It is now time for us to look over the past year and put together our “best of” compilations. However, I want to change that around and look at the best of 2018. Yes, next year. Pulling out my crystal ball, I see there is quite a bit to look forward to. 2017 was a year of transition. 2018 looks to be a year where those transitions pay off. Do you think this will be the case? What transitions are we actually talking about?
We have been slowly transitioning from local compute to cloud compute. From traditional applications to cloud-native applications. From wireless and other networking to software-defined networking of many types (SDN, SD-WAN, etc.) In essence, we have been transitioning from a very physical world to a highly automated world. A world where the systems are self-reliant, are self-repairing, and have phenomenal growth. We are heading into a world where even the smallest company does billions of transactions a day. Where the large companies do nearly trillions. Scale is no longer the determiner of company size: it is the requirement of the future.
Unprecedented scale is therefore the first best of our best of 2018
To achieve this scale, we need to rethink how we create applications, how we protect them. In effect, scale changes everything about a business. It has led to many a downfall due to lack of understanding regarding how to plan for such scale. The businesses that survive and actually grow have a firm understanding of how to scale, when to scale, and how to scale back. The business needs fluidity: fluidity that does not come from a static business plan. The business itself has to adapt to changing IT as well as the other way around.
Fluidity and adaptability of the business is our second best of 2018
In IT we talk velocity and volume, but in the business, we will begin to talk more about fluidity and adaptability. As IT learns to deal with velocity and volume better, the business needs to respond. However, velocity and volume of data forces some tough decisions to be made by the business. It is expensive to store that much data. So, when is it enough data for our purposes? Can we get rid of data, place it in cold storage? Does our data time out? With velocity and volume, data management comes to the forefront.
Data management is our third best of 2018
With data management comes data security. With velocity and volume comes security. With unprecedented scale come new ways to handle security. Security itself has become the big data problem of all big data problems. There is plenty of unstructured security data to investigate, yet we are still in need of millions of security workers. Into that need has come a group of companies that automate the security grunt work. Yet, still we need more workers. We often need more security.
2018 will therefore be the year of security at scale
As stated in the beginning, scale changes everything. Scale can make or break a business, but it can also seriously impact the security of the business. We have been transforming our IT for years, and this also requires transforming the business: a business that is highly automated, making business decisions easier, yet harder at the same time. Business decisions are easier in that data is readily available to prove a point—but also many contradictory points. Business decisions are also harder, as now the cold hard numbers impact people. We are seeing some of this now, but in 2018, it will accelerate.
Workforce retention will be an issue in 2018
As our needs change, the workforce must also change, as the goals of the business may also change. As we automate more subsystems, as our scale grows from that automation, we will see fewer people needed. Yet, you would think that once you scale up, you would need more people. You need more people to design and create the automation, but once it is running, the line of business needs fewer folks. This means the role of IT has to change from one of caretakers to doers: sort of a roving band of automation experts within an organization, who use automation to create new products for the business from the mountains of data collected.
Will this approach save the workforce? It depends on how shortsighted the business really is. 2018 is the year of automation, scale, and data. Those fit perfectly with the concepts of Internet of Things (IoT), DevOps, and Agile.