A look ahead to 2017

Blog Cloud Collaboration Security Tuesday 7th March 2017 • 5 min read
Gregg Mearing, Head of Managed Services

Geopolitically, 2016 will be remembered as an annus horribilis by many of us.

However, there’s no ignoring that for those in the Managed Cloud Service Provider (MCSP) and IT Consultancy arena it’s been something of a productive year.

So, looking ahead, what do we think are going to be the big trends in 2017?

Security threats will continue to escalate across 2017. More sophisticated responses will be required.

In mid 2016 we observed, in an original piece of research, that UK organisations were worryingly ill-equipped to mitigate emerging security threats. 75% of UK businesses lack DDoS protection, 75% have no Unified Threat Management, and most claim their businesses would fail within a day without critical infrastructure.

What was true in 2016 will be even more true in 2017. The industry has seen growth in attacks for financial gain, state-sponsored hacks, and so-called ‘hacktivism’, as well as insider threats, specifically. We are expecting to see, amongst other things, an increase in ransomware attacks within 2017. This will force many businesses to review their backup and continuity policies.

Security spending will likely continue to be the number one priority for most IT Decision makers. I think we’ll also see a movement to embrace more sophisticated security approaches such as UTM, Security Incident and Event Management (SIEM) systems, as well as a growth in Managed Service security offerings from cloud providers.

Addressing IoT security issues may well fall on MCSPs and ISPs initially

This year, the industry has seen IoT DDoS attacks carried out on a scale never seen before. These attacks have largely leveraged simple security weaknesses (such as the presence of default administration passwords) and have been used to attack several high profile sites including Spotify and krebsonsecurity.com.

Addressing IoT security is likely to require a combination of initiatives, from better user education, to establishing better security at the level of the devices themselves. However, improving the ‘security-mindedness’ of device hardware and software will do little to address security flaws already present in many hundreds of thousands of IoT devices already in the field.

For many regulators, encouraging (or even forcing) MCSPs and ISPs to put better IoT-oriented security measures in place may seem a temptingly ‘quick fix’. In any case, such safeguards at the level of the service provider will need to be part of the solution. Across 2017 MCSPs and ISPs can probably expect to see regulators ramp up the pressure in terms of IoT device monitoring.

Growth in UCaaS and increasing movement of more advanced features down-market

The UC and collaboration markets have been on an upward curve for years. However, what some companies call ‘UC’ is often no more than a simple VOIP service with some app integration. UC and collaboration tools are capable of so much more. So, why have so many companies failed to adopt ‘proper’ UC tools?

Many businesses have found the ‘top end’ features (videoconferencing, messaging, presence, social integration, a joined-up, single-vendor experience, end-to-end support, etc.) to be something only the largest companies are able to afford. In 2017, we expect to see major inroads from several vendors in terms of bringing these ‘premium’ UC and collaboration tools ‘downstream’, and making them available, as a cloud-based service, to the masses.

EUGDPR

The new inbound EUGDPR regulations are likely to put the cat amongst the pigeons for many Data Centre owners. Are they prepared to meet its basic stipulations in terms of data sovereignty and encryption? Can these stipulations still be met while offering public cloud services? And does ensuring EUGDPR compliance represent an opportunity to sell additional services?

It’s a safe bet that many Data Centre owners are a good deal less prepared to answer these questions than they would care to admit. From the ‘one year to go mark’, in April 2017, we can expect to see something of a dash for the finish line from most Data Centre providers, with elevated activity and service offerings around EUGDPR compliance.

Growth in automation and orchestration

We’ve already seen some moves towards this in the industry. As cloud industries continue to mature, and certain services become more of a ‘known quantity’, I think we can expect to see more and more cloud services purchased and provisioned in an automated, ‘app store’/self-service fashion.

“Hybrid” will be a big focus in 2017

With most companies now operating some mixture of of on-premise and cloud infrastructure, the next big question for many is how to balance the advantages of ‘private’ clouds against the instant scalability and versatility of public cloud compute and storage.

In 2017 we can expect to see a rise in both public cloud consultancy and managed services from MCSPs and IT Consultancies, as well as growth in services (such as Netapp’s NPS) designed to help companies maintain data privacy as they ‘leverage public cloud services.

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