What were the key trends in IT over the last year, and more importantly, what are we seeing real companies doing on the frontline?
Read on to find out what Total’s customers have been telling us, and what two of my Total colleagues have seen through 2018.
Everything as a service
If I had to pick one trend to highlight, it would be the move to subscription-based services, whether that’s Software as a Service (SaaS), Infrastructure (IaaS), Device (DaaS) or anything else. As technology becomes ever more complicated, it has become much harder for IT teams to maintain the resources and skills necessary to deliver a highly performant service, around the clock – much better to have a specialist take care of it for you, and focus on where you can add value.
While SaaS and IaaS aren’t new, 2018 saw the arrival of DaaS in an attractive form and it already looks like it’s becoming huge. Device as a Service gives the IT team the opportunity to improve service and off-load many of the aspects of device provision, management and support they often find so irksome, typically for a fixed monthly fee.
“Fundamentally, we’re seeing the entire IT industry shifting to a subscription model,” says Simon Ashall, Head of Vendor Management. “We’re a big advocate of DaaS – and you don’t even have to pay for it monthly if you don’t want to, because the other key benefits are analytics and increasing control of your estate. With a DaaS model, you get pre-emptive warnings of any failures, and you can analyse the performance of any device.”
At Total, we provide that as an automated process for a lot of businesses, and we’re seeing a big uptake for this service. DaaS also enables companies to become more user-centric – giving their people the right devices based on historic usage data.
Simon adds, “We’re all more and more used to paying for things on monthly subscriptions – having started with SaaS, and progressed to moving storage, backup and other workloads to Microsoft Azure, organisations are starting to think about delivering end-user devices on a subscription basis.”
Business software has, for many years, led the way with ‘as-a-service’, subscription based, delivery and it’s now almost the norm. October saw Microsoft release the latest version of its Windows Server operating system, as well as multiple applications. While Microsoft continues to provide on-premise versions, they’re releasing more via the Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) model, with a one-year or three-year subscription.
“CSP started off just being Office 365, then it added Azure, and now Microsoft is introducing more and more products – and, due to constant updates, the subscription-based versions of Office 365 get new features first,” says David Skinner, Microsoft Cloud and Solution Specialist.
Microsoft drives innovation
We’ve been seeing Microsoft’s rebirth as an innovator taking shape for a while now, but 2018 could well go down as the year when Microsoft once again became synonymous with innovation – with plenty still to come in 2019, according to the rumours.
“Microsoft has been driving innovation in the channel for about five years now, first because they wanted a device that changed how users interact with Windows 10, and traditional hardware vendors weren’t developing the right kind of product,” explains Simon. “The Surface Pro 3 changed the market, and now Microsoft is at the cutting edge of technology.”
“In the past, Microsoft has struggled to get software vendors to build apps for Windows 10 Mobile, but now they have more devices, there’s a momentum of developers starting to see the need to support it,” comments Simon.
Cloud keeps on growing
Unsurprisingly, 2018 was another big year for cloud. At Total, we’ve seen a lot more of our customers embracing cloud and one reason for this was the new GDPR data protection laws in May – rather than retaining the risk of being compliant with on-premise systems, many organisations have moved workloads to public cloud providers like AWS or Microsoft, which already have highly reliable, secure and accredited platforms.
“Microsoft surpassed Apple as the world’s most valuable company, and that’s mostly down to its strengths in cloud, with Azure growing faster than AWS, the market leader in public cloud,” says David.
Shifting the responsibility for security and compliance to an external provider has been a big driver for moving to public cloud, and I believe that trend will only increase in 2019. Simon comments, “GDPR is the first step on a road, and the major security breaches we’ve seen in 2018 – like Marriott – show that the ability to control and secure data is essential.”
Overall, there’s still a broad mix of cloud strategies, with many organisations wanting or needing to retain some workloads on premise. At Total, we advocate a cloud-first approach and have successfully moved all our systems to the cloud. In general, SMEs tend to be moving faster to cloud, whereas large enterprises are lagging, as they have bigger investments in legacy systems, and the move is less straightforward for them.
With many companies still catching up to the latest trends in cloud, and elsewhere, it’s going to be really interesting to see what 2019 holds. In my next blog, I’ll be outlining our predictions for the year ahead.