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The next generation of internet technology will be inspired and driven by the Infrastructure and Operations (I&O) teams. That call to action came this week as Gartner opened its conference on IT Infrastructure, Operations & Cloud Strategies with a plan to organize the next generation of digital infrastructure.

“I&O leaders need to drive change, not simply absorb it,” said Jeffrey Hewitt, research vice president of Gartner.

Toward that end, presenters will hold strategic talks meant to layout pathways that I&O leaders can take to define a strong, fast, and secure future for the internet, Gartner says. The sessions tackle many pressing issues that will define how the cloud can efficiently deliver streaming data and web services to a world that continues to demand more data at a faster rate with more trustworthy provenance. The sessions also focus on adding resilience, trust, and speed through better architecture, design, and planning.

Four trends in digital infrastructure

Hewitt sees several major trends filling the agendas for CIOs, managers, and staff.


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First, the teams will be increasingly called to use “just-in-time infrastructure,” like cloud machines and edge-hosted functions, to deliver computing when it’s needed. Instead of investing heavily in on-premises machinery, I&O teams can tap the ease of deploying into on-demand cloud hardware.

Second, the next generation of AI-powered management systems will make it easier for I&O teams to respond quickly to shifts in demand. These new tools are custom-built to support I&O tasks, like tracking virtual machines, APIs, storage, and more. Many common jobs, like responding to spiking demand, can either be automated or made simple enough to require only minimal manual attention.

Third, I&O teams will be called to make more complex decisions about data retention and data destruction in an environment where rules for compliance and user privacy compete. The next generation of IoT devices are producing more data than ever before, and the smartest organization will find ways to retain the right bits that the user must have, while tossing aside the data that is worthless or carefully destroying sensitive records. “I&O workforces need to work closely with their chief data officer to expand data literacy and effectively support data management across the enterprise,” said Hewitt.

Finally, Gartner predicts that the I&O world will need to grow as it assumes more responsibilities for essential assets. Many new companies claim to be “digital native,” and much of their core business success depends upon getting the infrastructure right.

Data management is a business need

Good teams will curate both data and the skills to manage it correctly. The world of data storage is rapidly changing, and teams will need to manage an increasingly complex environment. While the operations team was once responsible only for keeping backup copies, they are now building out complex data ecosystems that support a wide range of reporting and analytical capabilities. Many of the first and best applications for new AI algorithms are found in these large data collections, and the I&O team must step up to the job of understanding their capabilities, as they’re often the ones who must deliver running solutions that produce actionable insights.

“Technical skills’ shelf life is shortening,” said Hewitt. “As the I&O function is asked to provide more business justification for what they do, organizations are looking for I&O new hires to have business backgrounds rather than strictly technical degrees.”

The virtual conference runs through Wednesday.

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