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Around this time, I usually pull together a ten point list of predictions for the coming year. I am interested in the Data Center (around power, cooling, reliability and economics), IT Security (particularly Database and Mobile), Big Data and Storage (Particularly Solid State). So what’s different this year from prior years?

Strengthening fundamental drivers are likely to make 2011 materially different from previous years in these ways:

  1. Mid-sized businesses will continue to accelerate their uptake in cloud services (mainly SaaS) rather than invest in co-location data centre services and DIY computing. Demand for retail co-location data centers will begin to tail off in demand and be replaced by data centers hosting IT as a service offering as business migrate to cloud computing models. Email, CRM, Accounting and other back office systems have migrated over very rapidly already.
  2. For Data Centres larger businesses will continue to host their own systems only where their is a competitive advantage in them doing so. CIOs are under increasing pressure to push commodity IT services out into the cloud or to large outsourcers who can leverage scale, automation and labor arbritage to drive out costs.
  3. For IT Security, a fundamental move towards Bring Your Own Computer (BYOC) and Mobility combined with increasing sophisticated attacks from professional hackers (like the state sponsored, Chinese Internet Army) will make muck of the conventional security measures ineffective and irrelevant. There will be significant upside for vendors who offer protection for corporate systems being hosted on an employees mobile device such as Mobile Active Defence
  4. Data protection strategies network access rules and firewalls backed up by signature based virus and malware protection will die out as the effect of professional hackers who can defeat these measures becomes apparent. Data protection will move inwards around the database, the email folders, the document repostitory and the unstructured file system. Automatic security metadata and information asset management approaches such as those from Chalet Tech will become critically important.
  5. The gradual migration towards liquid cooling will continue with strong leadership from IBM with the Z11 mainframe and pSeries machines with water cooled options. The massive efficiency benefit of liquids – being some 4,000 times more efficient than air at removing heat – will drive adoption for the highest density deployments such as HPC (high-performance computing) and mainframe first, followed by general purpose computing later. Organisations such as Iceotope who have developed and delivered commodity liquid cooling with prosper.
  6. Converged edge networks with smart switching driven by 10G Ethernet will continue to reduce the need for manual patch configurations and change the layout of the data center. The edge are being located in-row and at the top of cabinets. The number of cables will reduce dramatically but the criticality of connectivity will increase. IBM’s purchase of Blade Network Technologies and HP’s continued drive into the network space is proving a significant challenge to Cisco who rely on profit from core switch technology.
  7. Engineered Database and Application appliances such as Exadata and Exalogic from Oracle will continue to gain share at the top end of the market delivering massive performance improvement by leveraging solid state disks, low latency networks (10G and Infiniband) and huge DRAM footprints (96GB plus). Cisco UCS, HP Proliant and IBM pSeries teamed up with Violin Memory solid state storage controllers will offer very stiff competition to Oracle.
  8. Solid State storage will really start to eat into the performance disk market share with 15000 RPM disks dying off first and leading to a storage ecosystem populated by Flash and Trash, Solid State for performance and SATA for capacity. The price of solid state components will continue to drop as manufacturing capacity at Samsung and Toshiba comes on line.
  9. Tablets are now 100% flash, Laptops will follow shortly.  Enterprise Data Centre adoption will be driven by low latency implications rather than cost. Low latency storage dramatically improves CPU utilisation driving out per-core software licencing costs.
  10. Smaller and less sophisticated companies will start to demand access to the benefits of Big Data. This is a space occupied by PhD geeks for the configuration of the hardware and storage systems but also for the data mining and business analysis. Prepacked Cassandra and Hadoop solutions such as the Acunu Data Platform and Greenplum from EMC and other will start to make an impact. Global consultancies will start to make major investments in training to be able to keep up with the demands.


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