If there's one term that best describes the overall direction in which IT trends are headed, that term might be hybridization.
The mixing of species is an apt metaphor for what's happening in every dimension of information technology, from its management to its technical underpinnings. No longer a fixed realm where specific, well-defined functions are performed, IT is becoming a place where change is constant, and shifting sands are the order of the day.
We touch on some of this in IE's latest Big Report, "The Internet in 10 Years," where we describe IT as eventually becoming a sort of broker of services. But that's hardly the whole story. Following are some of the areas where IT hybridization will be most obvious, perhaps long before this decade is past:
Hybrid infrastructure. While virtualization and distribution of processing will likely make cloud services the backbone of IT, this doesn't mean there won't be in-house systems. Instead, the IT department will function with a hybrid infrastructure. As Jeffrey Kaplan of the THINKstrategies consultancy puts it, "Organizations of all sizes, across every industry will be capitalizing on a combination of cloud-based and on-premise systems and software."
Blended hardware and systems. Within the hybrid infrastructure of IT, systems themselves will become increasingly hybridized. As Greg Schulz, senior advisor at the Server and StorageIO Group consultancy, notes: "Another trend is convergence around servers, storage and networking from a technology [perspective]." Schulz also sees security features becoming part of systems that are aimed to manage data via various storage techniques, further defying the boundaries between IT gear today.
Data hybridization. Regarding IBM's recent purchase of enterprise search vendor Vivisimo, Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT, notes that by bringing Vivisimo's "advanced federation capabilities" into its analytics solutions, IBM will support structured as well as unstructured data. This could "fundamentally change the competitive landscape for big-data," King says, because analytics products could handle hybrids of data types, enabling the aggregation of information across a wider range of sources.
Hybridized IT management. Another aspect of the hybridization of IT will take place in its management. No longer the realm of technicians alone, the IT effort will encompass data scientists, statisticians, and, increasingly, financial gurus who can help match budgets to business goals. There may be creative types to deal with interface issues, as well as experts in social networking, search, security, and a range of other areas.
These are just a few examples of current trends. Certainly, mobility, social networking, analytics, sustainability, and other elements of the modern enterprise will continue to force other instances of IT blending and shape-shifting.
Many enterprises already are experiencing many of these hybridizations. But the blending of systems, solutions, services, and roles will continue, bringing even more variety. It will be a future of diversity for IT, and certainly one that promises to be interesting and full of opportunity.
— Mary Jander , Managing Editor, Internet Evolution