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Gartner: 10 critical IT trends for the next five years

Software-defined networks, data explosions, hybrid clouds will test IT prowess

By , Network World
October 22, 2012 03:26 PM ET

Network World - ORLANDO -- Trying to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to IT issues is not a job for the faint of heart. That point was driven home at Gartner's IT annual IT Symposium fest here where analyst David Cappuccio outlined what he called "new forces that are not easily controlled by IT are pushing themselves to the forefront of IT spending."

The forces of cloud computing, social media/networking, mobility and information management are all evolving at a rapid pace. These evolutions are largely happening despite the controls that IT normally places on the use of technologies, Cappuccio stated. "IT was forced to support tablets, and end users forced them to support IM and wireless networks a few years ago. And more such technologies are on the horizon," he said.

Cappuccio's presentation listed the following as the "Ten Critical Trends and Technologies Impacting IT During the Next Five Years." The following is taken from Cappuccio's report:

1. Disruption: Business users expect the same level of IT performance and support as they experience with consumer-based applications and services. Business-user demand for customer satisfaction is far outstripping the IT support organizations supply. IT organizations must invest in the development of IT service desk analyst skills and attributes, and organize appropriately to increase IT's perceived value to the rest of the organization. Business-user satisfaction can be a moving target, but enabling higher levels of productivity at the IT service desk level demonstrates that the IT organization cares about the business, and that it's committed to ensuring that users meet their goals and objectives. While a focus on traditional training, procedures, security access, knowledge management and scripts is warranted, a focus on next-generation support skills will be paramount to meet the needs and expectations of the business more efficiently.

2. Software Defined Networks: SDN is a means to abstract the network just as server virtualization abstracts the server. It transforms the network topology from box/port at a time configuration to flow at a time -- linked to application. Abstracts the network like a hypervisor abstracts the server and it gives programmatic control. With SDN the controller has a view of the entire network topology both the virtual and physical components of it including switches, firewalls, ADC, etc. and provides the abstracted view to provisioning and managing the network connections and services that the applications and the operator requires.

OpenFlow is a great example of that generalized network tunneling protocol that provides a generic API that any network operator can use to create his own control and management schemes based on the application requirements of his organization. And there will be other OpenFlow type SDN protocols that are designed ground up from an application level logic than from the traditional network paradigm of protocol, device and link-based thinking.

When used along with encapsulations like OpenFlow SDN can be used to dynamically extend a private cloud into a hybrid model to masking the enterprise specific IP addresses from the cloud provider's infrastructure. SDN also promises to allow service providers to offer dynamic provisioned WAN services, potentially across multi-provider/multi-vendor networks. Of course, there is the potential for significant organizational disruption as traditional network skills begin to shift, and alignment with specific vendor products or platforms becomes less rigid.

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