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Virtual Instruments 2016 Predictions: Service-level agreements, analytics to win priority in the New Year

Virtualization and Cloud executives share their predictions for 2016.  Read them in this 8th Annual VMblog.com series exclusive.

Contributed by John Gentry, vice president of marketing and alliances, Virtual Instruments

Service-level agreements, analytics to win priority in the New Year

Over the last few years, nothing stands out as a more significant or transformative technology for enterprise IT than the growth of cloud computing. Adoption doesn't always look the same, but across the board, cloud-based initiatives have gained speed as companies in every industry look to take advantage of its efficiencies while at the same time, mitigating risks. While the industry is bullish on cloud, it doesn't mean mission-critical IT departments are migrating their most critical workloads there, yet. And the few that have done so are feeling exposed. We will start to see mission-critical workloads move to the cloud in greater frequency when performance and compliance assurances are guaranteed. 

So what's the missing piece to make those guarantees a reality? It all hinges on placing data and authoritative analytics at the forefront, and redefining enterprise expectations for mission-critical IT. Following are the trends we see taking root in 2016 to bring those shifts into the spotlight.

Cloud SLAs must evolve to actually account for performance

The public cloud has a set-it-and-forget-it kind of feel. You don't get high-touch service. You move your workloads to the cloud, and then it's up to you to manage and maintain them. There's no service provider or 24x7 customer service team ready to scramble to ensure your mission-critical infrastructure is running at optimal levels. The paradox is that for mission-critical IT and digital business and governance forever forward, there's no room for downtime or performance degradation whatsoever. While no one is claiming the cloud is consistently unreliable, there are enough hiccups with regard to outages and latency that managing priority workloads in the cloud still comes with too much risk.

In 2016, cloud vendors will respond to this concern, building in language that guarantees performance to the service-level agreements (SLAs) they offer to customers. Hospitals, financial firms and other companies requiring 24/7 performance - on top of the Five 9s availability - will make this move, and cloud vendors with comprehensive performance management solutions in place will win their business. By putting relevant and stringent SLAs in place, the public cloud will become a viable destination for mission-critical IT.

Additionally, while SLAs are a critical step, companies also want authoritative performance data that gives unerring transparency as to how workloads are performing in cloud environments, how delivery can be continually improved and optimized-and above all-how optimal delivery can be made predictable and proactively manageable. As a result, significant numbers of cloud monitoring services will start to offer relevant, actionable analytics and insights that will help vendors deliver on these emergent SLAs from the start.

Performance data leads to insights that optimize IT

Big data analytics isn't just hype anymore. Data-driven marketing is the norm, and through people analytics and hiring initiatives from global giants like Google, we see it infiltrating HR as well. Big data analytics is now a critical component of enterprise DNA, categorically transforming the way departments operate. It's now time for mission-critical IT to leverage its full benefits as well. By adopting solutions and platforms that analyze system-wide performance, utilization and health data, without vendor bias, mission-critical IT can use big data analytics to continually optimize their infrastructures in spite of perpetual evolution and change.

Think about every IO running across a digital business or digital governance infrastructure at any time, during peak periods or otherwise. Every IO provides a clue to the best way to optimize an IT infrastructure for mission-critical workload performance and delivery. Analyzing and transforming that data into authoritative answers and actionable insights gives collaborative IT teams the confidence and decision support they need to deliver on agile business requirements.

The sheer amount of performance data produced by IT infrastructures describes the value that mission-critical IT teams can harness and leverage for their company's competitive advantage. Historically, the scale of collecting, correlating and analyzing huge volumes of diverse and complex data has been an unwieldy undertaking, and so enterprises have quickly dismissed the opportunity. Now, executives and teams charged with innovation and agility across the enterprise are demanding a better way to analyze and benefit from their volumes of IT infrastructure data.

The actionable insights that come from a properly instrumented infrastructure are already creating significant operational and competitive advantage for companies that have deployed infrastructure performance management (IPM) solutions. Companies that are now starting to understand the IT infrastructure big data analytics gap they have will do what's needed in 2016 to achieve parity.

The benefits are too significant to ignore. And as performance-focused analytics become the basis for mission-critical IT decision-making in the coming year, companies will increasingly discover ways to optimize performance and delivery and save money while minimizing risk. The unprecedented levels of visibility, granularity and accuracy that teams are deriving from IPM solutions will allow IT operators to continually performance-tune their environments proactively and without incident.

Market demand for new technologies to enable enterprise agility and growth, not to mention authoritative understanding of performance across the board, has only grown in the last 12 months. The opportunity to galvanize the mission-critical enterprise IT ecosystem is growing as well. It's the companies that recognize the shifting industrywide standards and proactively prepare themselves to act on them that are well positioned for the next wave of development in 2016.

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About the Author

John Gentry is the vice president of marketing and alliances at Virtual Instruments. He has more than 18 years of experience in marketing, sales and sales engineering, and has established his expertise in the open systems and storage ecosystems.

John Gentry 

Published Monday, December 28, 2015 9:36 AM by David Marshall
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