EXCLUSIVE: Tech experts give their predictions

1. Edge computing

Aad Dekkers, marketing director EMEA at Scale Computing believes that edge computing will be a technology focus throughout 2018 – “today’s businesses need a harmonised combination of on-premises and cloud solutions and this need will drive a more optimised and balanced micro data centre at the edge – early adopters have already made advances in developing the foundational capabilities. This will be pushed forward not only through the commoditisation of virtualisation, but by integrating with a hyperconverged infrastructure. As this new technology emerges businesses will be looking for advice and consultation on its security, applications, value-adds and more”.

2. Devops

Nigel Kersten, chief technical strategist at Puppet said: “We’re going to see a huge backlash against DevOps given the term has become synonymous with the CI system. 2018 will be the year when we will need to reassess what the term DevOps means. We have reached a point where DevOps is well understood at the practitioner level, but we are seeing vendors and companies figure out how the entire organization can understand it.”

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“When it comes to DevOps, vendors need to start thinking about how they tackle issues from a more end-to-end systemic approach rather than point solutions Vendors need to start thinking about how they tackle issues from a more end-to-end systemic approach rather than point solutions.”

3. Ransomware

“Throughout 2018, ransomware will continue to evolve, becoming smarter and more targeted towards production systems, with bigger pay-outs from breaches rather than encryption becoming the ultimate goal,” says Nigel Tozer, director solutions marketing at Commvault. “Furthermore, the cyber arms race will continue as more and more security vendors turn to AI to make defences more effective. While this has been growing in 2017, the move to AI is set to continue in the coming year.”

4. Cloud storage

“Throughout 2018, we will see true cloud native storage solutions – application centric, platform agnostic and consistently available – become an essential element for running containers in production,” continues Alex Chircop, CTO at StorageOS.

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“This will allow developers to achieve high availability, better performance and security for their applications,Cloud native applications will no doubt continue to rise, as orchestrated containers platforms that are based on Kubernetes become fundamental for the deployment and management of applications in both cloud and on-premises environments.”

5. Hybrid Cloud

Rob Strechay, SVP product at Zerto believes this year will be where hybrid cloud becomes a reality. “In 2017, companies dipped their toes into a combination of managed service providers (MSP), public cloud and on-premises infrastructure. In 2018, organisations will look to leverage hybrid clouds for orchestration and data mobility to establish edge data centers that take advantage of MSPs with large bandwidth into public clouds, ultimately bringing mission critical data workloads closer to front-end applications that live in the public cloud. Companies will also leverage these capabilities to bring test or QA workloads to burst in a MSP or public cloud. Having the ability to move data back and forth from MSPs, public clouds and on-premises infrastructure will also enable companies to take advantage of the costs structure that hybrid cloud provides.”

6. Artificial intelligence

Heide Abelli, senior vice president of content product management at Skillsoft suggests that “2018 will be the year when we see further advances in artificial intelligence (AI). Most of us are familiar with Siri and Alexa, intelligent voice assistants that can help us with ‘one dimensional’ questions such as where is the nearest petrol station, what will the weather be like today…?”

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“Within the next couple of years, digital learning agents powered by AI will take that to the next level and beyond. They’ll know who you are, what learning content is relevant to you, what time of day you like to learn, how you like to learn and so on. Looking further ahead into the future digital learning agents will take on additional roles, including that of interactive coach or mentor.”

“Expensive human coaches will likely become a thing of the past. The AI-powered digital coach will monitor performance, and record improvement over time. When switched on the digital coach will be behind-the-scene during every conversation, listening and recording verbal comments – all in the spirit of personal improvement. It could be used, for example, to understand how often certain words are used in a feedback session, or identify if cognitive bias is introduced in a conversation. It will even be able to record biometric information – how much eye contact is made and interpret facial expressions – to give the most personalised feedback possible.”

7. Workplaces of the future

In 2018 there’s going to be a much greater focus on the employee environment, says Betsey Banker, wellness market manager at Ergotron. The “importance of intentionally creating spaces that positively impact the health, happiness and productivity of inhabitants.”

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“It won’t be enough to provide spaces free of obvious risks, for instance, eliminating slip/trip hazards. 2018 will be the year of clean air and water, natural lighting, and active workspaces. There’s an abundance of research to support these changes, and as a result, we’re going to see more organisations going above and beyond to improve the work environment.”

8. The data game

Partha Sen, CEO and co-founder at Fuzzy Logix believes “next year will bring about another deluge of data brought on by advancements in the way we capture it. As more hardware and software is instrumented especially for this purpose, such as IoT devices, it will become easier and cheaper to capture data. Organisations will continue to feed on the increased data volume while the big data industry struggles through a shortage of data scientists and the boundaries imposed by non-scalable legacy software that can’t perform analytics at a granular level on big data. Healthcare will especially be hard hit in this regard.”

“Sources of huge healthcare data sets are becoming more abundant, ranging from macro-level sources like surveys by the World Health Organisation, to micro-level sources like next-generation Genomics technologies. Healthcare professionals are leveraging these data to improve the quality and speed of their services. Even traditional technology companies are venturing into this field. We expect the demand for innovative technical solutions in all industries, particularly healthcare to explode in popularity next year.”

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9. Cloud and data: a match made

“More companies are already looking to the cloud as the preferred architecture for their data environment,” concludes Neil Barton, CTO at WhereScape. “2018 will be a tipping point for adoption. Cloud-first will likely become the norm and even large enterprises will fully embrace this stance. The biggest challenge for companies making this transition will be how to embrace the period during which they have data both on-premises and in the cloud. We’re already working with companies to develop and operate automated and efficient hybrid data environments and expect to see this number increase dramatically in the next year.”

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is the editor for Information Age. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and cyber security.