A Mid-Year Look at the Top Technology Trends So Far in 2012

To say with any degree of certainty what technologies will be hot in the next 6 – 12 months generally takes equal amounts of smarts and industry insight coupled with a little bit of luck sprinkled in to get it right. So as I compare what I forecast earlier this year to what I see taking place now, I was certainly right on some points but premature in predicting others. So today with the midpoint of 2012 upon us, I thought I would take a look at the five specific technology trends impacting organizations right now.

Two forecasts from a blog entry that I wrote back in January 2012 are shaping up to be for the most part on the money.

The first prediction had to do around the growing use of backup appliances in 2012. If anything, end user desire to acquire, deploy and use backup appliances has exceeded even my admittedly optimistic viewpoint earlier this year about their adoption.

As I stated at the time, the consumerization of IT is well under way in all size organizations and shipping backup software as an appliance does a great deal to simplify its deployment and implementation.

Contributing to this trend, organizations are consolidating IT staff onto single teams (75% of organizations already have a single team involved in all IT decisions according to the results of one survey.) Backup appliances make it possible for organizations to accomplish this and still effectively deliver on the tasks for which they are held responsible.

The other trend I picked up on in early 2012 was the shift in focus on the part of organizations from backup to recovery. Backup appliances have certainly contributed to this trend as IT administrators can quickly setup and configure backup software in their environment so that the next time they interact with it may well be in the context of recovery.

However an equally large contributor to this focus on recovery is the growing use of array-based snapshots. As was shared at the recent Dell Storage Forum, a recent analyst survey found that 52% of organizations now use array-based snapshots as their primary way to protect production applications. This has led to easier, faster recoveries driven in large part by software products like CommVault Simpana and Symantec NetBackup that have supporting snapshots a specific focus.

In terms of new trends did I not comment on in January 2012 but that I now see emerging in mid-2012, there are three of them.

First, Big Data, the Cloud and Virtualization are the new corporate realities.
These three concepts are no longer emerging trends but now influence in some way how almost every organization makes every technology buying decision. While there are certainly nuances in terms of how applicable each one is to each size organization (for instance, large enterprises may deal with “Big Data” while small businesses grapple with “Bigger Data”,) the influence of these three concepts is real and undeniable.

Second, servers and storage are becoming more tightly integrated.
While a number of storage arrays already offer flash as either cache or solid state drives (SSDs), more storage vendors are looking to move flash closer to or into the server. Once there, they are then looking to manage the server flash in a manner akin to how they manage data placement and storage capacity on their arrays.

Third, virtual infrastructure management is begging for a software solution. As much as everyone loves virtualizing the infrastructure, in the same breath they express how difficult it is to manage and troubleshoot. This is why a software solution that is specifically tailored to monitoring, managing and even fixing trouble spots such as do root cause analysis within virtualized environments needs to emerge sooner rather than later.

Clearly other technology trends beyond the five mentioned above are gathering momentum in mid-2012. However I highlight these because all of them are largely a direct result of IT staff in organizations being pushed to do more productive using the same or fewer budget and resources. So while technologies like server-storage integration and virtual datacenter infrastructure management are still in their infancy and maturing, this is where vendors are currently putting many of their efforts and where organizations should expect to see the most innovation in the coming 6 -18 months.

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