At the beginning of this month, EMA analysts were asked for their predictions about what 2012 might bring. Responses spanned management solutions across applications, systems, network, security, services, assets, desktops, and mobile devices, as well as business intelligence and content management.
The results were surprisingly cohesive, and as a whole reflected core requirements in analytics, cloud, mobile, information sharing, and cultural transformations across IT. If there were one single takeaway, it might be that 2012 will continue to accelerate the trend to blur the lines across traditional IT (and business) silos, spurred in part by the requirements of cloud computing and the need for increased business relevance.
Here is a summary of some of these predictions — starting with the single area of greatest overall attention — analytics.
Advanced Performance-to-Business Management Analytics
Advances in analytics as applied to service, application and infrastructure performance management are becoming significant game changers in 2012.
With new solutions from both platforms and smaller suite providers automating insights into cross-domain performance interdependencies — across what sometimes become hundreds of different sources (or many hundreds of thousands depending on how it’s measured) the chances for IT to break through the insoluble areas of triage is more promising than ever. Given the many multiple advances in this area (and multiple analyst predictions in this space), it’s worth noting a few distinct areas within this broader direction:
- User Experience Management (UEM) has come into its own and cloud has helped it along as an ultimate point of IT governance.
Along with application performance insights, UEM may also explore business process and business behavior impacts, as well as shed light on how customers actually use IT services — perhaps the biggest single gap in running IT as a business.
- Executive Dashboards will thrive atop these advancing trends, and some will also have roots in data warehousing.
- Application Discovery and Dependency Mapping and the modeling it can deliver in connection with CMDB/CMS reconciliation—opens the door to a more contextual way of harvesting many different analytic tools.
- Melds: Capacity planning, performance, and business impact are all beginning to intersect in analytic “melds” across domains with both real-time and historical/trending values.
- Network: Applications and services all come together over the network—and network management will continue to drive forward with “application-aware” solutions with more powerful capabilities for leveraging application flows for performance, capacity, and even governance and compliance requirements.
Along with this, EMA predicts the rise of next generation network management platforms, optimized to support virtualized infrastructures, more rapid deployment, and the consolidation of roles that EMA has documented with the advent of cloud computing.
- Predictive Analytics in Support of Automation: While automation deserves its own heading, the relation between predictive analytics and automation technologies — from Workload Automation (WLA) to IT process automation (or run book) — will continue to transform the automation landscape.
Another, and not unrelated transformative factor will continue to be service modeling from the CMDB/CMS as modeled interdependencies and the policies around them will begin to advance in defining automation routines and associating them with larger processes.
As seen in the analytics section, cloud computing has played a large role as a catalyst in advancing more effective solutions for dynamic insights across domains—from application performance management to optimizing the virtualized infrastructure. This includes many permutations—from network to systems and from systems to storage.
EMA believes that virtualization-aware storage should become a target of innovation as vendors seek to eliminate storage as the “virtualization bottle neck.”
Endpoint virtualization will continue to be another key growth area as the management focus shifts to more service-oriented platforms.
Cloud is also offering new opportunities for flexibility and scalability in terms of on-demand compute power for delivering everything from business intelligence solutions to advanced business service management capabilities.
And, finally, cloud is finally beginning to deliver meaningfully to the promise of infrastructure-on-demand and application-on-demand, presenting process and cultural challenges for IT.
The Cultural Transformation of IT
Virtually none of these areas are purely technical in nature. All of them, in fact, will depend in various degrees on cultural and process changes as well.
One area singled out was Lean IT—with a continual growth in emphasis on measuring IT performance more meaningfully and realistically with the objective of continual improvement. The rising attention to unified demand management will require both a technology and a cultural or process focus if it is to be successful.
The potentially explosive shift from the CMDB to a truly federated, model-centric Configuration Management System (CMS) will be similarly a blend of cultural, process and technological transformation if it is to eventually succeed.
Will all this occur in 2012? It’s admittedly a lot to ask for but, of course, many of these trends will play out over several and, in some cases, many years. As for your skeptics — well then, it’s still only January!
Dennis Drogseth is VP at Enterprise Management Associates (EMA).