2018 will be an exciting year; there are many changes happening in the IT industry, an industry which has always been a dynamic and ruthless marketplace where winners and losers are merit-based. We're heading into the new year with different technologies in the field being at clearly different stages in their development and evolution. Some technologies are just starting to mature, others are having mid-life or identity crises and trying to decide what they want to be as they mature, yet others are well-established and trying to fend off the young upstarts. With all of this in mind, here are my predictions about the five virtualization and cloud trends that will shape IT in 2018.
Hyper-Converged Infrastructure (HCI). Most analysts predict the growth of HCI will continue unabated for the next five years. The first-generation HCI products have been delivered and are starting to run critical applications in the datacenter. But nothing in IT is stable, and vendors are starting to speculate and question what will define the next generation of HCI: Will it only be a shared management plane between storage, network and compute? Do storage, network and compute need to share the same CPU and memory to be considered hyper-converged? Will HCI evolve to be a truly hybrid computing platform that seamlessly integrates with public cloud resources, or will it be something else? While nothing is certain, we should have a clearer idea of what constitutes the next-generation HCI platform in 2018.
Cloud-Native Applications. Cloud-native applications are defined by how (not where) applications are created and deployed; their development encompasses DevOps, continuous delivery, microservices and containers. These technologies are starting to be sorted out as they reach maturity; some of the more interesting smaller companies will inevitably be acquired by major companies, and we'll start to identify the winners and the losers next year as the cream rises to the top.
A Shift in Server Sales. The big secret in server sales doesn't have to do with the overall increase in sales, but the fact that new servers are going to cloud providers, not datacenters. Moreover, in place of traditional vendors, original design manufacturing (ODM) companies are supplying them to the cloud providers. In 2018, HCI and cloud providers will further erode datacenter server sales, but overall server sales will increase.
Internet of Things (IoT). VMware, Microsoft and Dell Technologies, along with every other major vendor and many smart small startups, are betting that IoT will be a big market, which it undoubtedly will be. IoT will be used to monitor everything from your home heating and cooling to your car, and we'll start to see products that separate out, store and manage the interesting and pertinent information from this huge amount of data in a logical manner.
VMware Cloud (VMC) on AWS. What happens when the biggest player in datacenter virtualization pairs up with the biggest player in the public cloud? At VMworld this year, VMware announced that it was jumping into the cloud with Amazon Web Services (AWS). In 2018, we should begin to see the fruit of this agreement and get a clearer sense of how this implementation is going, though it will take a few years to truly see if this relationship between the two companies is synergetic or parasitic in nature. On one side, VMware is betting that it will have the best management stack to manage, orchestrate, and control applications; on the other side, AWS is betting that it will have the best platform on which to deploy enterprise-grade applications. In any case, it will be an interesting trend to watch in 2018.