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iland 2021 Predictions: Beyond the Pandemic

vmblog 2021 prediction series 

Industry executives and experts share their predictions for 2021.  Read them in this 13th annual series exclusive.

Beyond the Pandemic: iland's 2021 IT Predictions

By Brian Knudtson, Cloud Technologist, iland

What a year it has been. The COVID-19 pandemic put a strain on every aspect of life, technology in particular. Though IT departments continue to bear the brunt of this burden, our industry has remained resilient, clinging to the creative problem solving that is its hallmark. As a whole, I think we did a phenomenal job rising to the challenges of 2020.

So where does this leave us? The questions surrounding 2021 are numerous:

  • How much of the remote workforce will become permanent?
  • How much of the infrastructure supporting remote work should be completely redone after rushed implementations?
  • Will businesses have the funds to run IT properly after a hard economic year?
  • What about all the projects that didn't get addressed last year?

If there's one thing we can safely predict, it is a lack of certainty. Let's try to pave a possible path forward. Here are a few IT predictions for 2021:

Supporting Your Remote Workforce

The obvious challenge of 2021: The ongoing need for a remote workforce.

I'd continue to prioritize the infrastructure you've built to support remote workers - especially if there are known improvements to be done. Experts agree that at least the first half of this year will continue to be dominated by a remote workforce. Plus, odds are that most businesses will adopt a more friendly stance on remote work over the long term.

Your primary goal should be to ensure that users can easily and securely access the applications they need. By now all know that a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) isn't the cure-all solution to remote work, but it will likely be a part of your plan. There are situations where a laptop and a VPN are the best solution. In other cases, you may be able to provide your end users with a complete suite of cloud-based applications that will require nothing more than a computing device and decent internet connection.

If you haven't already, take the time to consider all the different systems you have, how your end users need to connect to them, and plan for a future architecture that minimizes the complexities between the two.

Security and Cybercrime

Closely related, is the ever-increasing pressures of security and cybercrime.

The traditional approach of perimeter security is clearly no longer effective. You now have users regularly crossing through your perimeter, possibly from devices you cannot fully trust. In addition, there's the increasing sophistication of social engineering, the participation of antagonistic nation-states, and the highly distracted nature of our current daily lives. Mix it all together and it's a recipe for an accelerated arms race between you and the bad guys.

In order to effectively protect your company and data, it will require a "defense in depth" approach. No single vendor or solution will keep you safe. In fact, the more different types of security you utilize, the better off you likely will be. Take a look at the security frameworks from organizations like CIS and NIST. Don't automatically assume a cloud-based solution will be less secure. Many cloud providers have taken the concerns customers have with security and made them a core part of their platform. In fact, some providers may be able to secure your data in their cloud better than you can on-premises because of their ability to focus more intently on data security.

Everything as a Service?

Whether to ease your end user's experience or to reduce the reliance on CAPEX and physical data center technologies, businesses are moving more and more of their data to the cloud.

Just like any data-center technology, it will be critical to adopt cloud solutions where it makes sense, and this should require security and management considerations. Attention should also be placed on how each considered option will integrate with your on-premises and other cloud-based solutions, today and in the future. The future is multi-cloud, if it's not already your present.

Data and Business Protection

Finally, as these new technologies are built out and added to your infrastructure, consider how you will protect your data across all the parts of the infrastructure. This includes any data moved to or generated in the cloud. Even if a cloud provider can be trusted with your data, you should still abide by data protection guidelines like the "3-2-1 rule" and ensure you or a trusted third party has control over at least one of those copies.

Your consideration of business continuity should not end with data protection, either. For years our industry has pushed businesses to build and test their disaster recovery plans, but these plans are focused on recovering data and technical assets. If you didn't have a full business continuity plan that included workforce recovery, odds are that you struggled to build a solution to the remote work the pandemic forced on us. And you would not be alone. Odds are that you've already done much of the work to define this plan through 2020, so take advantage of that effort and push for the business to formalize these plans.

Looking Ahead

If anything, 2020 gave us a chance to prove to our businesses that IT is more than just a cost center. In fact, it can be an agile provider of business saving solutions. Let's take advantage of this goodwill. Be creative and forward thinking and take your business to the next level.

For a more in-depth discussion on the state of IT in 2021, watch this webinar, featuring experts from iland, Veeam, and VMware.


About the Author

Brian Knudtson, Cloud Technologist

Brian Knudtson

In his 20-year career, Brian has experienced many different perspectives of the IT industry. He has worked as a customer, value-added reseller, vendor and service provider in roles in web development, system administration, post-sales deployment, pre-sales architecting, public cloud design and technical marketing. Currently, Brian is a Cloud Technologist at iland. He has been a long-time member of the VMware community since 2004. You can find him online occasionally blogging at and tweeting at @bknudtson.

Published Friday, January 08, 2021 7:38 AM by David Marshall
VMblog 2021 Industry Experts Video Predictions Series - Episode 1 : @VMblog - (Author's Link) - January 13, 2021 9:56 AM
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