London Financial Centre
London Financial Centre

Over the past few years, I’ve attended Gartner’s Data Center Conference in London (see 2013, 2014, and 2015 !). As always, it was a very informative couple of days with some surprises, and one or two “I knew that would happen” moments – we’ll I like to think that anyway.  Here are my top 5 observations – it’s not an exhaustive list, just what I found particularly interesting.

(1) Containers – and Is Your Network Ready

At conferences,  you can judge how “trendy” and/or (more importantly) how relevant topics are by the numbers of people attending particular sessions.  Containers were the #1 topic of interest using my un-scientific metric!  The question “Is your network ready for containers and hyper-converged” was a key question being discussed.

(2) SDN – At the “Trough of Disillusionment”

I’m not surprised.  Sorry SDN fans.  And there was only one or two sessions in the conference that had any significant SDN discussion (see my unscientific metric in #1 above!)  Too much of the SDN hype ignored business relevance and more than a few jumped on the hype bandwagon.  I blogged about my concerns back in 2013 and discussed the “hammer to crack a nut” approached being used by some vendors.  [If you are unfamiliar with Gartner’s “Hype Cycle” and associated terminology, see here for a definition.  Also check out the position of SDN in the networking hype cycle].

(3) Case Study of the Conference: Standard Life with Cognizant

I love real-life case studies, esp when the real challenges are openly acknowledged:  we all know projects never go 100% smoothly. I did have a laugh (sorry!) when the presenters (including a former colleague of mine) discussed how the unforeseen closure of the Forth Road Bridge in Scotland at the turn of this year led to a 6 week delay in their migration project.  “How?”, you may ask?  Well it turns out the team were reliant on a new fibre connection being put in for their new data center, and the Forth Road Bridge closure resulted in all roadworks (including digging cables in) being halted.   Ouch!

(4) DevOps: It’s About the Organizational Change

As expected, DevOps, a favourite topic of mine, was covered in a number of places.  ~from discussions, I can see that DevOps is delivering results in many organizations, but, according to one conference presentation, “80% of the risks associated with attaining DevOps program objectives will stem from how organizational change is managed”.  As is all to often usual, it’s not about the technology, it’s more about people and process.

(5) Is IoT a “Business Relevance” Opportunity for the IT Organization?

In my view Internet of Things (IoT) presents a huge opportunity for the IT function to be even more relevant to their business unit stakeholders. With the technical insights from IoT, there are transformation opportunities available to innovative organizations to exploit digital capabilities.  And there are opportunities for the IT function to drive that opportunity, with a combination of technical and business insights into what is possible and relevant for their business.  One example arose from a UK Police Force IT Manager.  The upcoming 4G-based Emergency Services Network (see video below) gives the opportunity to have digital “body cams” on each police officer.  However the data storage requirements (e.g. 50 years holding for evidence) could result in many more petabytes of storage being required for video captured, which is a challenge for their IT organization needs to plan for.

So what do you think?  What are your views on the above? Finally, if you were at the conference, or are attending next week’s US event, I’d love to hear what your top takeaways were.  You can find out more of my key takeaways by browsing my Twitter feed from the past week.



Stephen Speirs

SP Product Management

Cisco Customer Experience (CX)