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Key Trends in Hybrid Cloud and Infrastructure for 2024

A Deep Dive into the Future

Key Trends in Hybrid Cloud and Infrastructure for 2024

As we bid farewell to 2023, a year that brought remarkable progress in the realm of IT, it is crucial to look forward to the emerging trends that will shape the IT landscape in 2024. This blog post delves into the six key trends poised to redefine how businesses leverage technology.

The advent of generative AI in 2024 has profoundly reshaped the technology landscape, leading to significant transformations in consumer technology and the wider business realm. In consumer technology, generative AI has revolutionized user experiences, enabling highly personalized content creation and interactive entertainment while transforming mundane tasks through intelligent automation. On the business front, it has become a cornerstone for innovation, driving efficiency in processes like data analysis, content generation, and decision-making, thus reshaping industries from marketing to software development with its adaptive and predictive capabilities.

As we approach 2024 and sharpen our focus on the plumbing of IT, the hybrid cloud and infrastructure market is poised to undergo significant transformation. Driven by the rapid evolution of technology and changing enterprise demands, this sector is expected to be shaped by several key trends. From all of my discussions and numerous events this year, these are the key trends shaping the industry in 2024 and the key vendors in each area.

1. Platform Engineering Maturity: The Rise of Platform-Centric IT

One of the most prominent trends is the maturity of platform engineering. Moving away from traditional IT operations, this approach emphasizes a platform-centric model. Platform engineering involves the creation and management of a self-service internal platform that equips teams with the necessary tools and capabilities for efficient application development, deployment, and management. This shift toward a more agile and DevOps-centric workflow enables organizations to streamline operations, cut costs, and boost productivity.

Key Vendors to Watch

Pioneers in open source solutions, contributing to a more integrated and flexible platform ecosystem, include Red Hat and IBM. Another critical vendor to watch is HashiCorp, which is known for its infrastructure as code products, facilitating efficient platform management. Finally, 2024 will be a big year for VMware (now part of Broadcom), a significant player in virtualization and cloud infrastructure that offers comprehensive platform solutions; everyone will be watching how the acquisition plays out.

2. AI-Optimized Infrastructure: Catering to Evolving AI and ML Workloads

The integration of AI into hybrid cloud infrastructure is rapidly gaining momentum. The need for AI-optimized infrastructure becomes crucial as AI and machine learning (ML) workloads become increasingly common. In 2024, I anticipate a greater focus on AI-optimized hardware and software. This includes the development of specialized processors, AI-specific networking enhancements, and storage solutions designed to accelerate AI workloads.

Generative AI has emerged as a cornerstone of innovation, demonstrating remarkable growth over the past year. With enterprise spending on generative AI projected to top $150 billion by consensus estimates within the next couple of years, it is clear that this technology will be a major driver of business growth. As companies integrate AI into their core IT initiatives, they face balancing innovation with critical issues such as privacy, intellectual property (IP) protection, and cost efficiency. The key for businesses is to harness the power of AI while navigating these complexities.

Key Vendors to Watch

Unsurprisingly, the likes of NVIDIA, Intel, and AMD are leading in developing specialized processors for AI tasks. We also have the likes of AWS, Microsoft, and GCP, all cloud giants offering AI-optimized cloud services and infrastructure through their in-house developed silicon. The industry stalwarts such as Lenovo, Dell, and HPE are going nowhere in 2024 and will continue to provide the hardware solutions crucial for supporting AI workloads.

3. Embracing Smart Cloud Strategies and Digital Agility

The shift toward digital agility is transforming workplace dynamics. Companies are investing in technologies that boost productivity and efficiency. However, it is not just about technology; it is about creating an inclusive and empathetic corporate culture. Smart cloud strategies play a pivotal role here, enabling businesses to optimize their IT infrastructure for greater flexibility and resilience. As cloud technologies evolve, the emphasis is on strategic management of cloud environments, which includes bridging skills gaps and preparing for the integration of advanced technologies such as generative AI.

Key Vendors to Watch

VMware, Red Hat, and SUSE are at the forefront of empowering businesses to transition to the cloud, offering solutions that streamline and simplify cloud migration and management. Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google, and Microsoft, through their robust cloud platforms—AWS, Google Cloud, and Azure, respectively—enable a cultural shift toward digital agility, providing scalable infrastructure and innovative services that drive business transformation. These vendors collectively facilitate a seamless transition to the cloud, offering tools and platforms that support clients’ diverse needs, from enhancing operational efficiency to fostering innovation and agility in a rapidly evolving digital landscape.

4. The Evolution of Data Governance and Management

Data governance has become critical for successfully adopting and implementing AI technologies. It is analogous to laying down robust tracks for a high-speed train—without a solid foundation, the journey is fraught with risks. A comprehensive and strategic approach to data management ensures that AI-driven systems deliver real business value. This trend underscores the need for businesses to adopt a disciplined approach to data governance, ensuring accuracy, security, and accessibility of data to leverage AI effectively.

Key Vendors To Watch

MongoDB, Cloudera, and Teradata are pioneering in providing robust data management and analytics tools, essential for curating and preparing data for clients’ AI journeys, ensuring high-quality, accessible, and actionable data insights. OpenText and Elastic contribute significantly by offering advanced data processing and search capabilities, enabling clients to organize and analyze large datasets efficiently, a crucial step in AI and ML projects. These vendors offer a comprehensive suite of tools that streamline the data preparation process, ensuring that businesses can leverage their data effectively for AI-driven decision-making and innovation.

5. The Continued Relevance of Mainframe in a Hybrid Environment

Contrary to predictions of a wholesale shift to the cloud, the mainframe remains a vital component in the hybrid IT environment. The mainframe’s ability to handle large volumes of transactions and data makes it indispensable, especially for industries where failure is not an option. The challenge for businesses is to effectively integrate mainframe systems with modern cloud architectures, creating a seamless and efficient hybrid environment that leverages the strengths of both worlds.

Key Vendors to Watch

IBM, BMC, Broadcom, and Rocket Software are leading the charge in mainframe modernization, offering advanced solutions that enhance these critical systems’ security and operational effectiveness. These vendors provide sophisticated tools and services that enable clients to seamlessly integrate modern technologies with their existing mainframe infrastructure, ensuring a balance between innovation and reliability. Their focus on enhancing security protocols, improving system efficiency, and facilitating easier management of mainframe environments empowers clients to revitalize their legacy systems for the demands of the contemporary digital landscape.

6. Focus on Cybersecurity and Sustainable Technology

With the proliferation of AI-driven devices, cybersecurity has become more crucial than ever. The modern IT infrastructure must be robust and secure, supporting real-time decision-making and safeguarding confidential data. Additionally, sustainable technology is gaining prominence. Companies realize their environmental responsibilities resonate strongly with consumers, employees, and investors. This trend is about aligning business practices with sustainability goals, creating a greener and more responsible corporate ethos.

Key Vendors to Watch

CrowdStrike and Palo Alto Networks are at the forefront of addressing the increasingly dynamic threat landscape, providing clients with advanced cybersecurity solutions that include real-time threat detection, AI-driven analytics, and comprehensive incident response capabilities. Cohesity, CommVault, and Rubrik are revolutionizing data backup with robust, cloud-centric approaches, offering scalable, secure, and efficient data protection solutions that seamlessly integrate with modern cloud environments. Their innovative platforms enable clients to effectively manage and safeguard their critical data assets against evolving risks, ensuring business continuity and resilience in the face of cyber threats.

Looking Ahead

As we embark on 2024, a year that marks the 60th anniversary of the mainframe in April, the IT landscape is witnessing pivotal transformations. This year is set to emphasize the strategic adoption of technology, where businesses must evolve and adapt, striking a balance between innovation, practicality, and responsibility. The key trends shaping this landscape encompass the integration of generative AI into business operations, smart cloud strategies, robust data governance, the enduring significance of mainframe systems, and an increased focus on cybersecurity and sustainability.

These trends represent a holistic shift in the business world’s perception and utilization of technology. It is a movement toward a future where technology is not just a tool but a catalyst for efficiency, growth, and positive societal impact. For businesses, success in this evolving landscape hinges on making informed technological choices that align with their goals and values, akin to selecting the appropriate mode of transportation for a journey.

In 2024, the hybrid cloud and infrastructure market is poised for a significant transformation, driven by key vendors such as IBM, Red Hat, NVIDIA, and Cisco. These industry leaders are not just participating in the change. They are actively driving it with their innovative solutions, paving the way for a more agile and AI-driven IT environment. The year also focuses on integrating AI for strategic insights and decision-making, with companies such as AMD and Intel leading the charge.

Enhanced security and compliance measures are becoming increasingly important in the complex and risky digital landscape, highlighting the role of companies such as Palo Alto and CrowdStrike in developing sophisticated cybersecurity solutions. Furthermore, the trend toward sustainability-driven infrastructure, championed by Lenovo and HPE, reflects a societal shift toward environmental responsibility.

In conclusion, 2024 is a year brimming with opportunities for businesses to leverage technology innovatively. By staying informed and adaptable, companies can harness these trends to drive growth, enhance efficiency, and positively impact society and the environment. The future of IT is about thoughtfully and strategically integrating new technologies to create a more sustainable, secure, and inclusive world.

Disclosure: The Futurum Group is a research and advisory firm that engages or has engaged in research, analysis, and advisory services with many technology companies, including those mentioned in this article. The author does not hold any equity positions with any company mentioned in this article.

Analysis and opinions expressed herein are specific to the analyst individually and data and other information that might have been provided for validation, not those of The Futurum Group as a whole.

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Author Information

Regarded as a luminary at the intersection of technology and business transformation, Steven Dickens is the Vice President and Practice Leader for Hybrid Cloud, Infrastructure, and Operations at The Futurum Group. With a distinguished track record as a Forbes contributor and a ranking among the Top 10 Analysts by ARInsights, Steven's unique vantage point enables him to chart the nexus between emergent technologies and disruptive innovation, offering unparalleled insights for global enterprises.

Steven's expertise spans a broad spectrum of technologies that drive modern enterprises. Notable among these are open source, hybrid cloud, mission-critical infrastructure, cryptocurrencies, blockchain, and FinTech innovation. His work is foundational in aligning the strategic imperatives of C-suite executives with the practical needs of end users and technology practitioners, serving as a catalyst for optimizing the return on technology investments.

Over the years, Steven has been an integral part of industry behemoths including Broadcom, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), and IBM. His exceptional ability to pioneer multi-hundred-million-dollar products and to lead global sales teams with revenues in the same echelon has consistently demonstrated his capability for high-impact leadership.

Steven serves as a thought leader in various technology consortiums. He was a founding board member and former Chairperson of the Open Mainframe Project, under the aegis of the Linux Foundation. His role as a Board Advisor continues to shape the advocacy for open source implementations of mainframe technologies.

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