2019: Domination of the digital economy begins with cloud, edge computing and containers

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Anil Valluri, President, NetApp India

The current decade is in its mature years and through the last 8 years, we have seen a never-before data proliferation. More than ever, today, we have a critical mass of data that can lead to fruitful predictions across industries, and truly becoming a source of revenue and disruptive innovation. To keep up with the rapid pace of change, organizations are investing in digital transformation to gain the ability to swiftly adapt and outperform their competitors. Dubbed as data thrivers in IDC’s white paper 1, such organizations have three times greater new customer acquisition and increased profitability than enterprises that are not data driven. By digitally enhancing their operations and offerings, business leaders are able to collect and harness data to gain insights that can help unlock new business opportunities.

In 2019, four key tech trends could lend the sparks that enterprises need to accelerate their digital transformation and become data thrivers.

1. Cloud will bolster AI development 

AI is set to become a norm in Asia Pacific, with 55 percent of organizations in the region already implementing or are expanding the use of AI this year. Organizations are expected to increasingly deploy cloud-based AI software and service tools in 2019, to ensure that AI applications deliver high performance and scalability, both on and off premises, and support multiple data access protocols and varied new data formats. This also calls for the infrastructure supporting AI workloads to be fast, resilient, and automated. While AI will certainly become the next battleground for infrastructure vendors, most development will start in the cloud.

Take Shanghai PPDAI for instance. By deploying NetApp’s hybrid flash solution as part of its IT infrastructure, its internet finance platform is now able to use AI to process a massive amount of unstructured data and accurately assess a user’s creditworthiness. This capability therefore allows them to better serve the financially underserved by safely lending money to consumers who do not have access to traditional credit scores.

2. Edge devices will get smarter

Asia Pacific is expected to house 8.6 billion Internet of Things (IoT) devices by 2020 and become the world’s largest 5G region with 675 million 5G connections by 2025. To take advantage of the resulting data deluge, organizations will need the ability to process data at the edge to quickly gain insights and make real-time decisions. IoT devices and applications will therefore increasingly come with built-in services such as data analysis and data reduction. This will enable them to make better, faster and smarter decisions about what data requires immediate action, what data gets sent home to the core or to the cloud, and even what data can be discarded.

One industry that will greatly benefit from smarter edge devices is the manufacturing sector. With IoT devices processing data at the edge, a manufacturer can realize predictive

maintenance by detecting early signs of equipment failure, which helps prevent costly breakdowns or maintenance checks that unnecessarily hold up production.

3. Hybrid, multi-cloud will be the default IT architecture for most larger organizations while others will choose the simplicity and consistency of a single cloud provider.

By 2024, 90 percent of the G1000 organizations will mitigate vendor lock-in through multi and hybrid cloud technologies. By using technologies such as containers and data fabric, these organizations will be able to flexibly and easily move workloads across environments while having full control over them.

The Bank of America, for example, is using containers for app testing and development. By doing so, the bank’s developers and infrastructure staff are able to focus on high-value work instead of managing middleware systems and messaging buses, which do not generate revenue for the bank.

Despite the benefits of hybrid and multi-cloud, they will not be the default IT architecture for smaller organizations. This is because data itself can be far less portable than compute and application resources, which affects the portability of runtime environments. Moreover, some cloud services may be exclusive to a particular cloud provider, which means that those services cannot be ported to other environments.

Regardless of the path chosen, organizations will also need to develop supporting policies and practices to fully benefit from cloud adoption.

4. Data services will be invisible, and apps no longer need to move since the rise of containers will result in the trend toward abstraction of individual systems and services, it will drive IT architects to design for data and data processing and to build hybrid, multi-cloud data fabrics rather than just data centers.

With the application of predictive technologies and diagnostics, decision makers will become increasingly reliant on robust yet “invisible” data services that deliver data when and where it’s needed, regardless of where it is stored. These new capabilities will also automate the brokerage of infrastructure services as dynamic commodities and the shuttling of containers and workloads to and from the most efficient service provider solutions for the job.

In Asia, the adoption of Kubernetes rose by 58 percent in just seven months this year, which indicates that enterprises are becoming more willing to use container orchestration tools. We foresee this trend to continue since such tools can help ease the management of containerized apps, which are expected to grow exponentially as a result of containers and hybrid/multi-cloud becoming a norm in enterprises.

2019 will also see the emergence of container-based cloud orchestration technologies that enable hybrid cloud app development. Since this means that new apps will be developed for both public cloud and on-premises use cases, it will make it easier to move workloads to where data is being generated instead of porting data to where apps sit.
With disruption and change being the only constant, it is crucial for organizations to be able to turn data into a strategic asset and flexibly respond to market changes. Enterprises should therefore embrace hybrid cloud, containers, and edge computing to gain those capabilities and advance business growth in the digital economy.

Authored By Anil Valluri, President, NetApp India & SAARC 

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