3 major themes that will dominate enterprise tech this year

3 Jan 2024

Image: © Екатерина Бирюкова/Stock.adobe.com

Senior leaders in Kyndryl take a closer look at enterprise and network tech to see how emerging trends will shape the industry this year.

As we kick off a new year, it’s time for IT leaders to get to grips with the ever-changing landscape of tech. How did 2023 change the industry? What trends are starting to emerge for the year ahead? And how will these changes affect the way tech leaders manage their tech strategies?

To gain a little more insight into some of the major themes in networks and enterprise tech, including the digital side of the public sector, we heard from three senior leaders at IT infrastructure services provider Kyndryl.

Hybrid cloud will thrive, but the mainframe is still alive

Ben Scowen is vice-president and UK and Ireland cloud and core leader at Kyndryl. He said one of the biggest narratives in enterprise tech lost some steam this year and that is that mainframes are on the way out.

“Even though we’ve been talking about cloud-first as an almost inevitable destination for business IT for years now, the mainframe has kept solidly delivering real value throughout. That reality, together with the fact that compute-intensive artificial intelligence applications are offering new ways to leverage the critical data that mainframes manage, has led to a new recognition of the mainframe’s value,” he said.

“Recent research by Kyndryl found that, while 95pc of enterprises are moving workloads into the cloud, those moves add up to something in the region of 37pc of workloads overall: hybrid, in other words, is the new cloud-first.”

Because of this hybrid strategy, Scowen said mainframe modernisation talent is going to a hot commodity this year, especially those who have expertise in the area of bridging the gap between mainframes and hybrid ecosystems.

He also said technical debt will be recognised as the “smoking gun in what we call the innovation doom loop” in 2024.

“The innovation doom loop represents the relationship between innovation and tech debt. What do we mean by this? Innovation consumes resources. Innovation creates technical debt. Technical debt consumes resources, exposes you to risk, makes you dependent on niche skills. Innovation is throttled by technical debt. Technical debt grows,” he said. “We have spent the last 15 years building tech debt in the cloud and the last 40 years building it in the data centre. This must be addressed.”

Showtime for network modernisation

When it comes to networking, Stuart Greenslade, director and professional services partner at Kyndryl, said it has long been underappreciated despite its criticality to enterprise operations until the massive shift to remote and flexible working.

“Now that demands on networks feel slightly more predictable again, many enterprises are recognising that their networking operations require a longer term, strategic modernisation plan,” he said.

“This will be especially necessary with the proliferation of AI-driven devices at the edge, which will pick up significantly in 2024 as vendors bring to market some of the innovations and breakthroughs that have been the big story of 2023. More bandwidth, lower latency, and – crucially – stronger embedded security will be at the top of every enterprise’s shopping list.”

Greenslade also said that AI will be an opportunity as much as a challenge for the networks as predictive analytics can proactively identify network failures and bottlenecks before they cause damage.

“We will also see an accelerating uptake of advanced wireless networks, including satellite and private and national 5G, as businesses lean on multiple modes of networking managed through smarter tools to build out the right connectivity, on time and on budget. One thing is for sure, visibility and control over these multiple mediums will be essential.”

Public sector will face digital headwinds

What do these trends mean for the digital transformation happening within the public sector? Paul Liptrot, Kyndryl’s public sector leader for UK and Ireland, said it’ll come as no surprise that ‘public sector digital’ will face headwinds in the next year.

“Between closely monitored and stringently capped finances, extraordinary requirements around security and uptime for mission-critical processes, sensitivity to political mood shifts and answerability to the ultimate stakeholder in the form of the UK public, civil servants driving digitalisation always have a tough brief,” he said.

“However, there are parts of this landscape that I think suggest that 2024 will be a good year for public sector digital. In particular, there will be a big positive impact from the changing views within enterprise IT of the mainframe. Where once cloud-first was the only answer, large businesses are now accounting for the continuing value of mainframe applications and favouring hybrid strategies accordingly.”

Liptrot also said that industry will likely seek to tap into mainframe data to underpin new AI initiatives, employ more efficient processes to manage more diverse IT ecosystems and make their security postures holistically stronger.

“This will effectively be a full-circle moment for the public sector. Government was an early mover on mainframe computing and it is now primed to reap the benefits of cutting-edge mainframe modernisation options,” he said.

“It will be those public sector organisations that harness security and ops resiliency, improve observability and reduce debt that will successfully digitally transform in 2024.”

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Jenny Darmody is the editor of Silicon Republic