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The Biggest Trends in Business Tech in 2016

As 2016 draws to a close, here is a look at some of the year's major enterprise technology trends, including cloud adoption, hyperconverged infrastructure, mobile security and more.

The last days of 2016 are drawing near, providing an opportunity to look back on major trends from the year in business technology — and what to look forward to in 2017.

A great deal happened in the world of enterprise IT this year, as Dell acquired EMC to create a tech behemoth; the world became more aware of the dangers posed by the Internet of Things thanks to the Dyn DDoS attack; and BlackBerry stopped developing hardware internally to focus more on software and enterprise security.

But which technologies helped define the year in the business technology world? And how did adoption of these key IT elements change and evolve? While augmented reality and artificial intelligence are flashy and will likely grow in importance in the years ahead, they are not yet the technologies that drive most businesses.

We think the following technology trends were key to how the business world embraced and managed IT this year, and they are likely to remain important in 2017.

Do you think we missed out on a major business IT trend from 2016? Please let us know in the comments! Here is our recap of business technology from this year:

SMB Cloud Adoption

The cloud is nothing new, but 2016 saw a rise in cloud adoption, especially among small and medium-sized businesses. According to IDC’s 2016 “State of the SMB Cloud” report, in the last five years SMB cloud adoption nationwide has gone from under 20 percent of firms to more than 70 percent for small companies (fewer than 100 employees) and more than 90 percent for midmarket firms (100-999 employees).

What’s driving adoption? According to IDC, some factors include a desire for cloud storage services, including cloud-based back-up and archiving; the continued presence of employee-owned mobile devices; and the adoption of mobile email and basic collaborative apps like Microsoft Office 365.

The average number of sanctioned cloud apps and services (excluding line-of-business shadow IT projects) has risen dramatically, IDC notes. Small businesses are running an average of four cloud services or apps, and midmarket firms are running an average of eight, indicating a higher level of comfort with hosted IT and a deeper need to use more advanced IT solutions.

As SMBs adopt cloud technologies, they need to make sure they have the right in-house expertise and training to handle the migrations, and then manage cloud services afterward.

Shift to Hyperconverged Infrastructure

Although the idea of hyperconverged infrastructure — in which computing, storage, networking and virtualization capabilities are all pre-integrated and controlled by a single management layer — has been around from several years, in 2016 it started to take off as a trend.

HCI implementations are on track to rise 54 percent this year at midsized and large enterprises, and growth rates will likely continue to accelerate in the months ahead, according to a report by ActualTech Media. And according to research firm 451 Research’s “Voice of the Enterprise” survey of IT buyers, hyperconverged infrastructure is currently in use at 40 percent of organizations, and analysts at 451 expect that number to rise substantially over the next two years.

Hyperconverged infrastructure can deliver real-world benefits to SMBs, including lower costs, increased redundancy, and greater ability to respond to unpredictable demand for IT resources. In addition to having to purchase, integrate and manage fewer systems, IT managers can shift their IT staff members from managing different systems toward tasks that will help businesses generate more revenue.

The adoption of hyperconverged infrastructure is also enabling greater use of client virtualization tools, according to IDC analyst Rob Young, research director for IT service management and client virtualization software. “Every year for the past five or 10 years was supposed to be the year of virtual desktop infrastructure and it hasn’t happened,” he said. Now, thanks to HCI, that’s starting to change, as hyperconverged data center infrastructure can support the deployment of a wider range of lightweight endpoints.

Evolutions in Enterprise Mobility and Mobile Security

A business without an enterprise mobility strategy is missing a critical part of its IT battle plan. What has happened in the past year? IDC analyst Denise Lund, research director for the firm’s mobile enterprise research programs, said that businesses are starting to develop more mobile applications targeted at both internal operations and consumers. She also says that there is a growing push among enterprises to migrate nonmobile internal apps to mobile platforms, and that by 2019 a stronger effort will go into developing mobile apps as opposed to doing such migrations.

Lund says there are also more expectations around the level of security needed on mobile apps for business users, which is driving interest in mobile application management and services. Mobile security is definitely a major concern for IT leaders.

According to Tenable’s 2017 “Global Cybersecurity Assurance Report Card,” only 57 percent of respondents were able to assess mobile cybersecurity risks, down from 65 percent in the 2016 report. Meanwhile, according to a September report from Nokia, mobile device infections rose 96 percent in the first half of 2016, compared to the latter half of 2015. Even Apple, which has a strong reputation for the security of its products, had to patch its iOS mobile platform following revelations of a piece of malware called “Pegasus” that could take over the camera and microphone of a user’s iPhone.

Phil Hochmuth, program director on IDC’s enterprise mobility team, says there is increasing awareness among IT leaders and buyers for enterprise security software that resides on mobile endpoints. Startups like Zimperium, Skycure, Wandera, Appdome and others are gaining momentum, Hochmuth says, and are striking partnerships with more established firms like BlackBerry (as Zimperium and Appdome did). These firms are addressing malicious apps and networks and detecting anomalies, Hochmuth says. Increasingly, enterprise mobility management is seen as the baseline, and EMM players are striking partnerships with endpoint security specialists.

In October, Symantec and VMware unveiled a strategic partnership to unify endpoint management and broader threat security. Symantec joined the VMware Mobile Security Alliance, a group of digital security companies that work to mitigate mobile threats by providing advanced security solutions that are seamlessly integrated into the VMware AirWatch Enterprise Mobility Management Platform.

Rawpixel/ThinkStock
Dec 16 2016

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