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Four Trends Are Shaping the Future of Cloud, Data Center and Edge Infrastructure

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Gartner has highlighted four trends impacting cloud, data center and edge infrastructure in 2023, as infrastructure and operations (I&O) teams pivot to support new technologies and ways of working during a year of economic uncertainty.

Speaking at the Gartner IT Infrastructure, Operations & Cloud Strategies Conference in Sydney, Paul Delory, VP Analyst at Gartner said, “In the current economic climate, the biggest problem companies face in 2023 may not be IT infrastructure. I&O teams, however, will be impacted by economic and geopolitical forces and will have a vital role to play in ameliorating their effects.

“This won’t be a year to realize grand ambitions, but it marks a moment to refocus, retool and rethink your infrastructure. In every crisis lies opportunity, and in this case, the chance to make positive changes that may be long overdue.”

According to Gartner, the top four cloud, data center and edge infrastructure trends include:

Trend 1: Cloud Teams Will Optimize and Refactor Cloud Infrastructure
Public cloud usage is almost universal, but many deployments are ad hoc and poorly implemented. I&O teams have an opportunity this year to revisit hastily assembled or poorly architected cloud infrastructure to make it more efficient, resilient and cost-effective.

The focus of refactoring cloud infrastructure should be on optimizing costs by eliminating redundant, overbuilt or unused cloud infrastructure; building business resilience rather than service-level redundancy; using cloud infrastructure as a way to mitigate supply chain disruptions; and modernizing infrastructure. According to Gartner, 65% of application workloads will be optimal or ready for cloud delivery by 2027, up from 45% in 2022.

Trend 2: New Application Architectures Will Demand New Kinds of Infrastructure
I&O teams are continually challenged to meet new and growing demands with new types of infrastructure — including edge infrastructure for data-intensive use cases, non-x86 architectures for specialized workloads, serverless edge architectures, and 5G mobile service. Gartner predicts 15% of on-premises production workloads will run in containers by 2026, up from less than 5% in 2022.

I&O professionals must evaluate alternative options with care, focusing on their ability to manage, integrate and transform in the face of constraints on time, talent and resources. “Don’t revert to traditional methods or solutions just because they’ve worked well in the past,” said Delory. “Challenging periods are times to innovate and find new solutions to meet business demands.”

Trend 3: Data Center Teams Will Adopt Cloud Principles On-Premises
Data centers are shrinking and migrating to platform-based colocation providers. Combined with new as-a-service models for physical infrastructure, this can bring cloud-like service-centricity and economic models to on-premises infrastructure.

According to Gartner, 35% of data center infrastructure will be managed from a cloud-based control plane by 2027, from less than 10% in 2022. I&O professionals should focus this year on building cloud-native infrastructure within the data center; migrating workloads from owned facilities to co-location facilities or the edge; or embracing as-a-service models for physical infrastructure.

Trend 4: Successful Organizations Will Make Skills Growth Their Highest Priority
Lack of skills remains the biggest barrier to infrastructure modernization initiatives, with many organizations finding they cannot hire outside talent to fill these skills gaps. IT organizations will not succeed unless they prioritize organic skills growth.

I&O leaders must make operations skills growth their highest priority this year. Encourage I&O professionals to take on new roles as site reliability engineers or subject matter expert consultants for developer teams and business units. Gartner predicts 60% of data center infrastructure teams will have relevant automation and cloud skills by 2027, up from 30% in 2022.