Wilfried van Haeren (the man behind the Edgeworx blog) isn’t just a stupendous CTO with rich technical prowess -- he’s someone you can’t help but be fond of. The beekeeping outdoorsman seems to have boundless energy for everything he does. In fact, I remember talking to him about battling jet lag after he attended Mobile World Congress in Barcelona and he jovially replied that he goes on a long walk right away to combat the sleepiness.
In our discussions about wrapping up our 2018 content, his spirit prevailed by standing firm that we look forward to the rich possibilities that lay ahead in 2019. This “take the bull by the horn” mentality shouldn’t have surprised me.
What gave me pause was that this past year wasn’t a blip on the radar. We witnessed strong vendor commitment to software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN), Internet of Things (IoT) and 5G garnering attention, and artificial intelligence (AI) finding its place in the advancements. Maybe it was that he’s been in the IT sector since 1982, so what I perceived as big change didn’t phase him? Not the case. When we finally conducted this interview, Wilfried mentioned that this year his job became so much more fun!
After hearing the excitement in his voice, I knew his insights wouldn’t just fuel this interview, but it could supercharge our readers’ technology choices for the year ahead…
Question #1: Before we dive into 2019 -- what surprised you in 2018? What do you think will fundamentally impact the trajectory of 2019?
Answer: In 2017, we saw vendors catching on to SD-WAN, but it was surprising how much the technology along with network functions virtualization (NFV) took off in 2018. In all the years that I have been in the IT infrastructure solution space, vendors have been narrowly focused and protective of customers from competitors. This year has been different by force. The once leading incumbents have become masters of multiple spaces or have risked new generation vendors disrupting their business, which is why we have seen so many acquisitions.
What will change the trajectory of 2019 is that customers aren’t feeding into the fear, uncertainty, and doubt that vendors are seeding. By turning to consultants to sit on the same side of the table with them and weed through the noise, they can deploy solutions that support their business goals.
Question #2: If you had to make predictions on what will make or break enterprise technology in 2019, what would they be?
Answer: There has been a lot of buzz around AI -- probably too much from everybody. I’ve seen it all over the place from conferences and congresses to publications. It’s true that the awesomeness of IBM’s Watson has come much closer and is now obtainable for the masses. But while AI is valuable in delivering solutions, we must level-set that it isn’t a solution in itself.
2019 will be about how we utilize AI technology. I’d predict what will “make” enterprise technology is a stronger embedding of AI in data management platforms and monitoring solutions. This will allow us to do things with data that as a human alone, wouldn’t be possible. A few years ago, one of the biggest challenges customers faced was having smart data analysis. We’ve had all of this big data, but Tier 1 and 2 support desk analysts haven’t been able to use it to correlate alerts, identify root causes, and improve the user experience. With better utilization of AI technology, we can change data steering and at a minimum dumb down the data so that it is actionable for analysts. Even better, AI could make decisions and recommendations based on historical data.
What will break enterprise IT? If companies don’t begin to virtualize with cloud or hybrid cloud investments and would continue to build more data centers. A CIO at a global operating company said to me earlier: “Every dollar you invest in a data center today is not invested in the future.” I agree, that money can only be spent once, so it better be for the right technology.
And while we’re on the topic of data centers, companies have very limited views of their DC virtual workloads at the moment. Virtualization has made life easier to spin-up and tear-down, but leads to virtual chaos when not done properly. Companies are struggling with disentangling workloads on virtual machines in fear that it will “break the chain.” They need to find a way to create a “Google Maps” of their workloads to visualize all connections so that they can spend their money wisely.
Question #3: We’ve heard a lot about the digital transformation this year. What do you think companies need to do in 2019 to be successful in their transformation efforts?
Answer: If you want to be successful in the digital transformation, commit to two things: know your data and where it is, and put security first. Executives can’t operate in a “business first” mentality anymore. It has to be security first, with an underpinning that the same security can’t impact performance and usability. With all of the technology advancements and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), it’s imperative to take measures like UeBA, identity management, and multi-factor authentication to validate user identification.
Question #4: For IT leaders looking to change how they budget in the year ahead -- where do you think they should put their money?
Answer: When budgeting, IT leaders need to look before they leap. That means taking the time to know what you didn’t know in 2018. Start by baselining and completing assessments that uncover data leaks, improper use of bandwidth, and other hidden costs.
Question #5: What do you think is next for GDPR enforcement and how should that dictate the way we secure and manage data?
Answer: Content security is going to be very important in 2019. Given the amount of data that is available, we need to look at smart ways to secure without compromising performance.
We’re seeing a rise in mobile applications built with DevOps, but are they well written? Can applications be measured and tested under specific conditions and from specific scenarios to ensure not only performance for the user but also security of the data? Companies need to admit that they are completing these initiatives without understanding the implications of unstructured data, privacy exposure, user experience, the new security vectors through mobile computing, and the security that is required to comply with GDPR.
The new regulation is going to force businesses to admit they don’t know what they don’t know -- and do something about it. They will have to classify data, know what’s important to analyze, and distinguish the differences between data in rest and in flight.
Thanks to our readers!
2018 was a monumental year, and here at Edgeworx we couldn’t be more excited to continue the fun in 2019. Be sure to subscribe to the blog and follow us on our social channels as we check back on Wilfried’s predictions and continue to bring you our best, unbiased views of today’s technology.
From all of us here at Edgeworx Solutions, we wish you a healthy, happy, and prosperous new year!