From security, to automation, to networking and beyond, enterprise IT benefits from practices and processes that are pretty well-established at this point.
But that doesn't mean there's no room for improvement. On the contrary, enterprise IT organizations are set to enhance various key practices in subtle but important ways going into 2023. The fundamental aspects of enterprise IT may not change, but specific facets of IT operations will — at least at forward-thinking businesses.
Here's a look at five key enterprise IT changes to expect in 2023, and why these emerging trends will exert long-lasting influence over the way large businesses approach IT operations.
1. Cloud WAN Solutions Will Take Over Enterprise Networking
Enterprises have long recognized the importance of optimizing network connectivity. You can't deliver reliable, high-performing services if you lack stable, high-bandwidth, low-latency network connections.
Historically, enterprises implemented those connections by building their own networks or relying on networking services from colocation providers. They interconnected their data centers, for example, or built direct connections between cloud environments and on-prem infrastructure.
Going forward, enterprises will continue to prioritize high-performance networks, but they'll be implementing them in new ways. Instead of relying on interconnection services, they'll be increasingly turning to a new breed of wide area network (WAN) solutions from cloud providers — like AWS WAN and Azure Virtual WAN.
These types of services offer the important benefit of being much faster and simpler to implement than traditional interconnections. Enterprises can stand up WAN services from cloud providers in days instead of months.
In addition, they can pay for those services using consumption-based pricing. That's just not possible when enterprises build their own networks, which are often over-built to support periods of peak demand that occur only occasionally, meaning businesses pay for capacity that they don't consistently use.
2. Operations Teams Gain Efficiency Through Prebuilt Libraries
Automation is nothing new for enterprise IT. Traditionally, though, automation has been most mature in the context of software development, where CI/CD tools automate many of the processes required to write, build, test, and deploy apps. To the extent that operations teams have leveraged automation, it has typically been in the context of infrastructure provisioning.
In 2023, expect to see broader use of automation across all aspects of operations work — from cloud setup and management, to network configuration, to security and compliance enforcement and beyond. Automation in these contexts will help teams complete complex processes much faster, while also reducing the risk of inconsistent configurations.
Part of the reason we'll be seeing broader use of automation, by the way, is that enterprises are increasingly taking advantage of tools that leverage premade automation libraries to configure the scripts that power automated workflows. Instead of having to set up automations by hand and from scratch, smart teams are using preconfigured tooling that dramatically reduces the time and effort required to deploy automations across all facets of enterprise IT operations.
3. Cost Optimization Efforts Will Extend Beyond Rightsizing
How do you save money on your hosting or cloud computing bill?
The conventional answer is strategies like rightsizing instances, using reserved pricing, auto-parking workloads, leveraging volume purchasing, or adopting cloud hosting services that are more cost-efficient for certain workloads, like serverless functions.
The reality, though, is that conventional cost optimization strategies often result in only a fraction of total potential cost savings. In many cases, the majority of wasted spending results from the staff time required to plan, deploy, and manage workloads, not the way those workloads are hosted or configured.
Enterprises are starting to realize this, and in 2023, more of them will push to optimize processes related to workload deployment and management in order to reduce unnecessary time and effort on the part of engineers. To do this, they'll target problems like red tape within the organization that makes collaboration or hand-offs between teams inefficient, or barriers to rapid environment provisioning.
Traditional cost-savings strategies will remain important, too, but they'll become just one element of broader cost optimization initiatives.
4. The Turn Toward Automated Security Remediation
Modern enterprises can take advantage of a plethora of security tools that are very good at detecting and generating alerts about risks. What most tools historically haven't done, however, is actually respond to security issues. That's a task that has conventionally fallen to engineers, who have to view alerts, then formulate and execute a response plan.
In many cases, this type of manual response isn't necessary. It often happens that security risks boil down to relatively simple issues — a misconfigured firewall rule, for instance, or an overly permissive access control setting — that could be corrected automatically by software, instead of humans.
Realizing this, forward-thinking enterprises are already making use of automated remediations to improve security outcomes and minimize the time it takes to mitigate risks. Complex issues will always require human intervention, but the bulk of mundane, tedious security response operations can be outsourced to automated tools.
5. A New Approach to Enterprise IT Training
Enterprise IT staff who need to master technical skills and best practices can turn to a variety of training and certification programs. Unfortunately, those programs are not always completely up-to-date. It often takes time for them to evolve along with new practices and challenges.
In addition, many programs teach technical skills in isolation. They don't provide the context necessary for IT staff to understand how to apply a particular skill or concept to enterprise processes like change management or incident response.
That's starting to change, however, as organizations develop just-in-time training that is tailored to the needs of specific enterprises. Expect to see more businesses taking advantage of this approach in 2023 as they strive to provide their engineers with the most current and actionable skills.
The fundamentals of enterprise IT won't change in 2023, but the way businesses act on those fundamentals will. From more expansive and efficient use of automation, to a simpler approach to high-performance networking, to more holistic thinking about cost optimization and beyond, enterprises are finding smarter ways of solving long-extant problems, and the most efficient organizations will double-down on those efforts in the new year.
Scott Wheeler is Cloud Practice Lead at Asperitas.