As life has moved online during the pandemic, the tech industry has seen highs and lows. Demand for some types of computer equipment and digital services has expanded. However, every time I speak to a CIO or a head of IT about COVID-19, they understandably tell me that the virus has made life considerably more challenging. Consider the impact on IT of these pandemic-driven changes:
- Prior to the outbreak, only 8% of the American workforce telecommuted. By June 2020, 42% of the labor force was working from home full-time. Similar trends have played out globally.
- Demand for broadband communication services have soared, with operators in some countries experiencing as much as a 60% increase in internet traffic.
- Use of business collaboration apps have skyrocketed with the closure of offices. In one week in late March, downloads of apps such as Zoom, Slack and Teams topped 62 million according to one study.
- Most IT leaders now feel more pressure to increase operational efficiency, and 58% of IT pros said they faced heightened expectations of better customer experiences and improved security.
My prediction is that the extra pressure brought about by these trends won’t be short-lived. The CIOs I speak to agree and expect January of 2021 and January of 2022 to feel a lot more like NOW than January of 2020.
The good news is that IT leaders also expect to have a little more money with which to tackle these challenges in the next 12 months as the pandemic accelerates digital transformation efforts.
In my mind, those expanding budgets are evidence that there will be no quick return to the old ways of doing business or running IT. Federated collaboration, an elevated focus on infrastructure resiliency and cyber security, and an acceleration of digital transformation efforts are here to stay.
Delivering IT Agility When It Matters Most
As a technology and services provider, Hitachi Vantara is rapidly evolving its strategy to support these new priorities, particularly around four major trends:
1. More Cloud and Cloudification – Clients increasingly tell us that they intend to rapidly expand the number of cloud migrations and modernizations wherever architecturally possible and economically feasible. Mega projects may have slowed or paused, but they appear to be increasing the number of quick and targeted ‘move-to-the-cloud’ initiatives which deliver business value much faster.
2. Application Modernization Pace Accelerates – Clients are under pressure to spend less time and resources “keeping the lights on.” This is translating into the accelerated modernization of their application portfolio including legacy ERP applications. More clients want to transition from on-premise versions of Oracle and SAP to SaaS versions of the same, and to hand-off execution and operation of those applications to solution providers.
3. Hyperconverged for Infrastructure Scales Out (and Back) Like Never Before – The effects of COVID-19 have hit businesses in waves. For example, the IT teams who pivoted first to embrace digital commerce and customer experiences now face a new challenge: quickly scaling out operations to capitalize on the explosion of digital business. On the other hand, sudden COVID-19-related economic contractions require more resource flexibility than ever before. As a result, we anticipate continued strong growth in hyperconverged and software-defined infrastructure that is well suited to the rapid scale up, down and reallocation of resources.
4. Work-From-Home IT Elevates the Importance of Automation – It isn’t just front-line sales, services and support employees who are working from home now. IT is too. And with increasing pressure on IT to support hundreds or perhaps thousands of remote employees with tech support, IT leaders are more motivated than ever to take the ‘administration’ out of engineering. This is sparking more interest in management tools that automate manual tasks and processes.
Naturally, we continue to innovate to support our clients’ ability to address these trends and requirements and to deliver the agility they need at the time they need it most. Earlier this morning, for example, Hitachi Vantara announced enhancements across our hyperconverged infrastructure portfolio (read the press release) that will enable faster provisioning of those ‘scale out’ resources I mentioned earlier.
With today’s announcement, we added certified support for SAP HANA workloads to our Hitachi Unified Compute Platform product family so clients can more rapidly gain real-time insights from their data. We also boosted performance with new Intel Cascade Lake processors.
Today’s news is just the first wave of several exciting Hitachi Vantara innovations you can expect to hear about in the coming months and quarters.
Coming soon: news about software-defined data storage as well as new storage-as-a-service offerings. We’ll also be building on our Containership acquisition to bring software to clients that accelerates their ability to realize the big cost savings that come from running containerized applications in the cloud.
Watch this space!