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What are the big enterprise IT challenges in 2016?

Posted by Hans Ashlock June 1, 2016
What are the big enterprise IT challenges in 2016?

So far this year, 2016 has been a busy one for enterprise IT leaders. Companies are giving even more focus to tech deployments within the office and are harnessing machine learning, cloudifying, and hybridizing – all at an unprecedented level. These advancements, of course, have direct repercussions for IT.

But to illuminate why 2016 has already been and will continue to be a busy and potentially challenging year for IT, it helps to take a look at the industry-wide trends that paved the way for this difficult – but highly rewarding – enterprise year. 

"Companies are harnessing machine learning, cloudifying, and hybridizing - all at an unprecedented level."

Setting the stage for 2016

Business developments in the past year have had a significant impact on organizational IT functions and have created a climate of IT evolution that will continue throughout the rest of 2016. Toward the end of 2014, CIO ran an article about anticipated IT trends for 2015. Not surprisingly, the first projected change involved the hybrid cloud – namely, that 2015 would be the year that hybrid cloud became the go-to deployment model for organizations, ushering in the long-anticipated era of across-the-board hybrid deployments.

But while hybrid growth didn't happen on that scale, its evolution can be characterized as fast and steady, with an estimated compound annual growth rate of 27 percent between now and 2019. Currently a roughly $32 billion market, hybrid cloud is projected to be valued at around $84.67 billion by 2019.

There was certainly a lot of hybrid cloud activity in 2015, which illuminated both the benefits that arise from hybrid deployments and the challenges that can accompany such a move, including concerns about monitoring and management (more on that in a bit). However, hybrid cloud wasn't the only tech movement to make waves within enterprises in 2015. Here are other trends that characterized the year:

  • Businesses more likely to embrace shadow IT: With bring-your-own-device policies becoming the norm across the board for most industries, shadow IT was on the fast track to presenting serious problems for IT departments. The Cloud Security Alliance found earlier in 2015 that only 8 percent of organizations completely understand how shadow IT functions within their networks. However, a marked attitude shift is on the brink as enterprise IT departments continue to find that they can use shadow IT to their advantage. ITProPortal noted that shadow IT can create efficiencies in the workplace and empower employees to take charge of day-to-day decisions. It's also good for the IT department itself, as crowdsourcing can improve knowledge of user needs. Throughout 2015, the fear toward shadow IT diminished, leaving enterprises to embrace the trend.
  • Broader move toward software-defined networking: Enterprise adoption of SDN experienced a significant boost in 2015. This only made sense following 2014, which was, according to Network World, the "year of chatter" for SDN/NFV – paving the way for the concrete advancements that took place in 2015. However, the mounting push toward SDN did prompt some conversations about relevant challenges and concerns. Among the SDN-related issues that were highlighted by industry publications were its newness as a mainstream deployment model and the impact it will have on enterprise culture. Of course, these are questions that will persist into the coming year.
  • The Google factor: On a short list of disruptive influences in the tech industry for 2015, Google would be at the top. The company's cloud offerings took center stage, with Google Cloud Platform and cloud container solution Kubernetes being the most important things to pay attention to. Google clearly stated its goals for the cloud in 2015, something not all providers can boast.

Enterprise movements like hybrid cloud deployment, the continual use of shadow IT and the centering of SDN in business conversations have helped to set the stage for enterprise IT in the coming year. But 2016 is bringing its own challenges as well.  

Hybrid cloud continued its growth in 2015, and this evolution will gain momentum in the new year.Hybrid cloud continued its growth in 2015, and this evolution will gain momentum in 2016.

IT challenges ahead in 2016

"Already this year, there have been new challenges for business IT."

Already this year, there have been new challenges for business IT as well as the persistence of old ones. Here are some of the key issues IT department will continue to face in 2016:

  • The management challenges that accompany hybrid cloud: The growing adoption of the hybrid cloud creates issues for IT staffers when it comes to management and security. Surmounting these issues calls for a greater degree of oversight than what currently exists. According to Enterprise Management Associates, nearly 20 percent of respondents indicated that they had no plan in place to monitor the performance of their hybrid cloud. The absence of a monitoring plan will only create further problems for organizations as hybrid cloud deployments expand. However, as industry expert Lachlan Evenson pointed out, one of the ways of dealing with the issue is through SDN, thanks to the multi-tenancy security it offers. But better management – which ITBusinessEdge contributor Arthur Cole called "the thorn in the hybrid cloud" – is also needed. As Cole asserted, "Most enterprises are already having a tough enough time getting their data to flow properly across internal infrastructure, so adding third-party, cloud-facing resources to the mix only compounds the complexity."
  • The importance of sandboxing: In order to develop successful technologies, devtest tools need to appear as close to the actual production environment as possible. It's crucial for DevOps tools to be production-ready directly upon deployment, so creating these sandbox-like testing environments is an important piece of the DevOps puzzle. The risk of mistakes that may happen during deployment will be considerably lower when all of devtest and quality assurance is conducted in these near-perfect images. Network, security and hybrid cloud infrastructure will all benefit from these kinds of sandboxes if they are implemented in every DevOps toolchain.
  • Completing the DevOps cycle: One important aspect of DevOps is the use of continuous cycles to enhance development deployment. In order to facilitate software development, agile teams need to integrate their individual work with that of the collective group, and continuous integration helps foster that kind of communicative environment. Sometimes, however, these continuous cycles can be broken. Namely, large-scale deployments may not be able to take advantage of current DevOps functionalities. Looking to the future, scalable technologies are in development that will help enterprises focus on closing the gaps in the DevOps cycle and assist larger production data centers with the previously mentioned sandboxing strategy.

The solutions IT needs

It is widely accepted that in order to meet the business challenges of tomorrow, enterprise IT leaders will have to undergo something of an identity shift. For IT staffers, the coming years will be about redefining their roles to meet the evolving needs responsibilities of corporate IT, as TechRepublic's Patrick Gray asserted. While the changing nature of IT means that traditional ways of doing the job are on the way out, it's certainly not a doom and gloom situation for the CIOs who demonstrate a willingness to adapt to the needs of an evolving role, as Gray argued. 

"Technology has become so integrated and prevalent in corporate life that savvy CIOs will have ample opportunity to demonstrate their value and demonstrate the importance of their role," Gray wrote. "Key to surviving this transition is remaining flexible, and seeing shifts in IT spending power as opportunities to get closer to customers, rather than threats to be mitigated."

But IT leaders don't have to meet the changing enterprise landscape alone. With DevOps automation solutions like Quali CloudShell, they can equip themselves with the cloud sandboxing tools necessary to meet challenges with confidence. By enabling DevOps orchestration, supporting continuous testing processes and speeding up time-to-market, cloud sandboxing is the ultimate answer for IT departments looking to drive up agility while retaining robust management. 

The takeaway: IT still has a fair share of challenges ahead in 2016, which is why it's crucial to adapt now to expected shifts.

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