Gartner's 10 big trends that will change how IT operates

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At Gartner Symposium 2016, Gartner analyst David Cappuccio explained why IT operational excellence is table stakes.

Image: Jason Hiner/TechRepublic

Following the majestic vision of IT as a society-shaping force—laid out by Peter Sondergaard in the Gartner Symposium opening keynote—David Cappuccio walked on stage Monday and brought a couple thousand technology leaders back to earth.

With a hat tip to the keynote, Cappuccio said, “That’s the art of the possible… This is the art of the probable”

Cappuccio drilled down on one of the footnotes of Sondergaard’s soaring keynote—that even as IT takes on a broader role, it must also maintain operational excellence. It can’t afford to let that slip, or the repercussions will be severe—especially as customers rely more heavily on digital.

For example, he reminded the audience that if you lose a customer then getting them back is about four times as expensive as keeping them. And if your operations aren’t good enough, you’ll shed customers. It can now take as little as 4 seconds of wait time to lose one.

But with today’s tools and best practices, top notch IT departments have the opportunity to run their tech infrastructure better than ever—even when they don’t own it.

“If it’s done right, you can centrally operate, orchestrate, and automate,” he said.

Cappuccio outlined Gartner’s top 10 tech trends affecting IT operations, breaking them down into three categories: strategic, tactical, and organizational.

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Image: Gartner

1. Disappearing data centers

It’s no secret that organizations are now equally as infatuated with the cloud as they were once wary of it. It’s important to remember that “even those these workloads are moving, we in IT are still responsible for them,” said Cappuccio. So IT has to get really smart about what to put in the cloud and where, and always think of the downstream effects on things such as storage and bandwidth.

2. Interconnect fabrics

With more services and applications being connected to different clouds and vendors as well back to internal systems, IT needs to orchestrate the ways they all interconnect in a purposeful manner. They ultimately want “services delivered from the right place, for the right price, from the right platform.”

3. Containers, microservices, and application streams

Containers represent the new technology to embody agile development and deliver applications in faster and more modular ways. “It makes IT a much more dynamic entity.”

4. Business-driven IT

“At least 29% of IT spend is outside the IT organization.” That’s because IT and its processes are too slow and cumbersome, so business units just outsource it themselves. IT needs to reset the playing field, not to get more control but to get more involved.

5. Data Center as a Service

Cappuccio’s message here was that “it’s about the application, not the infrastructure” and “it’s not about ‘my data center’—it’s about delivering compute resources to the business, the best way possible.”

6. Stranded capacity

Sysadmins have one primary metric: if it’s red, fix it, and if it’s green, leave it alone. The problem with that is that lots of green things take up resources and cost money even after they no longer serve a purpose. That’s how we end up with ghost servers and VM creep. It has to apply discipline to this in order to manage costs.

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Image: Gartner

7. Impact of the IoT

IoT projects and deployments are popping up everywhere from business units chasing new business value. However, they are creating a tremendous amount of complexity, vendor lock-in, and integration challenges. The relative immaturity of IoT also makes it a bit difficult for IT to get its arms around it.

8. Remote device (thing) management

For Cappuccio, the lack of an industry standard IoT software platform means that IT will be called on to integrate IoT products and deployments. “At some point, IT is going to have to support these things.” For that reason, IT needs to think about architecting a solution for when the organization moves to an enterprise-wide IoT strategy. It’s bound to happen as IoT matures and proliferates, and if IT doesn’t act then the organizations could end up with dozens of incompatible systems.

9. Micro and edge computing environments

With today’s enterprises pushing massive amounts of data to many different clouds and backend systems, performance can become an issue. This can become especially problematic when uber-fast, real-time data analysis or machine learning is in play. That’s why smart IT departments are architecting new networks that can push processing out to the “edge” of the network.

10. New roles in IT

With all of these tectonic plates shifting, it creates the demand for different types of job roles that IT hasn’t had in the past. The slide below shows the six that Cappuccio has flagged. He stressed that IoT Architect is one that Gartner is pushing and Strategy Architect is one who plans out API-powered ecosystems (like the ones mentioned in Sondergaard’s keynote).

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Image: Gartner

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