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“2017 will be an exciting time and may well be the beginning of a new era for productivity growth,” says Bertus Homan, Sales Director, Hitachi Data Systems South Africa.

Digital transformation will be a major business focus, and success will hinge on how successful we will be in leveraging the abundance of new technologies, with new processes and new skills. Transformation is not about making incremental improvements. It is about turning things upside down and taking exponential steps in a new direction. This will be very disruptive and will make us uncomfortable, but this will lead to growth.

Here are the top 10 trends we believe will have the biggest impact in 2017.

Data centre Trends

  1. Productivity gains will be more about people, process and business outcomes

Despite the explosion of new technology over the past 10 years, productivity has declined compared to the previous 10 years, even in the countries that are viewed to be the most tech savvy.

Labour productivity, or output per hour, is calculated by dividing an index of real output by an index of hours worked. While IT has become more cost efficient in terms of managing infrastructure, this has not translated into increases in business goods and services. IT will begin to be measured on business outcomes rather than by how many Terabytes can be managed by one FTE (Full Time Employee). The hope for digital transformation is to reverse this trend in productivity.

  1. The Agile transformation of IT

The mantra for IT will shift from doing more with less to doing more – faster. Businesses are under tremendous pressure to transform and that means implementing innovative new applications and platforms for all aspects of their business. More IT executives are adopting Agile methodologies, working with the business units from the beginning and getting their feedback on a regular basis. IT must rethink their processes and reskill their people and their CIO must become a “business” CIO rather than a cost centre manager.

  1. Buying models are changing

The market is shifting away from technology asset purchasing. Businesses are rethinking the buying model for their IT purchases both in infrastructure and services. This is influenced by the advantages of reduced costs, increased agility and improved time to value of cloud and hosted services.

  1. Accelerating transition to the cloud

Cloud-first strategies are the foundation for staying relevant in a fast-paced world, according to Ed Anderson, research vice-president at Gartner. IT managers will be developing skills in cloud monitoring, cloud workload performance and security management, and cloud capacity management. It is no longer a question of “whether” but “when”. Virtualisation, convergence, object storage and cloud management portals will facilitate the movement to cloud.

Technology Trends

  1. Bimodal IT

Companies that are not born in the cloud have systems of record that they must maintain and modernise while they transform to new systems of innovation. Bimodal IT refers to having two modes of IT, each designed to develop and deliver information and technology-intensive services in its own way:

  • Mode 1: Traditional — emphasises safety and accuracy
  • Mode 2: Nonlinear — emphasises agility and speed

IT must be able to manage both modes and implement systems that can bridge between these two modes. While some may consider this to be a data centre trend, this requires technology to integrate these two modes.

  1. Flash first

The TCO per bit cost for multi-terabyte flash is already lower than hard disks based on five-year projections for power, cooling, floor space, maintenance and ease of management. The cost argument against all flash is eliminated and you no longer have to argue with a user whether his data is tier 1 or 2. As a result, analysts are projecting that the revenue for flash storage will cross over the revenue for hard disks in 2017 as the transition to flash accelerates.

  1. A centralised data hub

Data is exploding, and data is becoming more valuable as we find ways to correlate data from different sources to gain more insight, or we repurpose old data for different uses. Data is our crown jewels, and IT will be creating a centralised data hub for better management, protection, governance and search of their data.

This centralised data hub will need to be an object store that can scale beyond the limitations of file systems, ingest data from different sources, and provide search and governance across public and private clouds and mobile devices.

  1. Real-time analysis, Hadoop, visualisation and predictive analytics will be a major focus

Predictive analytics is becoming more prevalent as businesses try to anticipate the events that affect their business. This trend will see the expanded use of in-memory databases, and streaming analytics platforms to provide real-time analysis of developing trends. Real-time analytics will be connected with Hadoop analytics for further analysis and results will be stored in an object store for the possibility of future analysis. Analytic tools like Pentaho will combine structured and unstructured data from different sources to provide a 360-degree view for analysis.

IT/OT/IoT trends

  1. Smart IT:  The integration of IT and OT

Operational technology (OT) data may be data from sensors or logs that can augment the data from IT to provide a more complete understanding of an event or process. This will be the foundation for smart banks, smart retail, smart transportation, smart manufacturing, etc. Retailers are already at the forefront combining operational data from in-store sensors and social media to optimise purchasing and supply chain systems. More businesses will be looking for data integration tools like Pentaho to integrate their IT and OT data.

  1. Growing awareness of IoT in the data centre

The internet of things (IoT) is the networking of physical devices, vehicles, buildings and other items – embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators and network connectivity that enable these objects to collect, exchange and even process data on the edge. The networking of things will impact every aspect of our lives. This goes beyond the integration of IT and OT and, except for a few applications like public safety, will not be a major IT trend in 2017. However, the decisions we make in IT in 2017 should be made with an eye to IoT. The integration of IT and OT with analytics is the first step. To address IoT requires more than the vertical integration of industry silos, but a horizontal platform of reusable components so that the front end is integrated with the backend business systems.