What does 2019 hold in store, technology-wise, for the mission critical facility industry? The experts at SolarWinds have looked into the future and have prognosticated what is on the horizon.

1.       Battle for the Cloud: The Scramble to Engage Enterprise Customers by Head Geek Patrick Hubbard

As public cloud adoption becomes more mainstream, cloud providers such as AWS, Azure, and Google will likely find themselves in a “mad scramble” to gain additional enterprise/on-premises customers. Now, enterprises are in the midst of migrating applications into the technology stack, both in the cloud and on-premises. With this trend, tools that help facilitate app migration and detangling will be a focus in 2019. Some providers, such as AWS, have already begun leading the charge, offering their own proprietary software to handle and automatically monitor app migration.

In 2019, public cloud providers will begin implementing new strategies and tactics to gain enterprise customers, reintroducing cloud and the tech it offers as they pursue enterprise markets.

2.       The Year of DataOps and the Rise of Data-Driven, Data-First Organizations By Head Geek Tom LaRock

All DevOps strategies have universal goals: agility, faster deployment, increased enduser experience, and “smart” operational decision-making. With DevOps transitioning from a hype to a standard practice in agile IT departments, technology and operations professionals striving to add value to their businesses should consider the next step in enhancing their departments: DataOps.

In today’s increasingly digital world, data cannot be excluded from the agile decision-making process. In fact, we predict that 2019 will be the year that data is recognized as a key business driver. “Data culture” will become increasingly implemented into tech environments, and organizations will become data-driven and data-first. This shift will also give rise to DataOps as traditional admins start to understand that their days of tuning indexes are ending, one page at a time. Operations teams must adopt a “data mindset” to discern the type of data that exceeds their department and can be polished into something that adds value to the business overall. With DataOps, organizations can begin to transition their IT team into a data science team, as they adopt a data-first frame of mind.

DataOps can help the C-suite operate their businesses more effectively by extracting and analyzing the most pertinent pieces of data and distilling and crafting them into a compelling and “business-digestible” narrative that can be easily understood across the organization. Companies will begin to actuate on this data, not just report and track in Excel — they will start using valuable data to make more informed decisions. The ability to share this actionable, business-digestible narrative may even earn tech pros a seat at the strategy table.

3.       State of Security: SMBs and MSSP by Head Geek Destiny Bertucci

As we approach 2019, the security landscape is more tumultuous than ever. DDOS attacks are on the rise based on individually hijacked machines, and it’s safe to assume hackers are sitting on a wide array of personal data accessed from any one of the number of breaches in 2018. In 2019, the ever-changing security landscape will pose the greatest threat to small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs), while simultaneously creating greater opportunity for both managed service providers and managed security service providers (MSSPs). Here are the predictions:

  • The SMB Attack Vector: While we don’t see breaches slowing down, we are predicting that small and mid-sized businesses will be the easiest targets in 2019. With weaker security, a lack of user education, and fewer trained professionals, these factors dramatically simplify the opportunity for breaches. Hackers will easily be able to access their data and target SMBs for more money.
  • MSPs expanding to security: MSPs are seeing the opportunity to expand their businesses to include security services; however, we can expect that many will lack existing security resources and as a result look for partnered assistance from Managed Security Service Providers. The benefits of the MSSP model include the ability to quickly scale capacity and security expertise while MSPs build their own internal capabilities.
  • MSSPs on the Rise: As a natural effect of the previous prediction, Managed Security Service Providers will see an uptick in the next year. In addition to MSPs driving demand, MSSPs will be on the rise due to the lack of properly trained security professionals at smaller businesses and the growing need for organizations to rely on a third party for true security support and defense.

4.       5G in 2019: Are We There Yet? By Head Geek Sascha Giese

“5G” is a huge buzzword as we round the corner toward 2019, with many businesses clamoring for airtime about how their technologies will be even better on a 5G network. Next year is expected to be all about 5G, but there is one element largely absent from the discussion: many companies are claiming 5G-readiness, but without the infrastructure to support it, we’ll be left with the same bandwidth speed as before.

Let me reiterate: The theoretical max speed of 5G is 10 Gbps, and we are looking at a latency of 4 ms. That’s for the connection to a single endpoint, of course, before even talking backbone.

Each generation of technology opens up a world of possibilities for telecommunications companies. However, when 4G launched in 2009, mobile operators didn’t see the great returns they’d captured with earlier generations. According to McKinsey, revenues showed flat or tepid growth, since there is a large investment to be made on the infrastructure side to successfully deploy a new generation. To be able to take advantage of all that 5G will have to offer, telco companies will need to increase their infrastructure investments. Operators will have to upgrade their 4G networks to cope with the growing demand in 2019.

Some major players in the mobile space are highly aware of the latency issue. Apple announced that they will not be introducing an iPhone capable of faster 5G cellular data networks in 2019. Apple might believe the move to 5G is premature, as it’s not the first time Apple has come to a new wireless technology late. In the past, the company has said the networks were too nascent when launched and offered inadequate coverage until they were built out more.

While 5G promises one of the biggest leaps in cellular data speeds yet, it will be rolled out in a similar way to previous generations, beginning in major cities and slowly rolling out to national and global coverage. Low frequency will be deployed first, but there will be a time delay, similar to when we all bought phones with LTE capabilities years before the benefits were fully available. In the year ahead, we predict there will be a growing awareness that while 5G innovation exists, the infrastructure will need significant time and investments to catch up.

5.       A Programmer’s Paradise by Head Geek Leon Adato

Despite its transformative potential, automation is still too often perceived as a significant threat to technology professionals’ careers. However, in 2019, we expect that tech pros will realize that contrary to widespread “automation anxiety,” they can actually automate themselves into a job rather than out of a job. As a result, we will see a dramatic acceleration of programming culture at organizations that have not experimented in this space before.

Many technology professionals working within a hybrid environment are already on the cusp of this transition, as the ability to use a GUI, CLI, or an API to manage cloud workloads is driving greater competency in automation and advanced scripting skills. As admins support ever more cloud workloads, we’ll see a greater number of tech pros become successful at using APIs, GUIs, and CLIs to define not only networks, storage, and services, but a number of other processes, such as managing container queues. At the same time, automation technology will also deliver significant benefits to tech pros who are focused on the systems side of the house, who must begin to think more in terms of command-line actions and transition to an automation and orchestration-led way of doing things.

Ultimately, as tech professionals — especially those working at SMBs — become more enlightened by the transformative potential of automation tools, we expect they will simultaneously identify opportunities to automate a variety of processes. The growth of conferences like DevNet at Cisco Live! — which will dominate nearly 75% of next year’s Cisco Live! Event — is proof positive that 2019 will be a programmer’s paradise.