2011 was a year of significant IT innovation, with major advances in both consumer and business sectors. It was also the year of ‘cloud’, but as we say goodbye to 2011, what does 2012 have in store for us? As I sit here in Geneva, I am going to look into my crystal ball and outline the top technology trends we should watch out for in 2012:
BYOD’ (Bring Your Own Device) changes IT procurement – the company PC is becoming a thing of the past, as businesses increasingly allow, and even encourage, employees to bring their domestic, consumer devices into the workplace and access corporate applications. This will allow application availability at anytime, from anywhere, and will help business slash procurement costs. The smartphone/tablet phenomenon will fuel this trend, and will drive uptake of Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), wireless networking and end-point security solutions in the corporate arena. However, it will create many problems for IT departments as they attempt to mitigate risk, and signals a tough future for PC and laptop manufacturers. Next year, I believe we will see at least one high profile security disaster as a result of this trend, and that will be act as a wake-up call for companies to get proper security processes in place before unlocking their networks to all and sundry.
Campus LAN gets smart – with ‘BYOD’, the growth of smartphone/tablet usage among consumers and the Unified Communications market set to triple by 2015, the Campus LAN will have to step up to the plate to meet demand - 2012 will be the year the campus gets smart. Legacy environments will not be able to cope with the huge pressures being placed on them; high-performance applications (such as video streaming, IPTV, real-time image transfer and distance learning) will suffer as a result and productivity/revenue/brand reputation will fall. I predict that by the summer of 2012, we’ll see enterprise-class characteristics introduced into campus LAN solutions at a more affordable price point. This level of innovation will, for the first time, give companies the simplicity and performance required to meet modern business demands and transform the way campus-wide networks are engineered.
Rise of ‘Cloud Service Revenue’ – 2011 saw organisations slowly moving towards the cloud and this pragmatic adoption will continue in 2012, but will also see the rise of a new form of revenue generation as enterprises from outside the technology sector move towards ‘Cloud Service Provision’. In the current economy, businesses look to sweat every asset at their disposal and more and more will look to leverage their data centre environments to offer cloud services as an additional revenue stream. Those companies wishing to address this burgeoning market will need to have the right data centre architecture in place – a highly virtualised, fabric-based network topology, delivering reliability and performance to meet strict SLAs – to respond to customer demands, and I predict that we will see some high profile casualties as a result of providers trying to make a fast buck.
Greater commoditisation – IT commoditisation will continue through 2012. The maturity of server virtualisation means that hardware is less important; as real estate/energy costs spiral and companies look to reduce capital outlay (CapEx), virtualisation strategies will permeate all companies and the CXO will become more vocal in whether or not their organization has a plan in place. Traditional, enterprise-owned, clients will become obsolete and businesses will turn to virtualised or even hosted, environments to reduce TCO through procurement of lower cost hardware. Companies that get this right will reap the benefits, but they will need to make sure that the network foundation upon which all virtual environments operate is fit for purpose; get this wrong and soldier on regardless and there will be many, many problems.
Data consumption continues to sky-rocket – 2011 was the year in which ‘Big Data’ stole headlines, but this trend will continue unabated through 2012. The last five years have been awash with new ways to generate, consume and store data – in 2011, the average smartphone user consumed 15Mb of data each day, but this will grow to 1Gb by 2020; as consumers, we will place huge demand on networking and storage resources because of this. Businesses will need to look at innovative solutions to increase network stability and performance while driving down costs to remain competitive. Those who ignore this trend will face major problems, and we may see one or two more examples!
And finally… the year of the FABRIC – Holistic data centre fabrics – from the storage environment through to the Ethernet network – are going to be the big trend in 2012. All my previous predictions will rely on this. Fabric-based architectures will become mainstream, building on the success of early adopter businesses that have reaped the benefits of flat, reliable, high performance networks that can offer simplified management and increased business agility. This trend will see a fundamental attitude-shift to data centre design, and will underpin many of the aforementioned predictions. After all, the network is the heart and lungs of modern business and without it simple actions like sending an email or accessing a document, taken for granted by all of us, would be impossible. Fabrics will revolutionise network design and change the networking landscape… forever.
Don’t agree with me? Then let me know what you think will be hot next year, but either way I am looking forward to 2012 and tackling the market challenges head on....