7 Trends Driving Compute Infrastructure Innovation

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According to a recent survey, 69% of boards responded to COVID-19 by accelerating digital activities, while 60% chose to improve operational excellence through digital activities.

Transformations that would normally have taken decades have been executed by I&O in weeks and months, allowing businesses to continue operating during lockdown while scaling the distributed enterprise, which uses digital capabilities to support hybrid workers and remote locations, and provides services to remote consumers. and in person. The distributed enterprise is fueling the need for compute to be available in more locations and environments than ever before.

I&O is now in a position to build on the momentum of its high-profile achievements throughout the pandemic and capitalize on business leaders’ realization that IT is fundamental to business operation. , and not just another cost center. As such, they must address chronic issues such as technical debt, siled infrastructure services, and insufficient skills and resources.

Legacy technology, outdated processes, and fragile workflows are certainly not helping bring organizations to the desired future state of delivering compute platforms everywhere: on-premises, at the edge, in colocation and in the cloud.

The following seven trends and technologies are expected to help organizations drive innovation within their compute infrastructure and achieve the desired future state.

Sustainability and energy efficiency technology

Organizations are driven by customers and investors to deliver sustainable solutions and this technology is seen as essential, with the majority already investing in IT for their sustainability programs. For I&O leaders, this means introducing a strategy to reduce their organization’s carbon footprint (i.e. greenhouse gas emissions), water consumption, use of resources and electronic waste management in data centers.

Building on their company’s focus on becoming purpose-driven by supporting a broader set of business and societal goals, such as sustainability, I&O helps build a growth trajectory robust to current market conditions.

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Cloud sustainability, carbon footprint measurement, and advanced network management software are the three emerging environmental sustainability technologies that will see rapid mainstream adoption within one to three years.

By 2025, 75% of I&O leaders will be tasked by senior management to contribute to the company’s sustainability goals, and 25% will have metrics related to sustainable progress, particularly carbon neutrality.

quantum computing

While the true potential of quantum computing (QC) remains a decade away, there is enough progress in the field to warrant I&O exploring quantum techniques to solve business problems. Quantum is another opportunity for I&O to become a center of innovation rather than just a maintainer of legacy systems.

I&O should focus on two specific areas within the quantum:

  1. Develop skills in quantum computing
  2. Enable business units, through quantum computing working groups, to centralize and focus exploratory investments

Gartner expects more than a third of large enterprises to design quantum initiatives to build management skills ahead of QC opportunities over the next three years.

Designing early quantum computing initiatives will create new QC champions who are equipped to navigate a rapidly changing quantum ecosystem. In fact, by 2025, 25% of large enterprises will deliver an evolutionary advantage over their non-quantum counterparts through quantum-inspired initiatives.

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Artificial intelligence

As they move into the mainstream of compute infrastructure, high-performance computing (HPC) and artificial intelligence (AI) are two new areas that infrastructure teams need to prioritize to ensure delivery optimized computing infrastructure. Once thought of as required only for specialized needs, HPC is now mainstream for many organizations. Likewise, the compute infrastructure for AI must become a core I&O capability. Due to the self-service nature of AI and HPC solutions, they are a powerful test bed for automating provisioning and delivering an immutable compute infrastructure.

I&O will use AI to enable many of the efficiencies that will achieve the other aspects of this roadmap. By leveraging AI for hyper automation, I&O teams can be freed up to deliver the innovation and accelerated digital transformation needed to meet business needs.

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Additionally, the creation of AI-generated compute and networking infrastructure digital twins allows change events to be verified against a model of the existing environment, making changes more robust and reliable and freeing up more I&O resources.

Immutable infrastructure

Immutable infrastructure is a process model that is never updated once the system and application infrastructure is deployed to production. Instead, when changes are needed, infrastructure and applications are simply replaced from the development pipeline.

Threats such as ransomware create a need for the infrastructure to be immutable down to the server and network firmware levels. The result is an improved security posture with fewer vulnerabilities and faster resolution time when new issues are identified.

By providing the underlying systems in an automated and immutable way, I&O can simply reimage any system so that it is identical to its previous configuration and guaranteed to be infection-free. This will result in requirements for the immutable storage of gold images and the processes needed to keep them up to date.

Confidential computing and secure systems

As data privacy and security requirements proliferate across the globe, I&O must embed the concepts of privacy and security into everything it does. All I&O staff should have a basic understanding of key security requirements and be fully familiar with technologies such as confidential computing, which protect data running on third-party systems.

Confidential computing can alleviate one of the biggest barriers to cloud adoption for highly regulated enterprises or any organization concerned about unauthorized third-party access to data used in the public cloud.

It also enables a level of data privacy between competitors, data processors, and data analysts that is very difficult to achieve with traditional cryptographic methods. I&O personnel who understand secure systems that use cryptographic signature techniques will be in a better position to ensure that firmware, hypervisors, and operating systems are not compromised.

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New interconnected system

AI and HPC will drive the need for higher performance accelerators and new input/output (I/O) and memory solutions. Over the next two years, PCIe 5.0 and the Computer Express Link (CXL) interconnect will provide the ability to create new architectures for computing infrastructure based on a switched PCIe 5.0 fabric. This is again a scenario where HPC and AI will be the testbed for these solutions, allowing I&O to assess the capabilities and use cases of enterprise solutions.

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Memory Prioritization

As CXL connected memory becomes available, a method to aggregate tiers of different memory types such as DRAM, PMEM, and NVMe in a cost effective manner will be needed.

Memory tiering software will allow applications to transparently access memory across multiple tiers, with differing performance characteristics, to enable extremely large memory footprints in a cost-effective manner. I&O managers need to assess which compute platforms will benefit from such technology and how it can be implemented.

Together, these technologies will help I&O teams deliver compute platforms comprised of deployed-everywhere systems and modernized legacy systems that can be integrated into a composable enterprise design. Business units will also come to see the resilience of the compute infrastructure as a key differentiator, where I&O acts as an advisor to the business and is relied upon to design cost-effective strategies and enable rapid recovery in the event of operational failure. .

Black and white photo of Tony Harvey.
Tony Harvey

Tony Harvey is senior research director at Gartner and covers a variety of infrastructure topics.


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