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Hero 2020 predictions
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2020 Predictions: Data Centers Play a Critical Role in Business Transformation

Chris Sharp, CTO
December 19, 2019

It’s hard to believe 2020 is upon us already. Last year, organizations leaned more heavily on data center experts for a range of experience and expertise – so much so that the industry experienced growth in areas such as cooling capabilities and multi-cloud migration, to hybrid cloud and centralized edge. 2020 is already looking like an equally exciting and dramatic year for change. We’ll see businesses deepen their commitment to sustainability, bring together cyber and physical security to safeguard data centers, invest further in edge capabilities and much more.

While we can’t know exactly what’s in store for the year ahead, one thing’s for sure: data centers will continue to play a critical role in enabling business transformation strategies in 2020 and beyond. When considering how this plays out, the following six predictions bring it all together:

1. Data Gravity will be the hidden barrier to digital transformation

Data is being generated at a rate that many enterprises can’t keep up with. Adding to this complexity, enterprises are dealing with data – both useful and not useful – from multiple locations that is hard to move and utilize effectively. This presents enterprises with a ‘data gravity’ problem that will prevent digital transformation initiatives from moving forward. In 2020, we’ll see enterprises tackle data gravity by bringing their applications closer to data sources rather than transporting resources to a central location. By localizing data traffic, analytics and management, enterprises will more effectively control their data and scale digital business.

2. Companies will look to their supply chains to drive sustainability

With the recent California and Amazon rainforest wildfires and the surge in climate change activism, individuals and enterprises are understanding that sustainability is more than just a “nice to have;” rather, they’re both financially and socially necessary. A recent survey found that 70 percent of respondents were more likely to choose working at a company with a strong environmental agenda. Coupled with that, millennials and Gen Zers, two overwhelmingly purpose-driven generations who care about what their employers stand for, make up the largest portion of the workforce today. In 2020, sustainability-driven companies will place high importance on supply chain sustainability – selecting responsible vendors and motivating current partners to report and improve upon sustainable business practices. To meet both market and employee demand, 2020 will bring an increase in businesses that invest in sustainable business practices. And data centers, in particular, will be in the forefront as customers ask providers to rely more heavily on renewable energy sources to fuel their operations.

3. IT strategies will shift toward creating centers of data within proximity to the edge

Cloud adoption is rapidly growing, yet market adoption for the network edge is in its nascent stage. Digital transformation will require IT architectures to be placed at the edge, bringing resources closer to the end user. To free up network assets for mission-critical tasks, enterprises in 2020 will invest in creating centers of data in closer proximity to the edge. We’ll see enterprises start to make bigger investments in shrinking the distance between computing resources and the edge to improve scalability, efficiency and cost savings.

4. Physical and cyber will converge to safeguard data centers

Physical security has long been a mainstay in data center security strategies. Enterprises are now investing heavily in cyber security measures to ensure their systems do not incur additional risks. In 2020 and beyond, data centers will begin to see physical and cyber security converge as advanced technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning are deployed to pinpoint abnormalities in both physical and cyber security and bolster remediation processes. As these technologies continue to mature, they will shift the security paradigm from one of “detect and respond” to “prevent and counter.”

5. The edge will be a catalyst for the next big shift in technology

Edge computing is already one of the biggest trends happening in networking and IT infrastructure spaces. In 2020, we’ll see advances in SDN, 5G and other networking technologies continue to reshape edge computing’s role for the enterprise – and for end users. We’ll start to see more businesses remove their components, data and services from a centralized core and place them closer to the edge so assets can be positioned where they’re needed most. Businesses will create centers of data exchange that reside between the core and the edge to enable reduced latency, improved network resiliency and increased efficiency. We predict the edge will become a significant catalyst for one of the biggest technology shifts of the decade, enabling AI, robotics, self-driving cars and other emerging technologies to reshape businesses.

6. Global organizations will shift their focus to offer solutions that are tailored to individual business needs

The digital economy has transformed how enterprises create and deliver value for their customers. In 2020 and beyond, enterprises will succeed if they operate on-demand, augmented by real-time intelligence to serve customers and their needs. Infrastructures of the future will not be architected based on existing topologies, they’ll be deployed with fit for purpose footprints that are tailored to unique business needs that interconnect digital ecosystems and enable business transformation.

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