Accenture Roadmap Points to Storage Changes

Accenture exec says eight trends will change the data center - storage and all

April 4, 2008

5 Min Read
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Every five years, Kishore Swaminathan, chief scientist at global services outfit Accenture, confers with colleagues on the key factors driving IT for the next three to five years. These are the trends the firm will use to guide product and service investments, marketing, training, and other activities.

This year's findings have a number of implications for storage managers -- and the higher up you are, the more you'll be affected.

"Broadly, the conclusions are that the role of the CIO is about to change fairly dramatically," says Swaminathan.

Figure 1: Kishore Swaminathan, Chief Scientist, Accenture

Indeed, Accenture predicts a shakeup in IT that could profoundly change the nature of jobs in and around the data center. To understand what's predicted requires a look at the eight top trends Accenture has defined. Following, in no particular order, are the factors Swaminathan says will shape IT for the next five years, along with the impact they'll have on the CIO's job and the implications for storage networking:Trend No. 1: Cloud computing. "Right now, people are excited about cloud computing in the sense of Amazon providing hardware services. People are quoted as saying there will be three big supercomputers -- one named Yahoo, one Google, one Amazon. I don't believe in that architecture." Instead, he envisions multiple "ecosystem clouds" provided by major database, enterprise application, and operating system suppliers. Oracle, for instance, may have a cloud providing database services with enterprise applications. A set of SaaS providers will live in the Oracle cloud. There will be another Microsoft ecosystem, and an IBM or SAP ecosystem. Ecosystems will share common hosting hardware, a similar service level agreement structure and security infrastructure, and integration services.

Trend No. 2: Shadow IT. The capabilities of open-source software, along with widgets and mashup solutions, are allowing corporate employees to set up applications without IT at an unprecedented rate. While there is nothing new about users adding technology under the radar, Accenture thinks it's about to take off as never before. "Shadow IT has always been endemic, but it's about to reach epidemic proportions," Swaminathan says.

Trend No. 3: Enterprise Intelligence. The ability to gather and analyze information about application activity will become even more important as time passes. "Every major software company has acquired a business intelligence or analytics company," points out Swaminathan. This is why Microsoft bought FAST Search & Transfer for $1.2 billion in January 2008, and why IBM bought Cognos, to name just two. "Analytics and business intelligence will be built into the software platforms of major vendors," he says.

Trend No. 4: Continuous user connectivity. The need to be always connected will have an impact on the way that applications are offered to corporate users, in Accenture's view. It's easier to provide continuous connectivity from a service.

Trend No. 5: Social computing. Social networks are slowly but surely becoming part of enterprise applications. Just ask Google, Microsoft, or Yahoo. See "widgets" and "mashups" above.Trend No. 6: User-generated content. "There is an explosion of user-generated content. It's becoming increasingly important for companies to monitor consumer sentiment via CRM [customer resource management]," Swaminathan says. CIOs will need to harness and analyze this kind of data as never before.

Trend No. 7: Software development revised. Social computing, user-generated data, and shadow IT are driving a perception of corporate applications as organically growing entities rather than finished goods. "We are seeing the gradual elevation of the software development process itself. There is a new paradigm called 'forever beta,' where online companies never expect applications to be completed."

Trend No. 8: Green computing. Accenture doesn't mean just saving power in data centers. Instead, Swaminathan defines green computing as using online processes in place of resource-intensive supply chains and procedures. Using online applications will actually save power, trees, and other forms of natural resources by changing the nature of how some business functions are achieved.

A lot of these trends point to futures that may not happen for many companies. But in larger enterprises, Swaminathan thinks they will have an impact on CIOs in a number of ways. For one thing, it will be easier for CIOs to buy into an ecosystem than to purchase multiple services from different SaaS providers. Security may even be more effective from an ecosystem supplier: "Crime in the neighborhood leads to a gated community," quips Swaminathan.

Shadow IT and the growth of social computing will force CIOs to shift their role from overseeing application development and maintenance to overseeing data itself. "The focus of the CIO will be entirely on securing, managing, and building out to the right people the right kind of data," Swaminathan says. "Being master of data management will be lot harder than you think. Data will reside in multiple places. SaaS providers will use different semantics. Managing data will be a significant problem.... Today you send reports; tomorrow you will publish data as a Web service."Where is storage in all this? "Hardware is going more and more toward scale, to the point where it won't be economical for anyone to run a small data center," Swaminathan says. Ecosystem cloud suppliers will buy storage in bulk and squeeze storage manufacturers for better deals. CIOs may not have to concern themselves so much with large-scale storage networking.

It makes sense for big storage suppliers to start their own ecosystem clouds, compete with applications like document management. Vendors might offer services to specific verticals. In turn, storage suppliers would join other ecosystems, serving as the hardware underpinning for groups of SaaS suppliers addressing applications in various environments, such as Oracle, Microsoft, or SAP.

Swaminathan sees all of this as positive for today's CIOs. "The role of the CIO, while it's going to change dramatically, is actually going to be a positive transformation because the CIO will go from somebody who manages existing IT systems to one of really significant value creation for companies. The CIOs who make the transition successfully will have a much expanded footprint in companies."

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  • Accenture

  • Amazon Web Services LLC

  • Google (Nasdaq: GOOG)

  • IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM)

  • Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)

  • Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL)

  • SAP AG (NYSE/Frankfurt: SAP)

  • Yahoo Inc.0

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