought I’d change the structure slightly this year and go for two ‘bets’ for each of our main technology practices:?

Datacentre infrastructure

The year of ‘hyper-converged’?

One of the big buzz words in infrastructure at the minute is ‘hyper-converged’ or ‘hyperscale’. This basically means following the model common in internet-scale platforms such as Amazon and Facebook – a bunch of fairly standard servers with local disk, with software presenting the storage back up, thus allowing a scale-out architecture without the need for up front purchase of a SAN. Don’t get me wrong – SANs are not going to disappear in the near future, but we expect to see VDI, test/dev environments – basically stuff that requires flexibility and linear scaling to move to this model. Newer organisations such as Nutanix have been driving this trend for a while – and now VMware, EMC, HP etc are getting in on the act. Organisations should be investigating hyper-convergence to see where this scaling model could benefit their IT business model.?

Flash takes over?

We’ve seen a huge amount of uptake of SSD/ flash technologies in storage over the last couple of years. As with hyper-converged, for a period this was the domain of the startups, but every storage vendor now has flash in play. With the advent of 2Tb and 4Tb SSDs as well as storage efficiency technologies widely available, many organisations will find that they are able to follow a flash-only strategy for production workloads.?

Networking and security

SDN hits the big-time?

No predictions article for 2015 would be complete without a reference to Software Defined Networking!? Towards the end of last year we started to see a huge amount of customer interest; now we are seeing real, live production deployments. If you would benefit from being able to automate and manage changes in your networking environment more quickly, or if you have a need to wrap security more tightly round workloads within the data centre (as opposed to traffic that enters and leaves), now’s the time to start evaluating where this might fit into your plans for the next couple of years.?

Automated remediation?

Finding and removing threats/ breaches to the network has traditionally relied upon signatures and heuristics to detect malware, usually coupled with a manual process to remove it. With an increased threat level, 24/7 operations, and a stretched IT team, organisations will increasingly find that their security software will detect, flag and remediate such breaches. Initially this is likely to be an extension of endpoint security solutions but over time it will get deeper into the network.?

End user computing

Applications and data, not desktops?

Give the people what they want, and it isn’t (often) a desktop. Since 2007 people have consumed applications, data, and services via little squares across a myriad of devices, so it comes as no surprise that we expect 2015 to see the continued decline of full desktops, in favour of the secure corporate workspace populated with your consumers’ favourite corporate apps and data.?

Firepower and Contextual Workspaces?

The issues of performance, graphics, security, connectivity and cost* that have historically scuppered the adoption of VDI and other EUC deployments have now been addressed (*as long as the business case stacks up!). We can now provide enough firepower to run a high-end 3D CAD operation, along with the security, confidence and connectivity to run it from a cloud service should you so choose. With these distractions out of the way, 2015 will see focus swing back towards user experience. 2015 will be about delivering contextually appropriate workspaces, populated with apps, data and services based on the user, device, location, time and licences available. Whilst we suspect that 2016/17 will see this taken to the next level with the introduction of software which starts to anticipate consumer needs before they even know they have them.?

The corporate workspace is the desktop of the future, and in 2015 we’d say it is probably the desktop of now…?

Unified Communications

Hosted UC?

We see a really important development here as the model for UC starts to move towards a hosted mode. Sometimes we see customers struggle to justify the capital expense of moving to a new-generation communications platform. The hosted model will start to solve this, as organisations can potentially swap their maintenance payments on existing telephony systems for new technology services without the up-front costs.?

BYOD UC?

Enabled by the migration to unified communications platforms and encouraged by the growth in consumer services such as Skype and FaceTime, we expect the trend of more ad-hoc video to continue. Most such services are now available on the majority of mobile platforms, so we think that 2015 is the year of BYOD UC. There’s more to your mobility strategy than a few iPads and mobile email…?

Overall, we expect a continued shift towards consuming a service rather than buying technology, particularly where infrastructure is concerned. IT departments can’t afford the time and the people to run stuff that doesn’t differentiate the business. We have seen very strong growth in our cloud and managed services business and we expect to see this continue. A particular focus will probably be on security technologies, which require particular expertise – many organisations can’t justify employing the security experts required – or can’t find them!

Sam Routledge - Softcat Solutions Director

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