10 tech topics IT leaders should stay on top of
What should business and IT executives be focusing on in the months ahead? These 10 critical areas are high on the list.
At the Interop conference in Las Vegas a few weeks ago, I noticed some strong trends in the topics covered. As a matter of fact, most of the topics fit into a dozen or so categories. Here are 10 hot topics that are clearly on the minds of business and IT leaders.
1: Software-defined networking
Software-defined networking (SDN) was, by far, the biggest topic discussed at Interop this year. It seemed like a full 25% of the sessions were focused around this topic. SDN is a set of management tools that enables you to virtualize your network infrastructure to a point where the individual switches and routers don't matter. It is, effectively, a layer on top of the existing physical equipment that becomes the physical layer that the servers see.
However, there was some disagreement over exactly how this should and does work. During the SDN Keynote Panel, for instance, the panelists argued over even the definition of software-defined networking: Is it just the virtualization of hardware or is it the next level — the ability to rapidly scale and change the architecture using automated tools? As this is a new topic (VMware coined the term in a whitepaper just last year), I expect that better information and resources will be forthcoming.
2: Software-defined data centers
Along with software-defined networking, a host of other "software-defined" terms were mentioned, including software-defined data centers (SDDC). This topic was even more vague than SDN (in terms of an actual definition), but the focus was on using SDN along with existing hypervisors and other technologies to evolve traditional data centers into private cloud architectures.
The cloud has been a topic for a number of years all around the IT blogosphere, so it should not come as a shock that it was a topic of focus at Interop. From private clouds to public clouds, several sessions highlighted the benefits and advantages as well as problems and drawbacks. However, most of the information was nothing new - just presented in a slightly different way and/or different setting.
Software-as-a-service is another topic that has been around and has begun its "rehashing" phase. Like the cloud, SaaS was heavily discussed (along with its cousins, platform-as-a-service and infrastructure-as-a-service) at this year's Interop, but there was almost no new information. Most of it centered on how various vendors have changed their SaaS software in the last year or so or how they plan to in the next year.
With the recent adoption of 802.11ac, mobility was definitely a hot topic at Interop. There were sessions covering wireless networking theory all the way through implementing a Phase 1 802.11ac wireless network. Phase 1 is basically an enhanced Wireless-N spec — faster speeds, etc. Phase 2, coming in about a year, will include most of the new 11ac features, like beamforming and multi-user MIMO. Managing your wireless infrastructure, developing tools to monitor it, and allowing for growth were also key areas.