Regardless of how much systems inside data centers converge, the way they are managed will never be the same again. As a result, most IT service providers need to rethink how their IT infrastructure services are organized as we head into 2016.
A new report from Technology Business Research forecasts that the size of the converged systems market will grow from $11 billion in 2014 to $21 billion in 2019, representing a 15 percent compound annual growth rate.
That doesn’t mean traditional IT systems will disappear overnight. But it does mean that IT organizations are moving to a model where the management of compute, storage, and networking is increasingly unified.
Increasing degrees of convergence
Of course, there are multiple degrees of convergence. Initially, a converged system meant little more than a platform where compute, storage, and networking were tightly integrated. Hyperconverged systems take that concept to the next level by creating modular systems designed to scale out by adding modules. As far as applications are concerned, hyperconverged systems all appear to be one set of logical resources. Now vendors such as Oracle are trying to take that concept one step further using “engineered systems” that are optimized for specific databases and middleware.
IT organizations are starting to adopt converged platforms because they lower operational costs considerably in certain application scenarios. The challenge is that compute, storage, and networking don’t always scale neatly in tandem with one another, so in many cases IT organizations still prefer traditional rack infrastructure. In either case, however, there is a general shift toward unifying the management of compute, storage, and networking.
Push to diversify
For IT service providers, that translates into new customer requirements and potentially higher costs. There’s clearly an opportunity to deliver a unified set of managed services around different forms of converged systems. But, IT services providers will still need to have dedicated server, storage, and networking resources on hand.
What will be different is the level of skill required to fulfill those obligations. With more functions being managed at higher levels of abstraction, less expertise is required to address most of the management issues that come up over time.
With this shift toward convergence, though, more collaboration than ever will be required across server, storage, and networking specializations. In fact, IT service providers might need to require that personnel be certified in all three disciplines. There will still be a need for a handful of IT services professionals that can go deep on any one of those topics, but the days when IT services staff could focus on networking, for example, and ignore everything else are coming to a close.
Of course, that will make it more expensive to train and certify an IT services staff that focuses on IT infrastructure. But it’s also clear that anything less than having a staff with expertise in multiple infrastructure disciplines will no longer be an option.