Welcome to 2017: the year of the cloud


The past year has thrown a spotlight on the importance of availability — both of services and data. Whether it is a mobile network outage causing lack of access to your data, or even the websites of low-cost airlines being unable to stay online when they are running massive specials on tickets, people have come to understand the importance of having access to accurate information and critical services on-demand.

This is even more so the case when downtime directly impacts their lives. Think back to earlier this year when the online learner admission process to register children for Grades one and eight in Gauteng went down. Suddenly, no parent could register children and the schools were not accepting manual admissions. Even when the system finally worked, there were errors on the data capturing side with many submissions not saving properly.

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As we move into 2017, businesses will increasingly need to embrace customer expectations and ensure seamless delivery of services. From an IT perspective, there are four key trends that businesses will need to embrace in order to exceed the expectations of customers and partners alike:

Blurring lines between public, private, and hybrid clouds

A few years ago, the thought of extending data centre infrastructure to a hyper-public cloud may have seemed a futile endeavour of connectivity, security and a mix of unknown surprises. However, now the market is ready to accept the adoption of hybrid cloud architectures from both the infrastructure and application side.

It’s already happening and much greater mainstream adoption is on the horizon as enterprises look to enhance operational agility and reliability, while ensuring that data and applications are available at any time, from anywhere.

The explosion of the software-defined infrastructure

It’s no secret that the software-defined data centre has been a huge trend in recent years — thanks in part to the popularity of virtualisation. Running applications in a virtualised environment brings many advantages for companies to help build efficiencies, provide reliability and a flexible IT infrastructure to ease management and free time and resources. As businesses evolve, expect to see more demands on vendors to provide software and services to meet the expectations of the next generation of innovators.

Stay one step ahead of hackers

Threats from hacking, as well as the proliferation of botnets, and malware (specifically ransomware) will keep IT managers up at night throughout 2017. We’ve seen enormous burdens placed on organisations looking to maintain availability during 2016, with large attacks on DNS services causing major companies and services to be unreachable during critical times.

As more businesses look to provide digital services, the hackers will be nipping at their heels. More than ever before, businesses will need to place additional emphasis on end-to-end data security, backup and recovery to ensure their services remain available for partners and customers.

More data, more possibilities

The data centre of today, and definitely of tomorrow, will increasingly hold more data – both historical and mission-critical. Whether it be an influx of inputs from the Internet of Things, more complex business systems, or growing amounts of existing data sets, the conclusion is obvious: the data deluge will continue. On the positive side, this will bring benefits to businesses looking to leverage advanced analytics to hone their existing operations and provide new services to customers.

As the calendar ticks over to 2017, businesses will be able to gain more insight from the data they have collected; helping shape decisions and inform business strategies. However, these analytic capabilities will only bear fruit if data is both available and robust.

For businesses relying on advanced analytics to drive operations, any downtime not only halts the ability to transact with customers and suppliers, but also stymies informed decision-making. Businesses will need to direct their attention to maintaining availability of mission-critical systems that underpin their analytics.

The technology landscape today offers endless possibilities for organisations to provide great services based on the data centre and the information a data centre both houses and delivers. The expectation is that data is available on-demand. Gone are the days where downtime is considered a “normal” part of doing business.

In 2017, the data centre will take centre stage and will serve as a critical piece of infrastructure to both store information and provide services to customers, employees and partners alike. Having a plan to ensure availability will be vital to maintaining business operations to meet — and exceed — expectations.

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