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The Top Six Enterprise Network Predictions for 2017

Move over big data, here comes artificial intelligence. And hello, Internet of Things; you’ve finally made it to the party.

Those are just a couple of growth areas I see for enterprise networks in 2017.

With all the activity that took place in enterprise network computing in 2016, the coming year stands to bear fruit with some truly big trends – some good for the industry, some not. Based on daily conversations I have with enterprise IT leaders across the country, I’ve come to the conclusion that these are the areas IT professionals everywhere should see emerging in 2017

1.“Fake news” hits enterprise IT monitoring.

It’s Sunday night, and you’re about to drift off to sleep. Suddenly, your phone buzzes with a Code Red alert of a pending failure from your latest notification tool, which is tied in to your analytics engine – which in turn is running on top of your big data set of enterprise availability and performance metrics.

You quickly get the off-hours team on a bridge call to determine the best response to the incident. But instead of an immediate action plan, you end up spending two hours debating if there really is an incident or not. With so many different technologies at play across the network, it’s genuinely hard to tell. You miss a few hours of crucial sleep, and when you get to work the next day, everyone’s first question is, “Was that a real event?”

“Fake news” will hit the enterprises in the above scenario because a glut of new technologies is being adopted in large-scale networks, despite a limited understanding of how to deploy it effectively and how to interpret performance data correctly from all those inter-connected systems.

2. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning heats up.

Big data, the darling of IT predictions over the past couple of years, is now yesterday’s news. Next year, the story will be about how to leverage that data to turn it into knowledge.

DJ Patil, S. Chief Data Scientist at White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, made a bold statement at the Amazon Web Services AWS re:Invent conference in December – the cure for cancer has already been found, it is just distributed across thousands of databases across the world.

Patil made that reference to underscore how hard it is to actually discover new insights across very large scale distributed data sets – a problem that exists in every enterprise today.

In response to that problem, expect to see a wealth of technology following on the heels of the Amazon Web Services (AWS) announcements around Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.

Of course it’s just the beginning. These tools will make bold claims, but will still require data scientist-level users to truly deliver on their promises. But the direction is clear and the results will come.

3. Internet of Things grows up.

We have heard a lot about the Internet of Things (IoT), but 2017 is the when we will start to see it come alive. Much like the 10-year cycle for Cloud to be mainstream, IoT is on a long arc of acceptance, but the use cases are really starting to make sense. (I still don’t need a refrigerator to tell me I need milk, but I do like the crowdsourced impact of traffic updates through Waze.)

Cisco, AWS, Oracle, IBM and a host of smaller players all have viable IoT platforms. Watch for the concepts of IoT to be applied to real benefit in the enterprise, which will translate into improved network availability and reliability, and a better experience for end users.

4. Technology consolidation steps up.

From a financial perspective, there is still a lot of private equity money looking to be put to use, and a from an internal perspective, there are still a number of large-scale players needing a boost to top lines to satisfy investors.

As a result, expect continued large-scale mergers, acquisitions and similar financial deals throughout 2017. Consider that Slack recently announced a partnership with Google in response to Microsoft Teams announcements. That suggests Slack might be in play. (Some speculate Netflix is also target, but based on their culture alone, I’m not sure.)

And among more established companies, Cisco has the both need and dollars to continue buying, especially if their cash is moved onshore. It would not be surprising to see some acquisitions from them in the year to come.

5. More third party security through the cloud.

Security will continue to be a major focus in the coming year, and will remain the one of the top drivers of cloud migration for enterprise networks.

As cloud migration picks up speed, the speed, type, style and attack vectors of security threats will absolutely continue to increase and change. What was once considered a safe security stance will quickly be seen as outdated or more easily defeated.

Consequently, expect more enterprise leaders to rely on third party security responsibility through public cloud infrastructure.

6. Amazon asserts cloud market dominance.

The cloud went mainstream in 2016, and in 2017 the current market leader will put more distance between itself and it competition.

One of the ways AWS will continue to dominate will be by distancing itself further from competition with expansive new services. moving much farther up the Platform as a Service stack. It will just be too easy to use and too complete of a solution to ignore – much to the dismay of its (distant) rivals. Microsoft will make noise but no real market share progress on infrastructure computing. Despite attempts to make headway in the market, Google will remain a non-player and IBM Soft Layer will remain flat.

Late in the year, be on the lookout for surprise announcements from AWS that starts to look more and more like application services to compete with today’s simple Software as a Service vendors.

Indeed, 2017 is shaping up to be an exciting year. What remains to be seen is what enterprise network professionals will do to take advantage of these big trends.

Brian WilsonBrian Wilson is Senior VP of Customer Success at Zenoss.  Brian Wilson joined Zenoss in 2011 as Vice President of Services and Support and is responsible for all post sale customer-facing operations at Zenoss – from initial services engagement and deployment, to ongoing customer support and Services, account management, training, and finally to the subscription renewal process. He brings over 20 years of experience in ensuring customer success. Prior to joining Zenoss, Brian had worldwide responsibility for Services delivery of the Virtualization product portfolio at Quest Software. Brian joined Quest through the successful acquisition of Surgient, where he was VP of Client Services and was instrumental in the development of the first private cloud platform for Global 2000 enterprise customers. Prior to Surgient, Brian served in a senior management role to build the Services, Support and Sales Engineering organizations at WhisperWire, a venture backed telecommunications sales effectiveness start up, later acquired by Convergys Corporation. Prior to WhisperWire, Brian worked in the defense industry delivering virtual reality and visual simulation trainers to the armed forces. Brian holds a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin and M.S. in Industrial Engineering from the University of Alabama at Huntsville. He can be reached at bwilson@zenoss.com.

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