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Suits vs ponytailed hipsters: What's next for enterprise IT

Enrico tells you what you won’t see in 2015

Shipping_Containers

Comment After all the predictions I read about 2015 (and many of them are pretty ridiculous) I can’t help but make my own, which I will approach in a totally different manner, using common sense first and trying to make an "anti-prediction" for enterprise IT in 2015.

100 per cent flash

Flash dominance? It won’t happen any time soon. Many (most?) tier one workloads will be moved to flash, of course, but data is adding up so quickly that it’s highly unlikely you will be seeing a 100 per cent data centre any time soon.

It will take a few years to have about 10-20 per cent of data stored on flash and the rest will remain on huge hard disks; cheap 10+TB hard disks will soon be broadly available, for example. For mid-sized businesses, hybrid will be around for even longer than a few years, simply because any different strategy is unaffordable.

From my point of view it will be much easier to see caching technology used to fill the gap between space and performance before seeing flash surpassing the 10-20 per cent level that I’m referring to.

Products and technologies like the ones in the hands of Diablo Technologies (Flash DIMMs) and software players like PernixData or Infinio, for example, will be slowing down this process even further. Over time we will see more large-scale hybrid solutions supporting fast access to the data lakes that enterprises are starting to build.

SanDisk second generation netbook flash

And, of course, this doesn’t mean that flash vendors won’t be growing like crazy this year.

Object storage

You won’t see a lot of object storage either – a hard thing for a fanboi like myself to say! It’ll happen eventually, but most of the vendors will stay in their niche until they can work out a better and more solution-based strategy. I have to admit that some of them are starting to work things out very well indeed. Yet they are still too small to make a dent in the market at the moment. Data growth will help see them through a successful year, but we’ll be seeing much more of them in 2016.

Open Stack - ties vs ponytails

I'm sorry to say but I just don’t see it happening, and there are a number of reasons why which, in all cases lead to the same conclusion: complexity and immaturity. Even though the number of ties at the OpenStack conferences is growing very fast, when compared to ponytails, we haven’t reached the right balance yet.

Tie

Too many projects, too many people involved (working against each other and on competing projects at times) and too many vendors looking for a way to make their solution more relevant than others. The community and everything surrounding it is very active and vibrant but when it comes down to reality, real world, easily reproducible use cases (or case histories) are still too few and far between to build a really significant Open Stack market.

On the other side you have public cloud, which is growing quite well (both in terms of features, capabilities and solutions), despite all its outages and defects. (more on this later).

The private cloud, seen as a new form of computing and not as an extension of your traditional virtual infrastructure (referring to VMware and Microsoft stacks), is only for few, and very big, end users. Its complexity is just too high for most end users.

Even if you target some startups and all the Fortune 2000 companies (which are huge spenders), how many of them are ready to embrace Open Stack? How many times can that project/product/distribution be replicated without a huge and high number of work hours? And will the developers be able to keep up the pace with all these 6-month releases that are coming out?

Last but not least, hybrid cloud is also getting some attention, but it’s hard to do with Open Stack. Making workloads move back and forth as well as controlling them on different Open Stack clouds (which also means different releases with different APIs and features) isn’t easy, is it?

If hybrid is the “short term” solution (and short term is in quotes because “short” could mean years in this case), I think we will find more and more solutions based on a sort of cloud-in-a-box approach. Microsoft and HDS systems are the first but others will surely follow.

And it’s simply because if you’ve already bought something like a converged or hyper-converged solution, it’s another step further towards IT simplification. For example, a new startup like Platform 9 (founded by a bunch of former VMware employees) is working on an interesting idea, a sort of Open Stack-based-management-platform-as-a-service. The product is still in pre-release but the way it’s implemented is very interesting. They are promoting it as SaaS but some of their early customers have already asked for an appliance… and I think they will eventually end up with something like that.

The end of cloud wars

This is an easy prediction to make, and is partly connected to what is happening with OpenStack. Microsoft is quickly becoming a cloud company (with a lot of openness – unusual in Microsoft’s history), Google is playing more seriously and Amazon is trying to keep its unquestionable leading position. It will be very interesting to see what happens, especially now that new interesting players (like Digital Ocean, for example) are coming up.

I’m not that confident we’ll be seeing VMware vCloud Air or IBM become as successful as Microsoft, Google and Amazon this year, but both will have some cards to play in 2016, if they stick to their strategy.

Containers (Docker or whatever)

If 2014 was the year of hype, 2015 will be the year of maturity and 2016 will be all about adoption. Long story short, this won’t be the year for containers but most of the needed backend and enabling tools will be maturing this year.

Shipping_Containers

The excitement is very high and most vendors will be supporting this technology soon on their products, if they haven’t already done so. It’s also obvious that many developers love this technology!

I can’t wait to see it on Windows Server for example. With some abstraction layers, that are already present but still immature, even some traditional applications could be partially redesigned with minimal effort to work in a container … and when some traditional and mission-critical applications hit the containers I think it will become a huge success.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see a more successful story with containers (and some specific cloud management tool for them) than with Open Stack in general… it won’t happen in 2015 for sure (at least not all of this), but 2016 will see a lot of end users (even traditional ones) adopting container technology.

Closing the circle

I know, it’s probably easier to predict what will happen in the not too near future (and nobody will remember this post in two years) just because in the short term it is always difficult to find definitive and clear winners. But common sense rules, okay? It always helps to keep your feet on the ground, even when you’re looking into the future.

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