UPDATED 17:20 EST / JANUARY 14 2020

Baltic Servers Data Center INFRA

Here’s what infra and operations teams need to do in 2020

The past several years have introduced a variety of “new normals” for infrastructure and operations or I&O teams, and there are no signs that things will slow down in 2020.

Hybrid information technology, the agility of public cloud capabilities, the popularity of container-centric application development and, of course, automation are all pressing challenges for modern I&O technical professionals.

Gartner’s 2020 Planning Guide for Infrastructure and Operations directs I&O professionals to the critical technical planning trends for 2020 and provides guidance on how to prepare for and invest in their adoption. This article outlines the key planning considerations.

Pervasive hybrid IT will require rebuilding IT operations processes and procedures

Hybrid IT is the new normal for modern IT operations. Software as a service and platform as a service are booming, which only means that technical professionals are struggling to provide integration and seamless management over their various assets.

This year, organizations must revisit their overall IT operations strategies and focus on making significant overhauls, if not completely replacing some processes entirely. Traditional IT operations tools and processes were never designed for what we see today: consumptive, on-demand computing capabilities combined with self-service interfaces and governance demands. These complexities are far too multifaceted for a single tool to address.

Increasing expectations for IT agility will force modernization of on-premises assets

Over the past decade, the agility of public cloud capabilities continues to draw attention to the lack of speed of on-premises capabilities. This ever-increasing “agility gap” will force I&O technical professionals to look at ways to improve on-premises IT agility, while remaining conscious of open-source initiatives and commercial vendor solutions making claims of such agility.

I&O technical professionals must begin this year to adopt a “100% API-controllable” posture toward all IT assets that they intend to source and place in an on-premises data center, colocation hub or edge location.

Demand for container-centric and serverless capabilities will require new platforms

Agile development methodologies and cloud-native application architectures have transformed IT development across every industry. The ability to provide incremental improvements swiftly to customer experiences has permanently altered how organizations interact with their markets. For I&O teams, agile development means forcing much more frequent release cycles — sometimes several per day — than current processes were originally designed to handle.

I&O technical professionals must begin in 2020 to break the habits built from two decades of virtual machine-centric application delivery and embrace platforms that can dramatically increase developer agility.

Edge and IoT use cases will drive compute capabilities even closer to users

As adoption of cloud computing continues to grow and on-premises data centers get smaller, organizations’ data and processing has become more geographically dispersed than ever before. Over time, considerations of processing data “at the edge” — as close to the real world as feasibly possible — often start to emerge.

In 2020, I&O technical professionals must start planning what edge and “internet of things” reference architectures will look like for their organization over the long term – with regard to compute, storage and networking.

Agility and scaling demands will force organizations to invest in automation

We already know that infrastructure automation is no longer optional. Automation is a fundamental enabler of agility and has become a critical capability that magnifies the impact of cloud computing adoption, AI capabilities and DevOps practices. Several I&O automation technologies are even approaching mainstream at this point.

I&O leaders should start moving internal automation initiatives this year from a “nice to have” point of view to be a critical priority for the organization. Our advice is to create or participate in an automation center of excellence to help govern the roadmap, organizational enablement and tool alignment.

Although we understand organizations cannot possibly tackle all of these items at once, proper prioritization is key — and optimizing for speed of delivery in a hybrid environment is the top priority.

More predictions on all aspects of the IT industry can be found in the Gartner special report “Predicts 2020: Barriers Fall as Technology Adoption Grows,” a collection of research aimed at helping chief information officers and IT leaders understand how emerging technologies are moving past barriers to widespread adoption at scale.

Douglas Toombs is a research vice president at Gartner for technical professionals, covering topics related to data center infrastructure, IT operations and cloud computing adoption strategies. He wrote this article for SiliconANGLE.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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