January 2012 EMA Analyst Corner

Analyst Corner

Steve Brasen, Research Director, EMAJanuary 2012 EMA Analyst's Corner:
Blurring the Lines across Traditional Boundaries: Top IT & Data Management Trends of 2012

At the beginning of this month, EMA analysts were asked for their predictions about what 2012 might bring. Responses spanned management solutions across applications, systems, network, security, services, assets, desktops, and mobile devices, as well as business intelligence and content management. The results were surprisingly cohesive, and as a whole reflected core requirements in analytics, cloud, mobile, information sharing, and cultural transformations across IT. If there were one single takeaway, it might be that 2012 will continue to accelerate the trend to blur the lines across traditional IT (and business) silos, spurred in part by the requirements of cloud computing and the need for increased business relevance.

In this Analyst's Corner I've attempted to summarize these predictions as a single, narrative flow—starting with single area of greatest overall attention—analytics.


  • Big Data: Business intelligence is scaling out beyond its traditional boundaries to "every corner of the enterprise"—from point of sale terminals to HR to, of course, IT. The role of data warehousing for IT, or "big data," is emerging as a core focus for both vendors and IT adopters seeking more effective ways to apply mature data warehousing techniques to thebusiness of IT. One of the more interesting, emerging areas is social data analytics—both for IT and beyond IT—as businesses seek to apply techniques such as sentiment analysis, geo-location, behavioral, social graph, and rich media social data to better understand everything from customer likes and dislikes and more effective risk management, to leveraging social media within IT as a foundation for problem resolution and requirements definitions.
  • Advanced Threat Intelligence: As targeted threats continue to flourish and increase in sophistication, the requirements for better information gathering and data-driven security are self evident. These requirements go far beyond looking at isolated denial of service or virus issues to broader situational analysis. This is another application of big data, but one which may also run into privacy issues as advanced threat intelligence expands its reach.
  • Advanced Performance-to-Business Management Analytics: Parallel but fundamentally distinct advances in analytics as applied to service, application and infrastructure performance management are also becoming significant game changers in 2012. With new solutions from both platforms and smaller suite providers automating insights into cross-domain performance interdependencies—across what sometimes become hundreds of different sources (or many hundreds of thousands depending on how it's measured) the chances for IT to break through the insoluble areas of triage is more promising than ever. Given the many multiple advances in this area (and multiple analyst predictions in this space), it's worth noting a few distinct areas within this broader direction:
    • User Experience Management (UEM) has come into its own and cloud has helped it along as an ultimate point of IT governance. Along with application performance insights, UEM may also explore business process and business behavior impacts, as well as shed light on how customers actually use IT services—perhaps the biggest single gap in running IT as a business.
    • Executive Dashboards will thrive atop these advancing trends, and some will also have roots in data warehousing.
    • Application Discovery and Dependency Mapping and the modeling it can deliver in connection with CMDB/CMS reconciliation—opens the door to a more contextual way of harvesting many different analytic tools.
    • Melds: Capacity planning, performance, and business impact are all beginning to intersect in analytic "melds" across domains with both real-time and historical/trending values.
    • Network: Applications and services all come together over the network—and network management will continue to drive forward with "application-aware" solutions with more powerful capabilities for leveraging application flows for performance, capacity, and even governance and compliance requirements. Along with this, EMA predicts the rise of next generation network management platforms, optimized to support virtualized infrastructures, more rapid deployment, and the consolidation of roles that EMA has documented with the advent of cloud computing.
    • Predictive Analytics in Support of Automation: While automation deserves its own heading, the relation between predictive analytics and automation technologies —from Workload Automation (WLA) to IT process automation (or run book)—will continue to transform the automation landscape. Another, and not unrelated transformative factor will continue to be service modeling from the CMDB/CMS as modeled interdependencies and the policies around them will begin to advance in defining automation routines and associating them with larger processes.

Information Sharing
Analyzing information means nothing if it's not effectively shared. There were a number of analyst contributions to this trend. One was a direct link—collaborative business intelligence—enabling "the wisdom of the crowds" to come forward in collaborative decision making. Unified Information Management will be key as Enterprise Content Management (ECM) products are leveraged more extensively across different constituencies in corporations. There will also be pressures for improved cost efficiencies in ECM, or "lower cost to insight," given big data and open source frameworks such as Hadoop and Lucene. This will be coupled with increased pressures to innovate, acquire technology, and expand to support unique vertical requirements in industries such as finance, healthcare and retail.

As seen in the analytics section, cloud computing has played a large role as a catalyst in advancing more effective solutions for dynamic insights across domains—from application performance management to optimizing the virtualized infrastructure. This includes many permutations—from network to systems and from systems to storage. EMA believes that virtualization-aware storage should become a target of innovation as vendors seek to eliminate storage as the "virtualization bottle neck." Endpoint virtualization will continue to be another key growth area as the management focus shifts to more service-oriented platforms. Cloud is also offering new opportunities for flexibility and scalability in terms of on-demand compute power for delivering everything from business intelligence solutions to advanced business service management capabilities. And, finally, cloud is finally beginning to deliver meaningfully to the promise of infrastructure-on-demand and application-on-demand, presenting process and cultural challenges for IT.

Workforce mobility is no longer about just working at home, as smartphone and tablet form factors are forcing IT to adjust to a whole new array of pressures in everything from asset management and performance and configuration management to, inevitably, security. Even BI access is going mobile—opening up networking and bandwidth issues, as well as new options for access and role-related variability. Finally, mobility and the "consumerization of IT" will require new process and compliance guidelines, as well as ongoing technology innovation.

The Cultural Transformation of IT
Virtually none of these areas are purely technical in nature. All of them, in fact, will depend in various degrees on cultural and process changes as well. One area singled out was Lean IT—with a continual growth in emphasis on measuring IT performance more meaningfully and realistically with the objective of continual improvement. The rising attention to unified demand management will require both a technology and a cultural or process focus if it is to be successful. The potentially explosive shift from the CMDB to a truly federated, model-centric Configuration Management System (CMS) will be similarly a blend of cultural, process and technological transformation if it is to eventually succeed. Will all this occur in 2012? It's admittedly a lot to ask for but, of course, many of these trends will play out over several and, in some cases, many years. As for your skeptics—well then, it's still only January!

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