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Top Tech Trends and Predictions for 2019

Author: Global Knowledge

What to expect in cloud, cybersecurity, networking and IT training

What can tech professionals expect in 2019? We scanned the industry and asked our subject matter experts to weigh in on the top tech and IT training trends coming our way. From cybersecurity to hybrid clouds to skills gaps (sorry, they’re not going anywhere without continuous learning), here are major trends likely to impact IT in 2019.

IT skills gaps will continue to be a problem

The steep rise in recent years of IT skills gaps isn’t going to crest anytime soon. In the Global Knowledge 2018 IT Skills and Salary Report, 75% of IT decision-makers in North America said their teams faced a shortage of necessary skills. That number is up 4% since 2017, and a whopping 20% since 2016.

More training support is needed. Over one-third of organizations don’t allocate training funds, while 54% of IT decision-makers aren’t approving training. If these trends continue, skills gaps will rise even further.

According to a recent report from the International Data Corporation (IDC), by 2020, 90% of all organizations will have adjusted project plans, delayed product/service releases, or incurred costs due to lack of IT skills, with losses worldwide totalling $390 billion annually.1

Specifically, IDC determined that unskilled IT organizations are 40% slower to adopt the cloud and 80% less likely to experience benefits of digital transformation.1

This is more reason to make sure training is a major part of your 2019 plans. And realistically, that may require a culture shift within your organization. Technology is changing too rapidly—IT professionals can’t be expected to keep their skills up to date on the fly. Don’t think you can ignore, or just power through these skills shortages without the business suffering. These gaps are having tangible effects, such as increased stress on existing employees, difficulty meeting quality objects, delays in development and deployment, and loss of revenue. If you’re a decision-maker and your organization has allocated a training budget, make sure you follow through and approve training for your team. Don’t make excuses—skills gaps will cost you.

Training is the antidote to skills gaps. Key areas where training is needed must be identified. You can’t do this without a plan. Select the training and IT certifications that will have the most meaningful impact for you or your department. We understand that IT budgets are tightening, so making sure you select the right training, and training provider, is essential. If you’re allocating part of your budget for formal training, you can’t afford to swing and miss.

Automation will allow IT departments to focus more on strategic initiatives

IDC declares “the future of IT is automation.”2 With skills gaps consuming the industry, automating time-consuming tasks is one way to allow professionals to focus on areas that support and grow organizational initiatives.

The number of automated processes will rise in the coming year—IDC estimates 25% of IT processes will be automated in 2019, which will net a 15% gain in productivity. The goal is to free up resources. As IDC puts it, leave the “basic ‘keep the lights on’ function of IT to the machines.”

IDC offers three tips for organizations regarding automation:

  • IT organizations must ensure their automation and AI-driven functions have high accuracy and fidelity. Failsafe functions on IT and security management platforms are also crucial.
  • From a personnel perspective, map out what a future IT organization might look like in a more automated environment, especially with regards to automation-enabled service desk, systems administration tools, and security operations.
  • Plan for how the organization might promote a future self-service/automation-oriented IT organization, especially as a competitive advantage in attracting and retaining talent.

Organizations must prepare for GDPR or suffer the consequences

The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which was implemented in May, hasn’t been an afterthought for North American companies. If you transact online with anyone in the EU, you’re subject to GDPR’s rules. This means that global organizations of all sizes have had to reassess how they manage and secure their data.

Understanding and complying with data protection legislation should be a major focus for all organizations as we head into 2019. The results of noncompliance are severe enough to do serious long-term damage.

“This is the No. 1 cybersecurity point to call out,” said Brad Puckett, Global Knowledge global portfolio director of cybersecurity. “The implications of the possible fines are staggering, both monetarily and brand-wise.”

IDC predicts that a lack of attention to GDPR principles will “likely be the undoing of at least one large organization by 2022.”3

To limit noncompliance with the law, organizations should invest more in IT security and data management. Cybersecurity professionals need an understanding of the entire data environment, including data both on-premise and in the cloud.

The number of companies offering cybersecurity services will drop

The cybersecurity skills shortage is enormous … and growing. Over 40% of IT decision-makers in North America are having difficulty finding qualified cybersecurity talent. ISACA is predicting a two million shortage of cybersecurity employees next year.

IDC views these trends as irreversible and predicts the number of cybersecurity companies will drop by nearly 40% by 2023.3 There aren’t enough cybersecurity professionals and companies are reducing their usage of security products in favour of platforms. This in turn will reduce the entrepreneurial opportunities of start-up security companies.

“The evolution of cybersecurity as an industry involves an amalgamation and a process of natural selection as it reaches a more mature growth market,” Puckett said. “The effective and efficient will win out over the fray.”

Professionals with up-to-date cybersecurity skills and certifications will separate from the pack. This type of expertise is in high demand. And just a general understanding of cybersecurity best practices isn’t enough. Superior cybersecurity organizations will be defined by how well they build winning cybersecurity teams by developing expertise across eight specialization areas:

  • Architecture and Policy
  • Data Loss Prevention
  • Governance, Risk and Compliance
  • Identity and Access Management
  • Incident Response and Forensic Analysis
  • Penetration Testing
  • Secure DevOps
  • Secure Software Development

Hybrid cloud environments will gain support

During his keynote at AWS re: Invent 2018, AWS CEO Andy Jassy acknowledged that cloud migration takes a lot of effort. He also pointed out that the longer an organization waits to migrate, the more difficult it gets.

That’s why AWS, with the help of VMware, is going all-in on hybrid cloud solutions.

Joined on stage by VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger, Jassy unveiled AWS Outposts, a new service to be launched in 2019 that allows users to run AWS infrastructure in an on-premise data centre. The support of hybrid environments is a big step for AWS, which has been almost entirely cloud-focused.

Jassy said that many customers have asked, “Is there a way that you can provide AWS services, like compute, like storage, on-premises but in a way that really seamlessly and consistently interacts with the rest of my applications in AWS and the rest of the services I might be able to use in AWS?”

AWS Outposts is the answer to that question.

The strengthening partnership between AWS and VMware is a major win for customers who aren’t ready to fully migrate to the cloud. Outposts will allow users to shift seamlessly between the cloud and data centre, while using the same APIs, tools, hardware and functionality in each environment. This is a welcoming sign for customers who have workloads that are expected to live on-premises for a long time.

IT professionals responsible for managing a hybrid cloud should have skills required to seamlessly connect the two environments—the two most important being data transferring and vendor management.

Expect hybrid clouds to gain even more support next year, especially as AWS and VMware continue to work together to innovate and deliver more options for customers.

Cost management will be a priority for cloud users

As cloud adoption and consumption continues to grow, so too does the ongoing need to understand the management and control of costs grows. You’ve probably heard about the primary benefits of cloud utilization—better ROI, decrease in IT cost, etc. However, there are many horror stories of users “forgetting” to shut something off or not knowing how to optimize performance, which leads to an overwhelmingly high bill.

Everyone from executives to architects, sysadmins and developers should thoroughly understand the pricing models and billing structure to avoid costly mishaps. There are plenty of cloud cost management tools available and even vendor-specific products and services that cloud providers offer, such as AWS Cost Explorer, Google Cloud Billing and more.

Expect SD-WAN demand to rise sharply

The market for software-defined wide area networks (SD-WAN) is already growing quickly. So much so, that experts expect SD-WAN demand to grow annually by 40%.

IDC projects that the SD-WAN infrastructure market, which reached $833 million in 2017, will balloon to $4.5 billion by 2022.4

“The emergence of SD-WAN technology has been one of the fastest industry transformations we have seen in years. Organizations of all sizes are modernizing their Wide Area Networks to provide improved user experience for a range of cloud-enabled applications,” said Rohit Mehra, vice president, Network Infrastructure, IDC. “Incumbent networking vendors have quickly realigned their routing and WAN optimization portfolios to take on the growing cadre of start-ups in this market. Enabled by a rapid uptake across the service provider domain, SD-WAN infrastructure will continue to grow rapidly in the coming years, providing a beachhead for other software-defined networking and security functions in the enterprise branch.”

Software-defined networking (SDN) was a growing IT trend in 2018 and will continue to gain in demand in ensuing years. SDN makes networks more flexible and adaptable, and helped drive multiple technological innovations in 2018.

“The upward trajectory of SDN solutions will carry over into next year as digital disruption and transformation will continue to challenge customers in 2019,” said Lisa Jones, Global Knowledge global product portfolio director for Cisco.

Cisco SD-WAN is a product designed to support SDN’s recent boom by enabling digital and cloud transformation for enterprises. Cisco is the biggest player in the SD-WAN market behind its robust routing portfolio, as well as its Meraki training. Traditional WAN architectures aren’t equipped to handle the increased bandwidth, cloud connectivity optimization and the security needs associated with the current rise of cloud-based apps and IoT. With a majority of enterprise customers expected to evaluate their software-defined access and software-defined WAN vendors next year, Cisco understands that their products and services must serve as a solution to the digital disruption that will continue into 2019.

One of those products, the Catalyst 9000, was introduced last year and is now Cisco’s fastest-selling product ever. The popularity of this data centre switch has been a major driving force behind Cisco’s intent-based networking initiative, which focuses on software rather than Cisco’s traditional hardware position.


1 IDC FutureScape: Worldwide Services 2019 Predictions, Doc #US43253918, Oct. 2018 
2 IDC FutureScape: Worldwide Future of Work 2019 Predictions, Doc #EMEA44255218, Oct 2018
3 IDC FutureScape: Worldwide Security Products and Services 2019 Predictions, Doc #US44388118, Oct 2018
4 SD-WAN Infrastructure Market Poised to Reach $4.5 Billion in 2022, According to IDC, Doc #prUS44203118, Aug 2018

Source: Global Knowledge