Michael Segal, area VP, strategy, at Netscout, says that 2018 will be characterised by rapid transformation, smart data and mission-critical connectivity.
With more than one-third of IT Professionals citing ‘moving faster’ as their top goal for 2018, and an overwhelming 99 per cent of IT and business decision-makers noticing an increasing pace of change in today’s connected world, it’s clear that speed has become intrinsically linked to business success.
For companies looking to compete in the digital economy, this pace of transformation is being driven by their customers and requires speedy software releases, agility through cloud services, and automation.
Speed becomes a primary business objective
As we look ahead to next year, we therefore expect businesses to place increased focus on accelerating the development and deployment of applications, while maintaining quality and cutting costs: two juxtaposing tasks. To achieve this, more and more companies will look to move applications to the cloud and deliver services through virtualised data centres.
However, in the rush to embrace digital transformation (DX), organisations must ensure they don’t lose sight of whether virtualisation is delivering real business value. To best evaluate its effectiveness, it is imperative that organisations continuously monitor their entire infrastructure to provide a 360-degree view of business services, which will enable them to quickly identify current or potential problems.
Assuring networks will be paramount
DX will also power a surge in momentum for the IoT, with the number of connected devices predicted to reach 23.14bn by 2018. Next year, we expect to see the IoT continue to touch all aspects of the digital economy, unlocking enormous benefits in a wide range of sectors, from agriculture to automotive. With more and more IoT technologies underpinning critical applications, such as disaster monitoring and military situational awareness, service delivery assurance will come into sharp focus.
One such critical application that will launch in April next year is the EU’s pioneering eCall initiative, which requires all new cars to be equipped with technology that dials the emergency services in the event of a serious accident and shares data regarding the crash location, if no passenger is able to speak.
Estimated to save hundreds of lives a year and ensure injured people can be helped more quickly, the technology highlights the benefits that IoT services can bring and the importance of assuring a flawless delivery of this mission-critical service.
As the amount of IoT devices and use cases surges, businesses will be under increasing pressure to maintain connectivity and communication across a myriad devices and infrastructures. In 2018, assured delivery of IoT services will therefore become a key determiner for success.
With the UK government recently earmarking additional funding to help develop 5G, IoT applications and services would significantly benefit by utilising 5G technology to achieve truly ubiquitous, reliable, scalable, and cost-efficient device-to-device connectivity between nearby mobiles. This would support use cases such as vehicle-to-vehicle communications, public safety, or mobile data offloading, as well as sensors deployed throughout a smart city.
However, for 5G to be truly heralded a success, organisations and governments will need to know how to assure availability, reliability, responsiveness and security of services delivery across their networks.
Environmental data comes to the forefront
With the amount of data in the world predicted to increase at least 50-fold between 2010 and 2020, we’ll also start to see growing emphasis being placed on how that data is stored. Collecting large volumes of raw log data from multiple applications and infrastructure components and sending it to a central location for storage and processing, for example, increases the size and cost of storage and communications over the Wide Area Network (WAN).
Furthermore, the surging demand for data has environmental implications; by 2020, 12 per cent of the world’s energy consumption will be taken by our digital ecosystem, and this is expected to grow annually at approximately 7 per cent until 2030. As these high costs and inefficiencies could hugely undermine the advantages big data brings, we expect to see more and more businesses take a smarter approach to data collection and processing, saving not only on storage costs, but also on communications, electricity and raw material, beginning the journey towards a greener data-driven future.
Data gets smarter
By utilising smart data - which distills the essence of the traffic flows that traverse the service delivery infrastructure in a distributed fashion close to the source, and compresses it into metadata - businesses can ensure they only store the information that holds real value. This information can then be used to gain meaningful and actionable insights, helping organisations to gain a competitive edge while driving efficiencies through enabling data to be rapidly compressed, substantially reducing the volume of data stored by order of magnitude or more.
Smart data is already used to power a range of service, operations and business analytics across different industries, including automotive, manufacturing and healthcare, and we expect its usage to increase dramatically in 2018. With the proliferation of IoT sensors, mobile devices and digital services creating an abundance of data, having the ability to turn this information into meaningful and actionable insights will help businesses to thrive in 2018 and beyond.