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ioFABRIC 2018 Predictions: Climate, Costs, Cloud, and Other C-level Thoughts

VMblog Predictions 2018

Industry executives and experts share their predictions for 2018.  Read them in this 10th annual series exclusive.

Contributed by Steven Lamb, co-founder and CEO, ioFABRIC

Climate, Costs, Cloud, and other C-level thoughts on 2018

An acquisition, an IPO, a staggering VC funding round, an Equifax-sized data security breach, a major cloud service outage - year-end industry predictions are an imprecise science that can be thrown out of whack by just one of these events. Masochists that we are, we still look forward to them every year. 2017 has given us plenty of hints about what to expect from data management in 2018; unfortunately, we can't say it's all good news.

Extreme weather impact on IT

Many are still reeling from recent hurricanes, and environmental experts say we're in for even more severe weather while current U.S. leadership appears unmotivated to address climate change.

Given these realities, companies will take even greater steps to replicate data offsite, in multiple locations. If there's a silver lining to nature's wrath, it's that more and more organizations are prioritizing availability, protection, and security: frankly, only a fool would fail to focus on it since access to data is the lifeline of a company. However, the practical requirements of maintaining multiple copies of data in multiple locations and multiple clouds will challenge day-to-day IT management. Hosting companies that layer customized and professional services on top of the major cloud providers AWS, Google, and Azure, will need to differentiate themselves and get aggressive. We don't look forward to more disasters, but we look forward to more conversations around the issues, and around the multi-location, multi-cloud model.

Optimizing for cost

Budgets are still a concern, especially as users struggle to cover these varied data protection requirements. I can't put it more simply than the most cost-effective solutions will always win, and today's software-defined paradigms generally mean this will always be commodity hardware plus software to orchestrate workload tasks. These software paradigms can deliver active data for processing and archive data for business intelligence, assigning different data to different storage for different purposes.

But that news is so 2017. In 2018, what will be increasingly desirable is software intelligence that includes cost analysis as a factor, not just capacity or latency specs. Meeting each application's service and protection requirements, and doing so using the lowest-cost hardware or cloud available, ensures organizations are getting the biggest bang for the buck. It is quite exciting to see new products that assess the relative costs of placing a data volume on local spinning disk versus a cloud service, and pick the cheapest option, automatically.

Ransomware on the rise

More in the bad news column: 2018 will see an increase in malicious attacks. More than 10,000 companies were affected by WannaCry alone in 2017, and that could be a drop in the bucket next year. Believe me, I hope this prediction does not come true, but we can't afford to stick our heads in the sand. It's the stuff of nightmares.

Getting data protection right so that you can easily recover from a ransomware attack will be a far bigger need, because too many companies have a false sense of security. It's not about data being unavailable, as may be the case in a natural disaster, it's about data being...unassailable. We recommend immutable snapshots and a good service provider that knows storage. Immutable snapshots cannot be accessed or encrypted by ransomware, defend against data loss, and allow you to restore from any point-in-time, whether on premise or from the cloud, so you can resume operations in minutes.

The forklift upgrade is over

For cost and hassle, ya can't beat a hardware upgrade. Fortunately, in 2018 we expect to see less and less of them, partly due to IaaS, and partly because of an emphasis on an "evergreen" infrastructure that will never become obsolete or require a forklift upgrade. An evergreen infrastructure can be seamlessly scaled for performance, capacity, and/or protection any time without incurring downtime or a massive data migration. New equipment such as flash media can be added, an older box can be decommissioned, a volume can be moved to the cloud or back down, and resources reallocated accordingly with a few mouse clicks. It's the business value and utility of the as-a-service model, with an owned infrastructure.

You can call me AI

No, not "al," "ai." Artificial Intelligence, machine learning, intelligent automation, whatever you call it, it's only getting bigger. It's already in our living rooms in the form of Amazon Alexa's simple AI that learns as we make requests. In the data center, AI's increasing presence will reduce manual setup and administration, minimize the potential for human error, and ultimately improve operations - and operational costs. I am especially keen on a branch of AI called swarm intelligence or emergent behavior, largely mimicking nature, which uses logic to adapt and then apply rules, even to complex environments. The result is technology that is self-configuring, self-healing, efficient, and cooperative. We're at the early stages of seeing AI in commercially available enterprise technology, and I think vendors will tout it with great fanfare in 2018.


Steve Lamb iofabric 

Steven Lamb forged himself as a data storage expert with server-side caching at Nevex Virtual Technologies and now as co-founder and CEO of ioFABRIC, a data management software company. He is a successful serial entrepreneur on his fifth venture with a broad range of technical, strategic, and leadership experience. Steven's first company, Border Network Technologies, became the second largest firewall vendor worldwide. Others included INEX, Nevex Software, and NEVEX Virtual Technologies, a cache acceleration company. He has a Bachelor of Applied Science in Engineering and a Master of Science in Physics, both from the University of Toronto. 

Published Thursday, November 02, 2017 7:38 AM by David Marshall
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