A Look Back, The Road Ahead for IT

Tight budgets led to look closely at the cloud and encryption solutions. What will grab IT’s attention in 2012?

Don Massaro, CEO, Sendmail

Looking back at 2011, several key themes emerged that had a significant impact on businesses. IT departments everywhere sought ways to reduce costs and management woes, and in the year to come, companies will continue their efforts to find ways to reduce costs and position themselves for growth. There are a few key trends I anticipate we’ll see in FY2012 as enterprises continue to assess potential technology investments and focus on initiatives that maximize IT resources.

Here is my take on the key trends we saw in 2011 and my predictions for the three biggest trends we’ll see in IT in 2012.

A Look Back at 2011

The Cloud Opportunity: One of the biggest trends this year was “the cloud opportunity.” Cloud computing was top of mind for nearly every CIO, as vendors and advocates touted cost savings, resource management benefits, and scalability. In 2011, enterprises looked for technologies that enabled them to put the cloud into action by migrating certain components of their IT infrastructure to the cloud.

The second half of the year saw companies carefully weighing the benefits and the risks of the cloud environment. Based on the momentum the cloud had moving into this year, it wasn’t surprising to see the technology and adoption as a key trend for 2011, but what did surprise some were the unforeseen complications an enterprise can face when moving to the cloud, such as concern about security as well as management and control of on-premises enterprise applications.

Increased Adoption of Encryption Solutions: This past year there was significant traction in the increased adoption of encryption. Encryption is not new in and of itself, but the usage adoptions were different from what we’ve traditionally seen. In the past, driving factors for encryption came from business-to-business (B2B) communications -- for example, where a business communicated company-sensitive information to partners and would opt to encrypt those communications.

Now, two key encryption-adoption changes that we’ve seen demonstrate that some businesses are being even more progressive about protecting data being shared via e-mail. One of those changes includes a significant spike in encrypted business-to-consumer (B2C) communications, such as statement delivery, account updates, and quotes for new services. Businesses are becoming increasingly sensitive to the fear among consumers in protecting their private data and companies are now taking steps to reassure and invoke the confidence of their customers.

The second encryption trend we saw was the increased use of encryption for internal communications between different departments or business teams within an organization in an effort to protect sensitive information.

Increased Reliance on Delivery of Business-Critical Information: With the economy continuing to stagnate in 2011, competition has become even fiercer. Sometimes seconds can have a major impact on a company’s bottom line. In 2011, we saw IT messaging departments shift away from just being responsible for “delivering the mail” to ensuring that time-sensitive business communications that impact revenue have priority over any other e-mail communications. These types of messages are typically driven by enterprise systems-of-record and systems-of-engagement applications that automatically generate messages based on certain near real-time events.

As this concern evolved over the past year, we saw more companies start looking for “adaptive deliverability” solutions to help them automate the process of delivering messages based on such factors as business priority. This trend will continue into 2012. Even as enterprise IT departments continue migrating end-user e-mail to the cloud, they will start to implement e-mail backbone routing, delivery, and control applications on-premises to ensure timely delivery of business critical messages.

A Look Ahead at 2012

The Road Ahead for Cloud Computing: Cloud computing, which can offer savings and efficiencies when executed well, will continue to be top of mind for IT. The adoption of hybrid infrastructures that make use of both cloud services and in-house infrastructures will be key this year. In 2011, early adopters began to share their stories as real-world deployments, and lessons learned in cloud computing were shared, including remaining worries about security for e-mail in the cloud.

Enterprises will continue to look for ways to consolidate, simplify, and reduce the costs of their mission-critical e-mail messaging infrastructures and will need to weigh the cost justifications and trade-offs in providing e-mail as a service utility to users. We'll see continued innovation and progress from vendors regarding the security and dependability of cloud computing, especially in the "Infrastructure-as-a-Service" realm. Cloud computing will change the IT industry from an asset-centric approach to a services-centric approach.

Application-generated E-mail will Dominate Messaging: In 2012, I anticipate that the cloud opportunity will lead to enterprises discovering the “Black Swan” in cloud e-mail deployments. Human-generated (aka collaborative end-user) e-mail messages are simply the tip of the iceberg, and in 2012 we’ll see application-generated e-mail from enterprise systems (such as CRM and ERP) continue to rise. We’ll also see internal systems that use e-mail for server error notifications, system alerts, or policy-dictated capacity warnings, continue to rise due to the ongoing availability and reliability concerns of business critical infrastructure operations.

Applications generating e-mail are widespread, and the volume may be surprising to those outside of the IT organization. Even copy machines, telephony systems, and security systems generate high volumes of e-mail messages. The challenge for IT is how to manage these systems after moving collaborative end-user e-mail to the cloud.

More U.S. Government Agencies Get On Board with Cloud Computing: Cloud computing has rapidly gained acceptance among enterprise organizations. As best practices are shared, more government agencies will consider a move to the cloud in 2012 to seize on potential cost savings and the advantages of data center consolidation. Although organizations have been learning that cloud deployments are not as easy as they may appear, especially for large organizations with complex messaging requirements, 2011 proved to yield innovative new solutions to address these challenges. Next year, the private cloud will be the most frequent type of cloud deployment model in government, with the second being community clouds.

Overall for 2012, I believe that companies will need to architect a modern messaging platform that will support hybrid cloud/on-premises systems and exist as an integral part of the overall enterprise IT fabric.

Don Massaro is the CEO of Sendmail. He has more than 30 years of success building and managing both public and privately-held technology companies. Mr. Massaro is responsible for strategic planning and execution, and corporate leadership to establish Sendmail, a leader in the emerging content-security market. Most recently, Mr. Massaro held the position of CEO and co-founder at Reconnex Corporation, a content-monitoring security appliance provider. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in aeronautical engineering from the University of Notre Dame and received a Master of Science degree in mechanical engineering from Northwestern University. In addition, Mr. Massaro was a Ph.D. engineering candidate at the University of California at Berkeley. You can contact the author at dmassaro@sendmail.com
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