By Atish Gude, Chief Strategy Officer, NetApp
2019 was a year of rapid innovation – and disruption – for both the IT industry and the broader business community. With the widespread adoption of hybrid multicloud as the de-facto architecture for enterprise customers, organizations everywhere are under tremendous pressure to modernize their infrastructure and deliver tangible business value around data-intensive applications and workloads.
As a result, organizations are shifting from on-premises to leverage public cloud services, building private clouds, and moving from disk to flash in data centers – sometimes concurrently. These transformations open the door to enormous potential, but also introduce the unintended consequence of rising IT complexity.
We predict that a demand for simplicity and customizability will be the number-one factor driving IT purchasing decisions in 2020. Vendors will need to provide customers modern, flexible technologies with the choice of how to use and consumes these technologies to meet evolving business models. As IT departments look to de-emphasize maintenance and hardware, reduce overhead, and adopt pay-as-you-go models, simplicity and choice will be key.
Achieving this simplicity will serve as the foundation for companies as they navigate the exciting technological trends we’ve identified below.
1) As the advent of 5G makes AI-driven IoT a reality, edge computing environments are primed to become even more disruptive than cloud was
In preparation for the widespread emergence of 5G, lower-cost sensors and maturing AI applications will be leveraged to build compute-intensive edge environments, laying the groundwork for high bandwidth, low latency AI-driven IoT environments with the potential for huge innovation – and disruption
The advent of 5G is what AI-driven IoT has been waiting for. 2020 will see many players in the technology industry and business community invest in building edge-computing environments to support the reality of AI-driven IoT. These environments will make possible new use-cases that rely on intelligent, instantaneous and autonomous decision-making, with low latency, high bandwidth capabilities bringing us to a world where the internet will work on your behalf – without even having to ask.
The AI-driven IoT revolution, however, will be dependent on a massive prioritization of edge computing, further disrupting IT infrastructures and data management priorities. As edge devices move beyond home devices (like connected thermostats and speakers) and become more far-reaching (such as connected solar farms), more data centers will be placed at the edge, and software such as AIOps will be necessary to help monitor complex environments across edge-to-core-to-cloud.
2) The impact of blockchain will be undeniable as indelible ledgers rapidly enable game-changing use cases outside of cryptocurrency
The world is quickly moving beyond Bitcoin to adopt enterprise-distributed indelible ledgers, setting the stage for a transformation exponentially bigger than the impact cryptocurrency has had on blockchain in finance
While the crypto frenzy continues to steal the limelight when it comes to blockchain, most in the industry understand the bigger picture of the technology and its potential: going into 2020, we’ll see a tipping point for larger implementations as the enterprise goes a step further to adopt indelible ledgers or “Hyperledgers,” which represent the maturation of blockchain for wider use-cases. Indeed, we’ll start to see blockchain go “mainstream” as it enables industries such as healthcare to create universal patient records, improve chain-of-custody pharmaceutical processes and more.
With use cases such as the above validating blockchain and hyperledgers, additional widespread adoption of the technology will drive transformation across society on a larger scale, building on the disruption cryptocurrency has brought to finance to touch nearly every industry. As a result, new data management and compute capabilities will encourage companies to invest in indelible ledgers to build differentiated applications and collaborate on critical, sensitive data sets.
3) Hardware-based Composable Architecture will have less short-term potential against commodity hardware and software-based Infrastructure Virtualization
Continued improvements in commodity hardware performance, software-based virtualization, and micro-service software architectures will eliminate much of the performance advantage of proprietary hardware-based composable architectures, relegating them to niche datacenter roles in the near future.
Hardware-based composable architecture is being hyped as the next evolution of hyperconverged infrastructure, allowing CPUs, networking cards, workload accelerators, and storage resources to be distributed across a rack-scale architecture and connected with low-latency PCIe-based switching. And while there is potential, standardization has been slow, and adoption even slower. Meanwhile, software-based virtualization of storage, combined with software-based (but hardware accelerated) compute and networking virtualization solutions, offer much of the flexibility of hardware-based composable architectures today with lower cost and consistently increasing performance.
Next year, attempts to build a true hardware-based rack-scale computing model will no doubt continue, and the space will continue to evolve quickly, but the majority of organizations that need to transform within 2020 will be best-served by the combination of modern HCI architectures (including disaggregated HCI) and software-based virtualization and containerization.