In 2015, we have seen some significant disruption in infrastructure technologies as organizations seek to align technology decisions with business goals. This drive has led to paradigm shifts in how companies think about primary data center technology like storage and virtualization. We have just begun to scratch the surface of what’s possible with infrastructure technology. In 2016, expect to see new trends as well as some past predictions finally come true. It promises to be an exciting year for infrastructure technology.
Storage, driven by flash memory, has been a major topic in 2015. Before the advent of flash, IT organizations thought about performance in terms of capacity: The only way to improve storage performance was to add more capacity. This allowed the workload to spread across a large pool of performance. This concept has been fundamentally flawed and caused storage to be, by and large, performance-constrained. Flash has solved this dilemma by decoupling storage capacity from storage performance. Storage infrastructure is no longer performance-limited, but instead, scalability-constrained. In 2016, expect to see storage scale and flash capacity pushed to new heights.
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A new area of storage technology has been slowly emerging to change how we think of storage and memory. In 2016, be on the lookout for a blending of server memory and server storage. The concept of flash as memory will allow servers to have huge, cost-effective pools of memory. Of course, today’s flash is not as fast as DRAM, but that can be addressed in several ways: Make flash faster or change how we think of memory.
Making flash faster is possible, but we may need to look beyond NAND flash. One potential new way to think of server memory is as having two tiers. One tier—DRAM—provides performance, and another—flash—provides large RAM capacity. It is clear that 2016 is going to be a game-changing year for storage.
Despite what many people had expected, 2015 was not the year of software-defined networking or network function virtualization. Every IT organization wants the agility and flexibility promised by SDN, but many worry about the relative newness of the technology. Networks, after all, have largely remained unchanged from a core architecture design for the last several years.
Rather than jumping right in, infrastructure groups have spent the year researching SDN and NFV. What many have found is that NFV and SDN work best together. NFV, focusing on services, allows for enhanced security, with intrusion detection systems and firewalls being more reliable and less impactful. On the other hand, SDN allows for policy-based deployment and automation. In 2016, we can expect all the research of the previous year to lead to wider adoption of SDN and NFV.
Virtualization has been a hot topic for the last several years, and is likely to remain so in 2016. Organizations are embracing the idea behind cloud computing and building private clouds. In 2016, we can expect the term “cloud computing” to become so widely used, it will be referred to simply as “computing.” IT departments need to be on the lookout for containers as the next logical compute abstraction layer. Until now, containers have been talked about a lot, but have not been widely adopted. Expect 2016 to change that.
Not all 2016 infrastructure trends are about technology. Expect 2016 to be the year DevOps becomes the new normal for IT development in the enterprise. Efficiency is everything when running a business, and that rationale will cause more companies to adopt an agile development and DevOps mentality. Fueled by the desire for agility, 2016 will see infrastructure take automation to new heights. From simple tasks like account creations to complex network policy decisions and environment provisioning, expect a renewed focused on automation.
Many people have predicted that each of the last few years would be the year of the virtual desktop, but this has yet to pan out. Improvements in storage performance, the adoption of SDN, and the creation of private clouds will make 2016 different. Fueled by improvements in these other areas, and driven by a DevOps mentality, it finally makes sense to embrace VDI.