Infrastructure & Operations – Trends to Watch from Gartner

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AppDynamics is spending the week in Las Vegas–or, as our Southwest pilot wisecracked as our plane descended, “Lost Wages.” But it’s not for fun—at least, not that kind of fun. We’re talking to prospects and customers at the 2010 Gartner Data Center conference.

We also had a chance to check out the opening keynote, “The Infrastructure & Operations Scenario – Crucial Trends You Need to Watch,” by David J. Cappucio,  Gartner Research VP.  We thought some of the highlights would be interesting to share:

Virtualization is just beginning
Virtualization isn’t a one-time project, but a continuing process that enables all of IT to become one logic system.  The overall point Cappucio made here that there’s a lot more to virtualize—and apps, desktops, and even clients (multidevice, mobile, tablets) are next on the docket.

Big Data: The elephant in the room
Cappucio began this section by declaring that there’s been more video uploaded to YouTube in the past two months than there would have been if ABC, CBS, and NBC had been airing 24/7 since 1948!  The point was clear: there’s a megaton of data out there, and more is being created every second.  And users will expect this data to be available, all the time.

Big Data growth is expected to be 800% over next 5 years, with 80% of that data being unstructured.  This will drive trends such as cloud-based services offering alternatives to on-premise IT infrastructure –but Cappucio recommends that IT professionals start segmenting and prioritizing data now, only keeping what’s necessary and making de-duping a best practice.

Energy efficiency & monitoring
Data centers consume 40x-100x more energy than the offices they support.  And in the near future, monitoring and reporting on energy consumption will be a commonplace occurrence.  Cappucio believes that Energy Star Data Center Standards will be adopted as people (including customers) begin to take notice of IT efficiency practices within organizations.

Staff Retention & Retraining
By age 38, the average younger worker will have had 10-14 jobs.  Constantly trading up positions in order to earn more money, they present a challenge to IT departments in regards to talent retention.  Cappucio recommends getting better at rewarding employees, cross-pollinating teams, and breaking down silos.

Social networks –Ready or Not
“If Facebook was a country, it would be the third largest in the world.”  Customers drive IT input, and you can’t stop them—and furthermore, employees will continue to use Twitter and Facebook inside the workplace whether the business likes it nor not.  The best path is to create a code of conduct for usage, and in regards to customers and prospects, “listen to the collective.”

(Amusingly, one conference attendee Tweeted, “If you can’t hide from social media, why can’t I find most Gartner analysts on twitter?”

Compute & Data Center Density
Data centers should be smaller (and will be in the years to come).  It’s necessary to arrive at the most computing density possible through a high-use of floor space; virtualization is critical to success in this regard.   In the future, the main Key Performance Indicator here will be performance per core kilowatt.

Cloud Computing
Cappucio addresses the hype around cloud this way—“If I can think of a moving commodity service that doesn’t have audit/compliance issues, why WOULDN’T I put it in the cloud?” He felt that mission-critical apps may not be hurling into the cloud the near future, but even getting non-critical apps into the cloud helps shrink the data center—so it makes sense to develop a long-term strategy (“Think hybrid”).

Cappucio ended with some overall recommendations and takeaways:

  • Take virtualization to the next level, focused on all facets of IT.
  • Scale vertically first, horizontally second—Key Performance Indicators will be based around compute power per kilowatt, as opposed to acre!
  • Staff skill sets will soon reach crisis point, so focus on talent motivation and incentives.
  • Social networks will continue to impact companies, so be prepared.
  • Fabric-based systems will be the future…eventually.

How do you feel about Cappucio’s insights?  (Feel free to tell us in person at Booth 58 this week…or simply leave a comment below!)