The network management firm’s CIO tries to help companies prepare for the upcoming revolutions in IT.
Ipswitch CIO Azmi Jafarey has seen the future of IT, and it’s getting bigger and bigger.
Recent Intel research suggests that by 2015 the number of internet users will grow by 55% to 3bn, who’ll be connecting via 15bn devices with the increasing relevance of the Internet of things.
By 2020 the connected device market will have a higher dollar valuation than the American economy, reckons Jafarey.
The tech expert has been working with the network management solutions firm for the past eight years and says the trends of cloud, mobility, social and big data are still not fully understood, nor their potential anywhere near being mined so far.
He also sees these four ‘revolutions’ of the information age converging on one thing – the user. That’s right, the customer will soon have all the power, and the best companies will be the ones which recognise that.
"Many companies have still not virtualised to the extent they want to," says Jafarey. So cloud has plenty of room to grow. But what the CIO questions is how that growth will occur.
Cloud computing has become a mainstream solution deployed by firms across the globe, according to the CIF (Cloud Industry Forum), which reports that 68% of businesses which have already invested in the cloud are planning to add to it in the next year, while the UK market is growing 15% a year.
Jafarey says: "The problem is a lot of firms still view the cloud in isolation. Of all these trends, it’s the least understood. Even companies like Salesforce.com, which is growing in leaps and bounds, that many companies use, it’s still being viewed as a CRM product."
This leads many firms to take a black and white view of the platform, rather than considering the most beneficial option according to Jafaray; a hybrid model.
"Value comes from a hub and spoke model where the spokes are integration and on-premise systems and the hub is cloud," he explains. "The integration is the important thing, for the cloud to go to the next level."
"Mobility really is the revolution to talk about," says Jafarey enthusiastically, who says it has "huge promise" for IT. But for companies it brings with it a huge number of questions.
Chief among them for IT workers is "do I develop for mobile devices, and if so do I pick HTML 5 or do I get greater capabilities within an OS?"
At the other end of the spectrum is an issue businesses will be faced with, which is how mobile should their applications and information be between platforms?
Some companies will only want certain employees able to access certain data, but with BYOD identifying all the devices connecting to your Wi-Fi and finding out what they’re looking at becomes a bigger problem – especially when most non-trivial devices have some level of internet connectivity, as per the Internet of things.
"On the mobile front for WhatsUp Gold (Ipswitch’s network management solution), Wi-Fi allows you to manage these devices at the infrastructure level and you have a handle on these devices and their behavior and usage," explains the CIO.
Social and big data
That problem of mobility leads Jafarey to talk about the trend of social, and how companies can capitalise on this growing market.
"The overall area of social networking and how for a B2B environment it can be used there’s much that remains to happen," he believes. "Part of it is simply the ability to analyse the large amounts of data generated by social networks."
And big data is the biggest trend of the four, he adds, going so far as to call it a "paradigm shift".
"The whole idea that you will not just look a few but all the data you have is an extremely important concept," Jafarey says.
"For WhatsUp Gold as we go towards more connected devices, things like analyses of big data, the more data you’re collecting, the more this desire to look at everything there before you draw connections will increase.
"In the past in pre-big data, you were looking for causality to get you to understand what’s happened. Whereas now there’s just much more information to draw on and work with."
Jafarey sees all these trends converging on one thing – the user, the one who has to be able to make sense of all these different trends and use them but who may not possess a high level of tech expertise.
"If you treat the IT of your business as a commodity that’s what you’ll get," he points out. "If you treat IT as the competitive edge of your business then you have a great provider. This is the way we view IT at Ipswitch."