Working in IT in 2013 will not be suited to the faint of heart. I say that because, in over thirty years of working in the IT industry, I have never seen so much fundamental change occurring across so many dimensions. While some of these changes have been around for a while, some are relatively new. I believe that many of these changes are beginning to coalesce and will truly make 2013 a year to remember.
Although, as I mentioned, fundamental change is occurring on multiple dimensions, this entry will focus on cloud computing. Cloud computing is an approach to IT which has been percolating for a few years, and will continue to gain traction with virtually all IT organizations over the next year. Looking just at private cloud computing, most IT organizations have already virtualized at least some of their data center servers. In 2013, the percentage of servers that are virtualized will increase, and, enabled by the growth in the number of processor cores and I/O per CPU, the number of virtual machines (VMs) per physical server will also increase. We also appear to be at a point where, over the next year, dynamically moving VMs between physical servers will become a mainstream activity.
Public cloud computing will also evolve in 2013. For example, 2013 is a pivotal year for the adoption of Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), as roughly half of the IT organizations that I recently surveyed indicated that they are currently planning how they will — or will not –adopt IaaS solutions. In addition, over the next year, the interest that IT organizations have in acquiring applications from Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) providers will grow significantly, and will include the use of applications such as project and portfolio management, office productivity, and collaboration. IT organizations are also beginning to make use of cloud computing service providers for a number of applications that have historically been provided by IT organizations. This includes unified communications, VoIP, network management, and network optimization.
While it doesn’t get the same attention as server virtualization, IT organizations have been utilizing storage virtualization for the last few years. In a previous post I discussed the concept of a software-defined data center (SDDC). The key technology component that needs to be in place before IT organizations can implement an SDDC is network virtualization. Network virtualization will be a very hot topic in 2013. The good news is that virtually all of the key network vendors believe in the value of network virtualization. The bad news is that they don’t agree on how to implement network virtualization. One side of the argument is that there is a set of technologies under development that are designed specifically to enable network virtualization. This includes the Virtual eXtensible LAN (VXLAN), the Network Virtualization using Generic Router Encapsulation (NVGRE) and the Stateless Transport Tunneling (STT) protocols. The other side of the argument is that Software-Defined Networks (SDN) solve a number of problems, including network virtualization. The advocates of SDN make the argument that rather than implementing a technology that solves just one problem, IT organizations are better off changing their approach to networking in a way that solves a multitude of problems. 2013 is going to be a big year for SDN, as a wide array of vendors will be making announcements relative to their overall strategy, product releases, partnerships, and acquisitions. My hope is that in 2013 we reach agreement on two key SDN related topics: the definition of SDN, and exactly what IT organizations can do with an SDN that they cannot do better with other techniques.
I hope that all of you have a great holiday and that this New Year you resolve that in 2013 your IT organization will work to respond to the variety of management, security, and performance challenges that are associated with all forms of cloud computing.