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Blue Chip's Top 5 To Watch

Posted 29 March 2016 by Kelvin Papp

As we progress through 2016, we’re starting to see the outputs of some of the announcements and predictions made by the industry towards the end of last year. It’s fair to say that every vendor out there wants to be cutting-edge and at the forefront of innovation, but what should we really be looking forward to as we go through this year amongst all of the theory and vapourware?

Many of the vendors we engage with have planned (and in some cases, recently announced) launches which we’re excited about. Here’s a brief rundown of the top 5 that we think you should be paying attention to in the coming months…

More Cloud

Yes, not a “product”… but a word that’s been on the lips of the industry as a whole for a number of years and an area that continues to develop at a rapid pace. We’re seeing consistent growth and interest in both full and cloud Infrastructure as a Service deployments, driven to a large extent by the gap that’s left through the gradual transition of applications to a Software as a Service model. Confidence is also a key factor - as service offerings mature from both private hosting providers like ourselves and from industry giants like Microsoft and Amazon, the justifications for holding back fall away.

Windows Server 2016

Perhaps one of the more obvious candidates for this list, Windows Server 2016 will be a big deal for many organisations. As smaller businesses transition away from Small Business Server and larger organisations look to upgrade, it’s inevitable that the next edition of Windows Server will be in the mix. A Q3 release is still anticipated, and from what we’ve seen in the Technical Previews there’s something for everyone – Nano Server, Containers, and a raft of improvements to Hyper-V amongst other changes including the (less popular) transition to a per-processor-core license model.

Citrix XenApp 7.8

Something of a cheat in that this reflects a product already released (albeit only a few weeks ago)... but given the significance of the upgrade it would be remiss not to make mention of it. XenApp 7.8 is the most major release since the transition from IMA to FMA in 7.5, and highly likely to be one of the biggest Citrix launches of 2016. This update see’s the introduction of AppDisk Technology (supporting application management independently from the OS), App-V integration, multiple improvements to graphics performance through Framehawk & HDX 3D Pro, and incorporates the raft of changes that came in 7.7 including PVS support for Windows 10, Skype for Business optimisation, and (thankfully!) the return of XenApp zones.

SQL Server 2016

Not quite as exciting as Windows Server, but nonetheless SQL 2016 will be significant for many as the next milestone in the life of SQL Server. Currently Release Candidate 1 with no firm shipping date, SQL 2016 touts improved security in the form of “Always Encrypted” – a mechanism for ensuring data encryption for data in transit, at rest, and in use, which ties nicely with the announcement that “Stretch Databases” will be supported, providing automated movement of database tables between an on-premise SQL instance and Azure SQL (there’s that Cloud reference again!). AlwaysOn is also the target of some improvements including support for DTC and up to 3 synchronous replicas in automatic failover mode for the most demanding workloads.

The Year of Flash?

Flash Storage has come a long way. Just a few short years ago the concept of SSDs becoming commoditised would have been laughable; they were the preserve of the Enterprise and out of reach for most from both a cost and justification perspective. Fast forward to 2016 though, and here we are with an array of use cases and deployment methodologies that are becoming increasingly affordable and (dare I say it) “typical”. There are extremes – the all-flash array for example is still in its relative infancy, but as costs fall and support broadens (as is the case with EMC for example, who recently relaxed rules around the types of SSD that can be used across their FAST suite of technologies in VNX), it’s increasingly common to see them deployed across a variety of industries. Whether it’s a case of maximising performance or mitigating the risk of a storage bottleneck, there’s never been a better time to look at what Flash storage may be able to offer.

So, there you have it… the top 5 things we think you should keep an eye on over the coming few months.

For more information, or to discuss any area in more detail please email to arrange a consultation with one of our experts.

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