From the WannaCry ransomware attack in May to the Equifax data breach revealed in October, 2017 has been a busy and turbulent year in the world of business IT. But what do the next 12 months hold for the industry, and for UK data centres and cloud hosting in particular?
As per tradition, below are our top four predictions for 2018.
1. GDPR comes into even sharper focus
The EU’s new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has been in the offing for a long time, but it’s only recently that we’ve seen firms start to enter full-on panic mode over the new data protection rules and their implications across the entire IT estate.
This includes implications for the relationships between firms and any third-party colocation and cloud hosting providers they use. From the May 2018 enforcement deadline, those providers will be expected to shoulder more of the burden for compliance in their fresh designation as “data processors”, but the onus is still on their customers - or “data controllers” - to ensure their suppliers are able to handle personal data in a compliant way.
For more of our thoughts on the topic, read our blog: Is your cloud or colocation provider GDPR-compliant?
2. The rise of hybrid IT continues
We predicted rapid growth in the hybrid IT market back in our 2017 predictions, and we’ve seen plenty of evidence to suggest this will continue through 2018 - both in our own experience with customers and research from other industry commentators. The latest whitepaper from the Cloud Industry Forum, for example, states 88% of UK firms are now users of cloud hosting services - but more than half (58%) do so within the context of a hybrid IT estate.
If you’re planning to join them this year, here’s what you need to consider in your first hybrid IT environment.
3. Business continuity in the spotlight
According to the latest Horizon Scan report from the BCI, over a fifth (21%) of firms worldwide expect to allocate larger budgets to business continuity in 2018. After the year of the WannaCry cyber attack - in which tens of thousands of NHS devices were reported to have been knocked offline by ransomware - and some of the most destructive weather on record, this extra attention should come as no surprise.
Disaster recovery (DR) continues to be an area of IT that many firms put on the back burner, not least because of the cost involved, but it’s becoming more and more difficult to ignore the importance of a strong DR plan in order to run an adaptable digital business. This means greater use of off-site backup and more use of the cloud via solutions such as DRaaS.
4. Cloud and security skills in short supply
Finally, in light of the trends described above, it’s doubtless that firms will continue to feel the impact of IT skills shortages through 2018. A lack of skills in cloud (and hybrid IT) and security in particular will put up barriers to progress, according to reports we’ve seen through 2017 - this study from Microsoft, for example, found almost two-fifths (38%) of UK companies have found it difficult to recruit staff with the right level of cloud expertise to drive their digital transformation efforts.
In consequence, we may see firms become more reliant on their outsourcing partners to fill the gaps in their knowledge around topics such as cloud and hybrid IT - even those that would have been more self-sufficient in their infrastructure projects in the past.