Predictions for 2022- by Neil Thurston
We are awash with predictions for 2022 from analysts, vendors and the channel. Some of these reflect the global market situation, some reflect new technologies looking to be adopted and some simply leave you scratching your head.
Not to be outdone, I’ve also created a list of 5 predictions for 2022. It’s deliberately short but reflects discussions with customers around key challenges, as well as newer technologies on the mainstream horizon.
This could easily have been a top 10 list but whittling that down to 5 focuses the mind on what will have the most significant impact and resonate with the widest audience. So here goes…
- Hybrid Workforce
This one’s not much of a prediction, it’s happening. This is more a recognition that this will be high on the agenda for most organisations in 2022.
For the last 2 years we have been able to work from home, without losing any ability to get the job done. It’s OK but it has flaws, such as not being able to instantly scale up or down that capability to reflect immediate changes in working practices and not offering the best of user experiences.
At the same time attitudes of the workforce have changed after 2 years of working from home – I’m sure you’ve all seen articles on The Great Resignation and how people are choosing to work for organisation’s that accommodate more flexible work-life balances.
So the Hybrid Workforce in 2022 will demand that organisations re-think how they enable their employees to be productive and creative with a flexible work-life balance, in order for them to both retain and attract talent. Enabling this workforce transformation demands a migration from the traditional Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) approach to a more flexible cloud-based Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) as the means of delivering digital working to any user on any device at any location at any time of day with the capacity to instantly scale the service up or down.
- Zero Trust Everywhere
Following on from the Hybrid Workforce is the need to secure everything and validate the identity of users accessing corporate resources, regardless of whether they are connecting externally or internally.
Zero Trust is an approach that treats all users and devices as if they are hostile and forces them to validate their identity before they are given access to services and resources. As we transform to the future of hybrid work and give users far more flexibility and freedom on when and where they can access services from, it’s absolutely imperative that we adopt a Zero Trust approach to make sure that we don’t accidently open up access to bad actors.
Zero Trust is a multi-faceted architecture that validates users and the devices they use to connect to corporate services and resources, plus the permissions they have once validated – it is more than just deploying multi-factor authentication, for example.
In 2022 we will see end-to-end Zero Trust environments deployed that frequently challenge users and devices, regardless of whether they are local or remote, and are fully integrated into SIEM platforms to trigger actions when bad actors or behaviours are detected.
- Ransomware-Proof Infrastructure
One of this year’s hottest security topics has been ransomware - for all the wrong reasons - as the number of attacks is on the increase, as is the number of victims succumbing to those attacks.
We know that with security it’s all about creating layers, like an onion. The way to protect yourself against ransomware is no different and those layers start with the infrastructure. Infrastructure components are far more sophisticated than they’ve ever been and are pre-dominantly software-defined, meaning that they can be orchestrated in response to an event.
For the past few years we’ve seen organisations look to the market for a single solution that offers ransomware protection and there are many good solutions that can identify a potential ransomware attack. The next progression in these solutions is to automate a response to a detected potential attack, involving orchestrating blocking capabilities through the layers of the infrastructure ‘onion’.
In 2022 expect to see more infrastructure components offering automated ransomware protection capabilities that can be triggered and orchestrated via integration with the new breed of ML/AI-driven detection platforms.
- Hypervisor Offloading
Now we’re moving away from the more obvious and into the realms of which emerging technology will hit the big time. For me there is massive benefit in the new technology of Smart NICs – network adapters with CPU, memory and storage – in other words, servers inside servers.
The first generation of Smart NICs had specific silicon onboard to offload network functions from the central server CPU, such as SSL. Today’s Smart NICs can offload SSL, load balancing, firewalling, etc network and network security functions.
The newer generation of Smart NICs have programmable silicon, a Data Processing Unit (DPU), which to all intents and purposes is a programmable CPU – so although the majority of use cases are still network and network security focused, they don’t have to be.
So VMware has for a few years now been exploring this capability with the likes of NVIDIA, under the guise of Project Monterey. The result is a VMware/Dell/NVIDIA rack server with the hypervisor offloaded to the Smart NIC – so the Smart NIC hosts the vSphere hypervisor, vSAN and NSX services – which is available to buy as an early release product today.
Well this gives us 2 core advantages – composability and better performance.
First of all composability. This means that with the hypervisor on the Smart NIC, the main server itself could be a VMware vSphere host or it could equally be a bare-metal server, such as a physical SQL Server or physical Linux Kubernetes host. Regardless of what workload you deploy, the control planes will be vSphere for compute, vSAN for storage and NSX for networking – giving you complete flexibility with vastly simplified centralised management and automation.
Second is performance. With the core software-defined compute, storage and network services offloaded from the central processor, it’s no great surprise to learn that whatever type of workload you decide to run it will have improved performance. For larger environments this can also lead to a reduced footprint, as less hardware is required to deliver the same performance levels.
Although this technology is in early release product form today, I think that we’ll see interest ramp up when it becomes generally available in 2022. It will be a viable option to consider when refreshing a mixed physical and virtualised data centre or when refreshing a virtualised data centre looking for a bit more performance.
- Sustainable IT
Sustainability is rising quickly up any organisation’s agenda, peaked by the publicity of the recent COP26 conference and being a big part of an organisation’s environment, social and corporate governance (ESG) score. Sustainable IT isn’t a technology discussion; it’s about reducing the impact of IT on the environment. There are many ways that IT can become more sustainable, from the equipment you choose, to the environment it runs in and how it is disposed of at the end of its life.
In 2022 we expect more organisations to ask more questions about the equipment they are purchasing – whether that’s physical equipment or even cloud services. Many equipment manufacturers are now remanufacturing components – the fancy way of saying recycling and repurposing into new hardware. Cloud services now publish their net carbon-neutral agendas, some will even be taking more CO2 out of the environment than their data centres emit. Finally, nearly all hardware vendors have some form of service to responsibly dispose of equipment if it can’t be recycled. These all contribute to sustainable IT.
The granular visibility of sustainable IT will also expand in 2022. With pervasive technologies, like observability, able to measure the carbon output of devices with a granularity potentially all the way down to individual workloads. If you can see which workloads emit most carbon then you can start making decisions on rehosting or replatforming those to more sustainable platforms or architectures, to reduce your carbon footprint towards your corporate goals.
Those are my 5 predictions for 2022, hopefully some of them will resonate with you and time will tell how accurate they were. If any of the above has sparked an interest then please get in contact with us at Logicalis and we’ll be happy to take you through how we can help in these areas across the next 12 months.