What’s in Store for 2020?
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First, let’s get the obvious out of the way: Data will continue to grow. Public cloud adoption will increase. We will see increases in investment in application development and modern Dev/Ops practices. We will also see continued investment in highly valuable data-centric workloads such as analytics, machine learning, and deep learning. These trajectories started prior to 2019, and we will likely see them to continue into 2020 and beyond. Otherwise, here are my predictions for 2020:

One or More Public Cloud Providers Will Acquire an On-premises/Hybrid Data Storage Company

The long-held perception that eventually all IT will be public cloud-based is starting to fade. Hybrid cloud infrastructure is the de facto standard of modern IT. And for digital businesses, data is increasing on- and off-premises at similar rates. In other words, on-premises infrastructure will be a significant part of IT for the foreseeable future. In response, multiple public cloud providers have announced hybrid cloud solutions, such as AWS Outposts, Google Cloud’s Anthos, and Microsoft Azure Stack. Then last year, Google acquired Elastifile to bolster its cloud file storage portfolio. I expect that this move is only the beginning. As the cloud space becomes more competitive and as hybrid offerings become more important, the need for advanced services and capabilities will fuel more technology acquisitions, with file storage being a likely target area for candidates.

IT Investment in Data Identification and Classification Will Accelerate

High-value workloads such as analytics, machine learning, and IoT workloads are driving data growth both on-premises and in the cloud. And IT organizations with extreme levels of data growth, such as 50% or more annually, are far more likely than slow data growth organizations to identify a lack of content awareness as a top data storage challenge.4 I am stepping back a little from last year’s prediction, as identifying and locating the right data is a major business problem hindering digital efforts, but not crippling them. This is still a major area of concern for digital businesses. I expect addressing data classification, especially with tools that expedite and maximize the use of metadata, across a hybrid cloud ecosystem to be a top three investment area for digital enterprises in 2020.

4. ibid.

Consolidated Hybrid Cloud Operations Will Become the Standard IT Organization Model

As recently as two years ago, a majority of IT organizations managed public cloud services and on-premises infrastructure separately.5 This year, I expect not only a significant majority of IT organizations to consolidate on- and off-premises responsibilities into one team, but also significant investment growth in management tools that span both on- and off-premises infrastructure environments. This prediction is based on an expectation that significant increases in Kubernetes and container-based workloads adoption will be the catalyst. Container-based workloads are far more likely to span on- and off-premises environments, demanding consistency across developers and IT. This need for consistency will fuel shifts in organizational structure and management.

5. Source: ESG Master Survey Results, The Emergence of Multi-cloud Strategies, April 2018.

Integrated Machine Learning Based on Telemetry Data Becomes Tablestakes For IT Infrastructure Buying

Neary every CIO wants an IT infrastructure solution tailored to his or her company’s specific needs. Unfortunately, few, if any, organizations truly understand their own workload requirements. This lack of insight often becomes exposed when IT organizations shift applications to public cloud services, and the cost equation changes. Multiple infrastructure solutions have emerged which gather telemetry data based on the production application environment and then analyze that data with machine learning to provide recommendations as well as support automation. In 2020, these features will jump to the forefront of IT buying decisions.