5 Top IT Trends to Watch in 2016


You don’t even have to be in tech to notice that IT is changing fast. From the implementation of more efficient and secure systems to shifting power dynamics in the workplace, IT is poised for major transformation in 2016. Here is our list of 5 IT trends to keep an eye on.

1. Hybrid IT will endure, and so will its complexity 

Although some small companies and startups can take advantage of cloud-only environments, the reality is that hybrid IT deployments will continue to be the norm moving forward for medium-to-large enterprises.

According to Riverbed CIO Rich Hillebrecht, while using the term ‘hybrid’ to describe any technology usually means something that is temporary and marked by phased adoption, in this context, ‘hybrid’ has much more staying power. ‘In fact, the increasing adoption of cloud computing is actually driving a parallel increase in the implementation [of the] hybrid enterprise model,’ he notes. 

This is a good thing if your only priority is having the kind of scalability, flexibility, and agility that aren’t easy to achieve with on-premises assets alone. On the other hand, a hybrid enterprise is complex to manage, and challenges like shadow IT, limited bandwidth, and slow SaaS application performance – among many others – give IT leaders constant fits.

The complexity inherent in a hybrid environment necessitates a new, end-to-end way of looking at the overall IT landscape. Companies like Riverbed are at the forefront of this new trend, developing optimization products like Riverbed® SteelHead™ to help untangle all the moving parts so enterprises can deliver on the promise of the hybrid era.

2. Leaders will demand adaptive security architectures

Security has been a long-standing concern for everyone in IT, and it will obviously continue to be one in 2016. However, the focus on network security is about to shift from prevention to monitoring.

Adaptive Security Architecture sits at number 7 on Gartner’s top 10 Strategic IT Trends for 2016, but we predict it will edge up even more in the coming year. Why? The traditional way of securing networks just isn’t working anymore. Multiple studies suggest that when administrators focus solely on blocking threats, it can end up taking months to detect a network intrusion that managed to get through the perimeter—as many cybercriminals, increasingly, manage to do.  

According to Gartner, ‘Relying on perimeter defense and rule-based security is inadequate, especially as organizations exploit more cloud-based services and open APIs for customers and partners to integrate with their systems. IT leaders must focus on detecting and responding to threats, as well as more traditional blocking and other measures to prevent attacks.’ That’s why ensuring greater network visibility should be on every IT leader’s to-do list in 2016.


3. The hyper-converged edge ends data storage at remote locations 

When you lose data, you lose business. Regardless of what mix of cloud services you’re using, backing up data is still a necessity, especially at branch or remote sites (where 50%+ of corporate data still resides). 

So how do CIOs reduce the risk of data loss at the branch? ‘Both remote-access and WAN optimization technologies are most appropriate when data will reside in a central location, with remote offices accessing the data over a WAN,’ says Evaluator Group analyst Russ Fellows. ‘In this scenario, protecting data at local branch offices is not necessary, since all data resides at a remote or central location.’

A hyper-converged edge infrastructure provides a safer, easier, and more effective way to back up data. Moreover, it allows IT to instantly provision and deploy new services at these sites, so IT doesn’t fall behind the pace of business. Lastly, even if a disaster or outage were to occur at a branch, recovery windows are just seconds long, not hours or days.

Branch IT is poised for transformation, and Riverbed has been leading the charge with Riverbed® SteelFusion™. So in 2016, expect to see the adoption of much more agile, cost-effective, and secure ways of managing data and infrastructure in remote locations.

4. SD-WAN will give IT even more control and efficiency at the edge

Branches and other remote locations aren’t just known for their risky security profiles. As Riverbed CTO Hansang Bae noted in his Gartner Symposium/ITxpo recap, they’re also known for a lack of investment, resources, and attention in general, usually playing second fiddle to the data center, which always receives the latest and greatest technologies.

But SD-WAN is changing all that, offering the ability to automate and simplify many aspects of network configuration and management across the hundreds or thousands of remote sites that make up a large enterprise. This prospect is appealing to IT leaders not only from a business agility and cost reduction standpoint, but also from a performance and control perspective. Now, network teams will have an easier time managing finite network resources like bandwidth, while ensuring application SLAs are maintained, by steering applications and other services over the optimal network path.

The SDN technology market is forecasted to generate $1.4 billion this year. One of the reasons is the trend toward wider adoption of SD-WAN solutions, which is sure to continue in 2016 and beyond.

Related: Exploring Riverbed SD-WAN and Unleashing Project Tiger with Packet Pushers

5. IT continues to solidify its place as a value center, not a cost center

CIOs are continuing to re-examine how they generate and articulate value to their business peers, and they’re starting to make real progress in shifting the perceptions within organizations about IT. The trends outlined above will give IT leaders greater flexibility and agility when meeting dynamic business requirements, positioning them at the center of the corporate decision-making nexus.

The makeup of the C-Suite itself is also changing, further strengthening IT’s hand when it comes to perceived value. In addition to the respected role of CIO, a new related and parallel role is emerging: the CDO, or Chief Digital Officer.

‘The Chief Digital Officer role is new and relatively undefined, coming about under very different circumstances than other C-level positions like the CIO and the CMO,’ says Dr. Pierre Peladeau, the author of a new study from PwC France . ‘The CDO’s job requires nothing less than steering the company through an era of mass disruption in every aspect of its external relationships and internal operations.’

IT teams of the future will act more like a product team that helps develop the new tools stakeholders need. Watch for the further evolution of this trend in the coming year.

We are seeing a tectonic shift in technology, driven by advances that are changing the very foundations of our society and the inner workings of our corporate structures—and it’s all centered around IT. Everyone from IT managers to office managers should take note: there are big changes ahead in 2016. 

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