What does a New Year’s resolution look like for an IT organization? While individuals usually target goals like losing weight, advancing their careers or kicking habits such as eating junkfood, companies instead look to shore up their budgets and competitive positions via improved collaboration, superior information management and a more up-to-date IT infrastructure.

But these resolutions are easier made than kept. According to U.S. News & World Report, 80 percent of them fail each year by February. For companies, keeping any commitment to more streamlined operations requires working with an experienced partner like LaSalle Solutions.

With the right guidance, organizations can find ideal IT solutions — as well as the supporting technical and financial services — for navigating a sea of rapidly changing business technologies.

So, what tech should today’s enterprises and SMBs keep their eyes on in 2018? There are many candidates, but a few really stand out:

Blockchain

Bitcoin is a patchwork of many different components, all designed to support a clearing system independent of traditional banks, but its most famous piece by far is blockchain. A distributed ledger transparent to every participant on the network, blockchain has some possible use cases outside of cryptocurrencies.

For example, an organization might set up a blockchain to help track the provenance and current locations of freight shipments or corporate computing devices. Benefits would include transparent, tamper-proof updates (since blockchains by definition are immutable), along with possible synergies with cloud-based information management tools such as LAMP.

The intersection of blockchain, cloud and the Internet of Things (IoT) should be a major area of interest for IT vendors in 2018 and beyond. Buyers should consider how blockchain-based solutions might aid in the simplification of quintessentially complex processes (e.g., paying suppliers) and whether it can complement their existing automated/cloud systems.

 

Cloud to the Edge/Fog Computing

As the name implies, cloud computing is usually something that happens far away from a company’s premises, in a data center. IT research firm Gartner thinks that cloud services could move much closer to customer infrastructures in 2018, as part of a trend it dubbed “cloud to the edge.”

The “edge” refers to the user-controlled clients within an organization’s networks that exchange data with the cloud. Cloud to the edge entails redesigning network architectures so that content collection and delivery, processing power and bandwidth are much closer to end users. Cisco has promoted a similar principle as fog computing, which is supported by the OpenFog Consortium and specifically touted for its applications in IoT.

Such setups are essentially decentralized clouds harnessing the power of IT resources closer to company offices instead of ones in faraway facilities, hence the “edge” and “fog” labels. Accordingly, they can curb latency and support innovations in blockchain and IoT, but only with suitable network infrastructures including switches, routers and servers. IT refresh programs in tandem with LAMP can help you stay on top of asset maintenance and lifecycle management to ensure you get the most out of cloud services going forward.

 

Security Patches

Patches aren’t often thought of as “technologies” in the same sense as the others discussed here, but they’ll probably be more important to IT organizations in 2018 than in any year in recent memory. The revolutionary Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities expose virtually every unpatched CPU in existence to exploitation that could result in stolen crypto-keys and passwords.

Many patches are already available, but they take a toll by creating additional overhead for x86 processors in particular. Software and hardware upgrades may be in order, not only to close security loopholes but to minimize such performance hits. Older pieces of IT equipment (in terms of their ages and most recent updates) are naturally more vulnerable to cyberattacks and frequently less dependable than newer ones, and this will still be true even after Meltdown/Spectre fade from view.

The right partner changes everything when it comes to ensuring your operations are secure, up-to-date and scalable. LaSalle is your guide in this fast-evolving technological landscape.

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