10 things to expect in 2014

10 things to expect in 2014
Matt Hurford, national systems engineering manager, NetApp Australia and New Zealand

2014 is now underway, and if last year was anything to go by, it is set to be a year of significant technological change. As new IT trends emerge, technologies that began to impact organisations in 2013 will also continue to evolve, bringing with them flow-on effects for the IT industry as a whole and laying the foundations for future innovation.

At NetApp, we think there are two key themes that will dominate our conversations about the industry in 2014. The first is the “parting of the clouds” into a hybrid cloud of clearly distinguished IT service offerings, while the second is an acceleration in the adoption of a variety of technologies that first began to take hold during the past two years.

With the pace of technological innovation in today’s business landscape becoming ever more rapid, being ahead of the IT game is becoming increasingly important for organisations in many sectors. In particular, we see 10 important trends that will give organisations a strong competitive advantage:

1. Hybrid clouds become the dominant vision for enterprise IT
2014 will see a resolving of the tension within organisations about whether or not to make the move to the cloud. Organisations will begin to recognise that a hybrid cloud model is needed to serve their application portfolio, and will respond by sorting workloads into various groups; those they need complete control over (which will be housed in on-premise private clouds), those they need only partial control over (for enterprise public clouds), and finally those that are more transient or can be purchased as SaaS.

This shift will have enormous repercussions for IT teams, whose role will begin to require them to act as brokers across these diverse cloud models. It will also uncover a growing need to move application data more seamlessly between various clouds, with organisations searching for new ways to make this a reality.

2. Hunger Games begin for flash startups
The flash market exploded in 2013, and will continue to see increased growth this year. As a result, IT companies servicing this customer demand will begin to compete more intensely, as the battle between mainstream players and bleeding edge all-flash offerings takes off. Customers will choose offerings that enable them to deploy the right level of performance, reliability, and scalability for their specific needs and workloads, and will begin to expect increasingly tailored solutions.

3. If you work in IT, you will become a service provider
As CIOs move toward the new model in which they will be responsible for managing a portfolio of cloud services, internal IT teams will be increasingly seen as one more service option. IT owned by the organisation will be thought of as part of its ‘private cloud’, so the same expectations for service levels, responsiveness and cost competitiveness will apply as to any external cloud options.

4. Reality vs. hype becomes clear around Software Defined Storage
The Software Defined Datacenter vision is rapidly gaining widespread industry acceptance, and the ways in which infrastructure components will evolve is so becoming clearer. In 2014, policy-based software control over traditional infrastructure components will begin to take root in the datacenter, as virtual versions of infrastructure components become more common. The most valuable of these virtual components will be ones that can seamlessly integrate with the existing physical network and storage systems, whilst offering features and services consistent with those offered by traditional physical controllers.

5. Storage Virtual Machines enable data mobility and application agility
Just as Virtual Machines enabled the movement of running applications between physical servers, this year Storage Virtual Machines will liberate data from specific physical storage. These logical containers of data volumes will simplify migration of workloads between storage clusters, enabling highly available storage clusters in metro areas.  

6. OpenStack survives the hype, moves beyond early adopters
OpenStack will continue to gain momentum in 2014, fast becoming the ‘open’ alternative to commercial products for datacenter orchestration. As OpenStack distributions become more ‘product’ than ‘project’, more enterprises and service providers will make the move to adopt it.

7. Questions on data sovereignty will impact private and public storage
The widespread adoption of cloud computing and storage services has challenged traditional geopolitical barriers, generating new concerns among large enterprises regarding the government disclosure laws their data will be subject to. In 2014, many organisations in Australia and New Zealand will place a focus on seeking hybrid cloud options that allow them to maintain sovereign control of their data while still taking advantage of cloud computing economics.  

8. 40GbE adoption takes off in the datacenter
The next evolution of the Ethernet, 40Gb, will begin widespread adoption at the core of the datacenter this year. As such, data growth will be encouraged by the significantly higher bandwidths afforded by 40GbE, in addition to its capability of moving larger datasets more quickly and easily. 

9. Big Data evolves and the collection of new data becomes a priority
In 2014, adoption rates of Big Data solutions will continue to ramp up, with a focus on tools that enable the organisation to consume data trends via visualisation products and end-user tools. Additionally, as companies derive value from their existing data, they will start to seek new data that will further their insight; new devices will emerge to gather information on consumer behaviors, industrial processes, and natural phenomena. Organisations will also begin to grapple with the question of how to transform their business processes and operations to respond to the new insights to be gained from this data analysis. The snowball effect will be evident, as companies race against their competitors to analyse and respond to data trends.

10. Clustered Storage, Converged Infrastructure, Object Storage and In-Memory Databases all continue their momentum in 2014
Several technology trends that built momentum in 2013 will continue to grow. Foremost amongst these are Clustered Storage and Converged Infrastructure, which in 2014 will become the most compelling building block of the datacenter. Object Storage will grow in adoption as applications that monetise vast capacities of data objects gather momentum. Finally, in-memory databases will enter the mainstream this year, spurred by the popularity of SAP HANA.