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SolarWinds 2020 Predictions: An Amalgamation of Old and New Tech Will Build a Stronger IT Network

VMblog Predictions 2020 

Industry executives and experts share their predictions for 2020.  Read them in this 12th annual series exclusive.

By Patrick Hubbard, Head Geek, SolarWinds

An Amalgamation of Old and New Tech Will Build a Stronger IT Network

Ongoing digital transformation is an evergreen tactic organizations will continue to use to ensure they remain competitive in a constantly shifting IT landscape. And like most trends, there are some tried-and-true strategies while others have faded out to make way for something newer and better. In 2020, we'll see a stronger emphasis on application performance management-particularly, tools available for decades but often underused and underappreciated. We'll also see organizations adopt new strategies to adapt to new services like 5G. But exactly how will enterprises approach this?

Enterprises Take a Page From the Smart City Playbook

When it comes to digital transformation, there are parallels between what smart cities and enterprises are doing. Smart cities and innovative enterprises alike are using technology as an agent of change. As demand for digital experiences grows in 2020, enterprises will start to realize there's more to learn from smart cities.

Smart cities use technology to deliver services more effectively and ultimately provide a better living environment for citizens. The same can be said for enterprises looking to untangle their customer's supply chain or make a physical plant run more efficiently. But cities also face the same challenges of complexity, aging custom applications, overdue infrastructure upgrades, everything mature enterprises deal with, and more. However, some may argue smart cities are transforming faster than businesses already, adopting smart city mobility solutions citizens enjoy, and progressing private-public partnerships to drive further innovation. Smart cities are learning things, and finally making progress in areas enterprise businesses are keen to address. The research, experimentation, data, and best practices coming out of smart city efforts can be helpful as businesses chart a course for business transformation and technology modernization.

2020: At a 5G Crossroads

As chipmakers and ISPs alike continue along the path to broad 5G adoption, 2020 will prove to be a critical inflection point. While we'll see certain societal impacts (such as improved application performance and the enablement of new technologies for IoT, collaboration, etc.), we can expect ISP powerhouses like Time Warner to radically shift their offerings while telcos like Verizon continue to invest in 5G equipment.

5G is coming, and although it may seem like the next generation of wireless tech will bring nothing but speed, responsiveness, and the reach needed to unlock the full capabilities of emerging tech trends, in actuality it will introduce unprecedented pain points-and those without a current solution.

In 2019, we saw smartphone makers like Samsung and ZTE bring 5G handsets to market. However, users have only been to scratch the surface of 5G's potential as telcos and networking companies are still building the infrastructure to support broader coverage of this next generation tech. Consumers running applications on a "5G lite" network (like AT&T's 5Ge band) may experience faltering connectivity switching between different speeds, resulting in degraded or unpredictable performance for apps engineered to assume broadly available high performance networks.

At the same time, monitoring applications running on increasingly fragmented networks will become even more important, pushing developers to optimize applications for all connectivity speeds. Being able to measure network performance will also be key to ensuring further 5G infrastructure rollouts are meeting latency expectations.

Seeing APM for the First Time in 30 Years

While application performance management (APM) tools have been available since the 1990s, they're still among the most under-appreciated tools in the technology industry. In 2020, this will change. As companies continue to adopt hybrid cloud, they'll increasingly use dynamic technologies to build new application features. While affording greater flexibility, agility, and scalability day-to-day, these changes to how we deliver applications make traditional monitoring techniques much more difficult (sometimes impossible), while the business expects even greater performance.

We've reached an application performance monitoring (APM) crossroads, and in 2020 we have a rare chance to catch up with recent technology changes and regain control of application delivery monitoring. We'll see the tech pro's focus expand from infrastructure performance to real-world, end-user experiences.

For many engineers, this process will start with a simple change in perspective: learning to think like an end user to monitor like a wise admin. A renewed emphasis on implementing the tenets of APM offers organizations a silver lining: it can buy the freedom to innovate. It's a way to start more meaningful conversations with the CIO, where tech pros can begin to educate business leaders about new ways to make customers happy.

As businesses continue to prioritize customer-centricity and end-user experience in the year ahead (and beyond) they'll use APM tools to evolve, innovate, and reach broader business goals, ultimately resulting in increased implementation and corresponding skill development.


About the Author



An accomplished technologist with over 20 years of experience, Hubbard's career includes software development, operations, product management and marketing, technology strategy, and advocacy. An unapologetic market-hype deconstructionist, Hubbard is passionate about arming technology professionals with the tools and skills to deliver services that delight, not just satisfy, users. Hubbard's current focus is helping enterprises adopt cloud-native and DevOps techniques that deliver the business transformation CIOs increasingly demand.

Since joining SolarWinds in 2007, Hubbard has combined his technical expertise with an IT customer perspective to drive product strategy, launch the Head Geeks, develop and manage the SolarWinds Certified Professional (SCP) and SolarWinds Academy Training Classes programs, and create the SolarWinds online demo platform. Today, most admins recognize Hubbard as the executive producer of the Telly award-winning SolarWinds Lab, and SolarWinds THWACKcamp.

Published Tuesday, December 31, 2019 7:38 AM by David Marshall
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