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SolidFire 2016 Predictions: Agility, Virtualization, Automation are Keys to Innovation in 2016

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

Contributed by Keith Norbie, Senior Business Development Manager at SolidFire

Agility, Virtualization, Automation are Keys to Innovation in 2016

The way businesses use the cloud is an ever-evolving learning curve. In 2015, the curve was scaled as service providers and enterprises made the move toward multiple clouds. As traditional desktops are replaced with cloud-based apps and the number of remote workers steadily increases, multi-cloud strategies reflect a modern mobility that is fast becoming the standard in how companies operate. In 2016, we'll see an increased focus on agility, multi-cloud strategies and higher-end automation, along with the continued adoption of all-flash arrays, as companies try to stay at the forefront of the learning curve.

Virtualization for cloud-based infrastructure will also be one of the top trends to watch in 2016, with 100 percent of respondents in a recent IDC study describing data center virtualization as an important enabler of cloud deployment. The growing need for more streamlined, automated processes that foster innovation drive this trend, along with mainstream adoption of open-source solutions like OpenStack.

Virtualization, Automation Skyrocketing

In 2016, companies that have not yet adopted virtualization strategies could find themselves left behind. As with all technology, there's a fine line between early adoption (all those bugs!) and being entirely too late to the game. Later adopters risk sacrificing the ability to respond to companies' needs as well as crippling their competitive edge versus those that are using automation to deploy and manage storage through virtualized applications.

Simply put, the more virtualized a business is, the more time it saves for everyday IT functions. A study from IDC found that virtualizations' broad-reaching benefits "set the stage for migration to the cloud," as one respondent from a U.S.-based company in the contracting industry said. Another respondent from a U.S. government organization elaborated: "I see virtualization as a precursor to allowing you to architecturally become more extendable and mobile, where you don't have to worry about moving workloads around and deciding which workloads can be centrally managed."

While virtualization is critical, there are other, similarly important strategies to improve performance in the cloud. In 2016 and beyond, automation will be an essential component of industry-leading IT deployment strategies. A solid virtualization strategy is key to greater task automation, a foundation that companies can build upon to do more with their computing resources. Among the advantages, automation in a virtualized environment will allow companies to automate tasks, improve service quality and significantly reduce costs.

APIs in Automation: Manual Processes Fail to Impress

To coincide with automation's necessity, it will be critical to make a vendor's automation API meaningful to its enterprise customers, as innovation won't be intrinsic to a company if its IT department keeps its manual processes. Across the board, IT works through manual modes, looking to remove friction from operations. This examination will eventually pay off in the form of more automated processes.

As automation reaches maturity, more APIs are sure to emerge. However, APIs are unique to the underlying technology and must be distilled into specific functions for easy operation and automation, making assets like customized API cheat sheets available to admin teams. Companies need to figure out which vendor they can plug into to enhance automation, capabilities and, ultimately, the ecosystem itself. Moving at the speed of business requires nearly instantaneous responses, so agility must be an integral characteristic of IT infrastructures.

OpenStack Paves the Future

OpenStack is - and will be - one of the leaders in the revolution of IT innovation and agility. At the beginning of 2015, a study of approximately 3,000 CIOs, managers, software developers and engineers from different verticals found that more than one third of cloud users use private clouds, and more than half of those are OpenStack clouds. Hybrid and multi-cloud adoption will continue to increase as companies realize it's a strategy that offers the both of best worlds: with a powerful OpenStack infrastructure, companies have more dynamic abilities to efficiently manage demanding workloads while reducing IT costs and time of service deployment. Additionally, OpenStack configurations allow for increased automation with a more responsive infrastructure. 

2016 will bring mainstream enterprise adoption of OpenStack, increasing IT departments' agility in managing their cloud-based infrastructures and assets. Enterprises will also look to employ all-flash, scale-out storage to deal with demanding OpenStack environments. A consequence of this will be the decline of silos that lack agility and flexibility. With many virtualized application workloads segregated or containerized within discrete compute, storage and networking pools, technology silos will inevitably become a handicap in virtualized data center environments. As OpenStack adoption expands and skillsets evolve, silos will be eliminated entirely, with more enterprises consolidating virtualized workloads and thusly eliminating inefficiencies that have no place in next-generation data centers.

Overall, cloud-based infrastructure is one of the top trends to watch in 2016 and for years to come. For companies that have not yet embarked on this new frontier - what a fun road you have ahead of you, and what improvements your company will make should you choose to do so this year. For those that are ahead of the curve, and are starting the process early, we encourage you to share your "tips" for streamlining and automating processes. Together, as it has always been, shared experiences help provoke innovation! 

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About the Author

Keith Norbie, Senior Business Development Manager at SolidFire, is confident that the storage industry will continue to surprise in 2016. He works closely with solutions architects, marketing, sales and channel teams to drive forward some of SolidFire's most strategic technology partnerships, including VMware, Microsoft and Citrix Systems. The new year will bring change, as adaptation and evolution are imperatives as modern storage technology becomes more streamlined, powerful and efficient.

Published Monday, January 04, 2016 1:47 PM by David Marshall
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