6 enterprise IT trends to watch in 2017

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New year, new you technology. To kick off 2017 right, we’re here to enlighten you on all the technology trends, disruptors and themes this next trip around the sun will bring. (Check out what happened in 2016 here.) Each week this January, we’ll share a new blog post from our experts about what to expect in 2017 and how you and your business can prepare. Happy New Year! 

Which enterprise technologies and trends do you think will be big this year? Let us know on Twitter with #TechIn2017. 

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I know the feeling. You know, the seemingly impossible (sometimes frustrating) task to stay current with technology. Yet, if you focus in on a few key areas to learn in-depth, this daunting task becomes much more manageable, and more importantly, empowering. 

So, how do you narrow it down? What enterprise technologies should IT infrastructure people focus on this year? Here are my recommendations for the top six technology trends in 2017:

1. Hybrid cloud

You can't deny it; applications are moving more and more to the public cloud. For enterprise IT people, that doesn't mean that you stay rooted in your old ways of doing things. It means you need to improve your knowledge of cloud technologies to stay relevant and become your company's trusted cloud advisor. Knowledge of Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure and OpenStack are vital in 2017. 

Understanding public cloud is critical, but it’s also important to have a solid understanding of hybrid cloud. The simplest way of defining hybrid cloud is when on-premises and off-premises applications are working together in some way (and some might disagree with that). In 2017, you’ll need to consider how your local data center (or perhaps private cloud) can work with public clouds. 

2. Containers

Because of their convenience and efficiency, many say that the container abstractions are better than virtual machines for running applications. While Docker is the biggest name in container technologies, there are many challengers and complementary software solutions in the container ecosystem. Of course, there is also overlap between containers and hybrid cloud, which makes both of these technologies important in this new year. 

3. Software-defined networking (SDN) and storage

While VMware may have coined the term “Software Defined Data Center (SDDC),” the concept is being adopted across all data centers, whether you use VMware’s technologies or not. Server virtualization was the original “software defined compute” and with that silo mostly software-defined now, enterprises are starting to virtualize storage, networking and, from there, turn to automation (which we’ll cover more of below). Enterprises are using SDDC because it eliminates the enterprise data center’s reliance on dedicated storage and networking hardware while bringing greater efficiency and agility to the business.

When software-defined storage is combined with server virtualization and managed from a single interface, it's sold as “hyperconvergence.” A great resource to learn about hyperconvergence is hyperconverged.org.

And lastly, note there is almost always some connection back to hybrid cloud with software-defined networking and storage.

4. Automation and orchestration

Of course, the underlying theme to almost all of these technologies is greater efficiency and agility. Automation and orchestration are the epitome of that. Automation allows you to repeatedly perform common tasks quickly and efficiently. If you were to script something you do (like setting up a new user account), this is automation. Orchestration works at a higher level. Imagine the efficiency your team and business could experience if you were to orchestrate the provisioning of a new employee’s technology services across multiple systems (i.e. push a button and not only is their user account setup, but so is their Office 365 email account, Salesforce account, ERP account, file share created, etc). And maybe you’re already doing this, but as we know, there’s always room for improvement when it comes to streamlining process. 

5. Security

You’d have to live on Mars to have missed the news about all the security breaches in 2016. In fact, it’s likely that you have personally been hit with one – in some way – whether you’re aware of it or not. No matter if you’re CIO or CTO, independent developer, IT support tech, IT architect or office manager, security is everyone’s responsibility. As a company’s data and applications become divided between on and off-premises (think hybrid cloud, again), security becomes even more paramount. Here’s why security training and education is the most important company-wide security policy you can implement at your org.  

6. DevOps tools

As IT organizations push for greater efficiency, one of the best ways to do it is to break down the traditional (and inefficient) IT silos. One of the most popular ways to do that is to combine development and operations, which is popularly called “DevOps.” Often, automation and hybrid cloud can apply to DevOps in some way.

Bonus: Programming / coding

Finally, the bonus skill that I recommend all IT professionals learn is how to program (or “code,” as the cool kids call it). While this list is mainly about IT infrastructure technologies and trends, it’s crucial to recognize the overlap – that’s becoming increasingly more prevalent – between infrastructure and code (there is even something called “infrastructure as code”).

As traditional data centers become more software-defined, as development and operations begin to meld together, as we want to script / automate all our IT processes, it just makes more and more sense to learn how to code.

Summary

2017 is a year where more technologies and processes become integrated. And the more you can push your teams to innovate, adopt new ways of doing things and skill up in areas that may not be their core jobs, the better, smarter and more valuable you and your team become. 

Learn more: 6 BIG technology changes in 2017

Contributor

David Davis

David has authored over 50 courses for Pluralsight around enterprise data center technologies such as cloud computing, virtualization, and (especially) VMware vSphere. He is a partner at ActualTechMedia.com where he creates compelling enterprise technology content, moderates online events, and helps to connect some of the best-known technology companies in the industry with the end user community. With over 20 years in enterprise technology, he has served as an IT Manager, administrator, and instructor. David is an 11x VMWare vExpert, VCP, VCAP, & CCIE# 9369.