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VMworld 2018 highlights seven key 2018 tech trends

by David Davis

The annual virtualization confab will feature many of IT trends for 2018—containers, 5G and edge computing— that are critical for IT managers to consider.

It’s been said that IT infrastructure isn’t sexy anymore. Many in the technology industry now regard the application layer as the hotspot for innovation and agility.

But over the past several years, IT infrastructure has helped drive important advances in IT speed, agility, security and innovation. With new capabilities like networking virtualization and networking programmability, 5G technology and edge computing, as well as other new trends, IT infrastructure has earned back some of its lost mojo.

At VMworld 2018, the focus will be on how new infrastructure technologies have enabled business processes and innovation—and some of the developments yet to come as these technologies mature.

No. 1 2018 tech trend: Maximizing virtualization and consolidation ratios

While most IT organizations have virtualized their server infrastructure to enable rapid change, better server utilization and cloud architecture, many still need to take virtualization to the next level. Server virtualization entails virtualizing hardware into software—known as virtual machines (VMs). These VMs mimic the functionality of hardware, while enabling better resource utilization, with many VMs dedicated to one physical server.

Still, while many companies have begun the server virtualization journey, they haven’t exploited virtual infrastructure to its full potential. They could attain further benefits through greater consolidation and other steps.

For example, most companies can further maximize virtual infrastructure by taking these steps:

  • Further consolidate servers (intelligently). Most companies still have physical servers in their data centers and need to achieve the elusive goal of 100% virtualization. In many cases, greater consolidation ratios can be attained without adding virtual hosts or licenses (depending on resource availability and physical host resource requirements).

    By increasing server-to VM consolidation ratios, IT organizations can further maximize their investment in virtual infrastructure. Nonetheless, you don’t want to complete the consolidation without proper planning and without the latest resource optimization and balancing tools in place. Those automated load balancing features should also become more proactive instead of reactive to ensure workloads never suffer performance degradation.
  • Use virtualized storage. Too many companies still rely on aging, low performing, storage area networking and network-attached storage technologies. By virtualizing these storage solutions, in software, and distributing it across the virtual infrastructure, IT organizations could further exploit the virtual infrastructure (and lower their costs).

    Additionally, more intelligent storage virtualization solutions include advanced software-defined storage capabilities with, for example, policy-based storage management and proactive storage performance optimization. Resolving a storage issue no longer has to be reactive, with engineers acting only after users complain about slow application performance. With intelligent storage performance and capacity optimization features included in the latest software-defined storage technologies, storage performance (low latency and high input/output operations per second) and storage capacity can be continually ensured.

No. 2 2018 tech trend: Exploiting software-defined networking (SDN)

Just as software-defined storage makes virtualized storage more mature, software-defined networking brings virtualized networks to a whole new level. SDN shifts capabilities from hardware to software. As a result, networking engineers can direct and manage traffic from a centralized control console via software without having to configure individual hardware components and without having to worry about the specific devices that components are connected to. In a cloud- and Internet-of-Things- (IoT-) driven world, this newfound flexibility and speed makes IT far more responsive to business needs.

Here are some reasons that many companies are now considering SDN:

  • Compliance. Many compliance standards now require increased security in the data center that is possible only with software-defined networking.
  • Multi-cloud networking. Multicloud architecture allows consistent network configurations and security across multiple sites and even into the public cloud.
  • Automation. By automating network provisioning and management, secure virtual networks can be provisioned with tremendous agility.
  • Increased security. Through strategies like network segmentation, enterprises can more effectively bolster network security.

No. 3 2018 tech trend: Strengthening security

With malicious hacking and security compromises becoming commonplace, smart IT organizations know that they must strengthen their security posture. One of the best ways to bolster network security is through microsegmentation and network functions virtualization (NFV), made possible through SDN. As part of implementing microsegmentation IT organizations spend time analyzing the traffic flows between critical applications as well as in and out of the data center. Once traffic is understood, microsegmentation allows you to create security policies down to the application level. As a result, a company’s network and critical data can be far more secure.

With NFV, IT teams can quickly and easily deploy software-based firewalls and load balancers when new applications are deployed. What this means is that firewalls can be deployed as needed to protect all applications. Also, load balancers can be put in place automatically with new applications to ensure quality of service for end users and to guard against denial of service attacks.

No. 4 2018 tech trend: Containers and Kubernetes

As more companies modernize their applications for the cloud, mobility and IoT, they are looking to run those applications in lightweight containers that are orchestrated by solutions such as Kubernetes, an open source container technology that enables development, management and deployment of applications in isolated environments. Well-orchestrated containerized applications provide IT organizations the scalability, availability and application portability that agile companies need. Of great interest for VMworld 2018 attendees will be how to migrate applications to containers and how to run containers (and container orchestration) on existing virtualized infrastructure.

No. 5 2018 tech trend: Considering edge computing

As applications are modernized, IT organizations are considering edge computing as a solution for applications that process real-time data. By moving data processing for specific applications to the edge, closer to where the applications, devices and users reside, companies can reduce network traffic and costs while increasing application performance. VMworld 2018 attendees will be interested to learn how to deploy edge computing while still maintaining the management, security and compliance systems that they already have in place.

No. 6 2018 tech trend: Anticipating 5G

The long-awaited 5G wireless is coming soon, and it will bring faster mobile bandwidth and greater device access—without compromising security. For example, initial tests and predictions of 5G wireless speeds provide between 500Mb/sec and 1Gb/sec bandwidth at low latency. With this type of throughput, companies and consumers alike will find incredible new uses for mobile networks such as remote surgery, self-driving cars, real-time drone feeds, virtual reality, and faster, more secure home-bandwidth options.

No. 7 2018 tech trend: Moving to the cloud

Finally, IT organizations are migrating to the cloud where it makes financial or business sense. Common use cases for are cloud-based data protection/disaster recovery, web-facing applications, highly-elastic workloads and cloud-native applications.

It’s also important to note that migrating to the cloud involves hybrid cloud strategies, with some data and applications continuing to reside on-premises in a company’s data center, some in public clouds, and increasingly, some at the edge. IT organizations must continually weigh the benefits of public cloud as compared to on-premises alternatives.

All this points to several key IT trends moving front and center at this year’s VMworld. These trends are the backbone of all the application and device capabilities enterprises will need in the coming years—whether to promote intelligence and real-time collaboration among teams, to provide greater mobility and insight at the edge without the latency of going to the cloud or to promote new business capabilities through connected devices.

All of this technology will be on display at VMworld 2018, including benefits and ongoing challenges. If you’re a networking engineer or infrastructure architect, these IT trends are no doubt top of mind for you. See you there!

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David Davis

David Davis is a well-known author, speaker, and evangelist in enterprise technology. Davis has created more than 50 technology video training courses for Pluralsight and he holds several certifications including VCP, VCAP, and CCIE. Davis has been awarded the VMware vExpert award 10 years running. He’s a partner at ActualTechMedia.com. Follow him on Twitter as @DavidMDavis or on LinkedIn as linkedin.com/in/davidmdavis.