“Hybrid and multicloud will be the dominant architecture in the near future,” agreed John Woodall, vice president of engineering at General Datatech, a worldwide IT solutions provider and network integrator.
“Moving all your workloads to the cloud isn’t necessarily the most cost-effective thing to do right now. It’s also time-consuming to move a lot of data. Before [they move] more apps and data to the cloud, I’m talking to companies about the need for a better, more consistent way to handle their data strategy, wherever that data exists.”
Pervasive Zero Trust Security
Another topic high on IT post-pandemic priority lists is security.
“With an increasing number of workloads in the cloud, industry laggards will insist on deploying zero-trust security, which can be scaled much more effectively in the cloud than putting hardware appliances all over the place,” said Aryaka Networks’ Ginsburg.
Zero trust is an application of the “least privilege” security concept that assigns data and network access rights based on the bare minimum required for individuals and applications to perform their roles successfully. At the network level, zero trust typically involves building very narrow firewall policies around every enterprise server, virtual machine, and service to prevent unauthorized or unneeded access by internal users, external users, and applications.
“The frequency and severity of breaches are much more than what’s in the news,” according to Miles Ward, chief technology officer for SADA Systems, a cloud-centric business and technology consulting services company.
“Companies need to renew their focus on security, conduct active penetration testing to guard against being compromised, and de-risk wherever possible.”
In addition, the attack surface has exploded in size with the arrival of more mobile devices and remote endpoints, said General DataTech’s Woodall.
“IT is pursuing security at every level ─ in the data center, at the edge, in the cloud, in devices,” Woodall said. “And we’re seeing much more interest in cloud and especially software-as-a-service as more secure options.”
A Boost to Digital Transformation
Despite projected IT budget cuts, there is a growing consensus among IT professionals that the pandemic may have actually accelerated the pace of digital transformation. Virtual and augmented reality technology, for example, is being looked at by some companies wanting better interactions among employees and with customers. As the pandemic has kept consumers at home, L'Oréal, Kendra Scott and Suitsupply are among the retailers that have introduced virtual “try-on” tools to engage with shoppers.
Another facet of digital transformation influenced by the pandemic has been advanced analytics. Organizations need to understand constantly changing conditions to assess where they are now and plan how to move forward in a dynamic environment, according to author and analytics expert Fern Halper in a May 2020 TDWI blog.
“This includes gaining insights into customer behaviors, which impact products and pricing, optimizing supply chains, and continually updating revenue forecasts. All of this is the bread and butter of analytics,” she wrote.
SADA Systems’ Ward agrees.
“The way COVID-19 is being tracked and reported is also driving interest in business analytics,” he said. “With COVID, you’re seeing hospitals and epidemiologists put out sophisticated analytical modeling, with projections and growth curves. Business executives are seeing that and asking IT: ‘Where is that in my business? I want it!’”