The past year has thrown a spotlight on the importance of Availability – both of services and data. There has been a number of high-profile systems outages across the globe - think travel and online shopping! The public has come to understand the importance of having access to accurate information and critical services on-demand.
Businesses in Singapore have also started to embrace key trends in IT that can help them to meet customer expectations and ensure seamless delivery of services:
- Blurring Lines between Public, Private and Hybrid Clouds: A few years ago, the thought of extending data center infrastructure to a hyper-public cloud may have seemed a futile endeavor of connectivity, security and a mix of unknown surprises. However, now the market is ready to accept the adoption of hybrid cloud architectures from both the infrastructure and application side. It's already happening and much greater mainstream adoption is on the horizon as enterprises look to enhance operational agility and reliability, while ensuring that data and applications are available at any time, from any device. In Singapore, UOB recently launched BizSmart, Asia’s first integration of five cloud-based digital applications to help retail businesses run their operations.
- The explosion of the software-defined infrastructure. It’s no secret that the software-defined data center has been a huge trend in recent years – thanks in part to the popularity of virtualization. Running applications in a virtualized environment brings many advantages for companies to help build efficiencies, provide reliability and a flexible IT infrastructure to ease management and free time and resources. As businesses evolve, expect to see more demands on vendors to provide software and services to meet the expectations of the next generation of innovators. In Singapore, many brick and mortar stores are going omnichannel, merging with websites, mobile applications and social media. Local tech retail giant Challenger implemented a click- and-collect system where customers can buy online and collect their purchase at any outlet; while local postal service, SingPost announced that they will be opening an e-commerce mall later this year where shoppers will be able to arrange for delivery to their homes their purchases after browsing in-store.
- Stay one step ahead of hackers. Threats from hacking, as well as the proliferation of botnets, and malware (specifically ransomware) will keep IT managers up at night throughout 2017. Globally, Singapore ranks third in the shortage of IT security talent, with 85% of CIOs expecting more frequent cyber attacks on their organizations in 2017 due to the lack of skilled talent in IT. We saw enormous burdens placed on organizations looking to maintain availability during 2016, with large attacks on DNS services causing major companies and services to be unreachable during critical times. As more businesses look to provide digital services, the hackers will be nipping at their heels. More than ever before, businesses will need to place additional emphasis on end-to-end data security, backup and recovery to ensure their services remain available for partners and customers.
- More Data, More Possibilities: The data center of today, and definitely of tomorrow, will increasingly hold more data – both historical and mission-critical. Whether it be an influx of inputs from the Internet of Things, more complex business systems, or growing amounts of existing data sets, the conclusion is obvious: the data deluge will continue. In 2016, the Monetary Authority of Singapore predicted that modern information and communications technology (ICT) services will play a major role in supporting growth in the economy, following a natural evolution of having a hyper-connected population. Recent months has seen many global software and data analytics organizations opening offices in Singapore, including German software giant,
SAP, global information firm Nielsen Holdings and the 100-year-old computer company, IBM. On the positive side, this benefits businesses looking to leverage advanced analytics to hone their existing operations and provide new services to customers. As we turn a new chapter in 2017, businesses will be able to gain more insight from the data they have collected; helping shape decisions and inform business strategies. However, these analytic capabilities will only bear fruit if data is both available and robust. For businesses relying on advanced analytics to drive operations, any downtime not only halts the ability to transact with customers and suppliers, but also stymies informed decision-making. Businesses will need to direct their attention to maintaining availability of mission-critical systems that underpin their analytics.
Specific predictions are always challenging, but the technology landscape today provides endless possibilities for organizations to provide great services based on the data center and the information a data center both houses and delivers. The expectation is that data is available on-demand. Gone are the days where downtime is considered a “normal” part of doing business. In 2017, the data center will take center stage and will serve as a critical piece of infrastructure to both store information and provide services to customers, employees and partners alike. Having a plan to ensure availability will be vital to maintaining business operations to meet – and exceed – expectations.
Raymond Goh is the Head of Systems Engineering, Asia & Japan, Veeam Software