2018 Predictions: Rapid Transformation, Smart Data and Mission-Critical Connectivity
January 17, 2018

Michael Segal
NetScout

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With more than one-third of IT Professionals citing "moving faster" as their top goal for 2018, and an overwhelming 99 percent of IT and business decision makers noticing an increasing pace of change in today's connected world, it's clear that speed has become intrinsically linked to business success.

For companies looking to compete in the digital economy, this pace of transformation is being driven by their customers and requires speedy software releases, agility through cloud services, and automation.

Speed becomes a primary business objective

As we look ahead to 2018, we therefore expect businesses to place increased focus on accelerating the development and deployment of applications and services, while maintaining quality and cutting costs: juxtaposing tasks. To achieve this, more and more companies will look to elastically expand their infrastructure by moving compute applications and storage workloads to the cloud and delivering services through hybrid, on-prem and public cloud environments.

In the rush to embrace digital transformation, organizations must ensure they don't lose sight of whether the hybrid cloud is delivering real business value

However, in the rush to embrace digital transformation (DX), organizations must ensure they don't lose sight of whether the hybrid cloud is delivering real business value. To best evaluate its effectiveness, it is imperative that organizations continuously monitor their entire infrastructure to provide a 360 view of business services, infrastructure and their interdependencies, which will enable them to quickly identify current or potential problems.

Assuring networks and applications will be paramount

DX will also power a surge in momentum for the IoT, with the number of connected devices predicted to reach 23.14 billion by 2018. We expect to see the IoT continue to touch all aspects of the digital economy, unlocking enormous benefits in a wide range of sectors, from agriculture to automotive.

With more and more IoT technologies underpinning critical applications, such as disaster monitoring and military situational awareness, and the amount of IoT devices and use cases increasing, businesses will be under increasing pressure to maintain connectivity and communication across a myriad of wireless and wired, physical and virtual, local and wide area networks. In 2018, assured delivery of IoT services will therefore become key determiners for success.

As operators in the US and around the world take steps towards delivering 5G connectivity, IoT applications and services would significantly benefit by utilizing the 5G technology to achieve a truly ubiquitous, reliable, scalable, and cost-efficient Device-to-Device connectivity between nearby mobiles. This will support use cases such as vehicle-to-vehicle communications, public safety, or mobile data offloading, as well as sensors deployed throughout a smart city. However, for 5G to be truly heralded a success, organizations and governments will need to know how to assure availability, reliability, responsiveness and security of applications and services delivered across their networks.

Environmental data comes to the forefront

With the amount of data in the world predicted to increase at least 50 fold between 2010 and 2020, we'll also start to see growing emphasis being placed on how that data is stored. Collecting large volumes of raw log data from multiple applications and infrastructure components and sending it to a central location for storage and processing, for example, increases the size and cost of storage and communications over the Wide Area Network (WAN).

Furthermore, the surging demand for data has environmental implications; by 2020, 12 percent of the world's energy consumption will be taken by our digital ecosystem, and this is expected to grow annually at approximately 7 percent until 2030. As these high costs and inefficiencies could hugely undermine the advantages big data brings, we expect to see more and more businesses take a smarter approach to data collection, organization and processing, saving not only on storage costs, but also on communications, electricity and raw material, beginning the journey towards a greener and brighter data-driven future.

Data gets smarter

By utilizing smart data, which distills the essence of the traffic flows that traverse the service delivery infrastructure in a distributed fashion, close to the source, and compresses it into metadata, businesses can ensure they only store the information that holds real value. This information can then be used to gain meaningful and actionable insights, helping organizations to gain a competitive edge while driving efficiencies by enabling data to be rapidly compressed, and substantially reducing the volume of data stored by an order of magnitude or more.

Smart data is already used to power a range of service, operations and business analytics across different industries including automotive, manufacturing and healthcare, and we expect its usage to increase dramatically in 2018. With the proliferation of IoT sensors, mobile devices and digital services creating an abundance of data used by the various applications and services that rely on hybrid cloud infrastructure, having the ability to convert smart data into meaningful and actionable IT and business insights, will help corporations to thrive in 2018 and beyond.

Michael Segal is VP of Strategy at NetScout
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