With the new year in full swing, the time to concentrate on enterprise technology has arrived to analyse the expectations we have of the industry. We can conclude there is a trend towards a multi-cloud approach that keeps evolving. Businesses use a multi-cloud approach to enhance their cloud strategy to transform their enterprise in innovative ways. In this analysis, we look at the predictions of: cloud, apps, security and everything else related, through the multi-cloud environment lens. I’ll share my own prediction near the end of this post, along with one from a customer.
“Blockchain technology seems to be the focus when it comes to production in major financial institutions” — Kit Colbert, CTO, VMware.
Today’s multi-party enterprise workflows are fragmented and highly complex to maintain. This causes delays, increased costs, and hindered innovation. Workflow data is often siloed within the enterprise — resulting in inefficient and costly steps to share and reconcile data across boundaries. This is where blockchain/digital ledger technology (DLT) enters the picture. While trendy cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) which are also built on blockchain capture memes and headlines, blockchain is quietly making waves in the enterprise driving real productivity. Blockchain’s real power lies in how it enables multiple parties to work together on a shared trustworthy source of data, fully and securely digitizing transactions. Maturing technologies, new delivery models, adoption of standards and the energy of an extensive and vibrant ecosystem are accelerating enterprise adoption. In 2022, we’re going to see the value of enterprise blockchain becoming increasingly clear, as well as strong acceleration in production deployments across many industries (such as supply-chain use cases, for example), fundamentally changing the nature of doing business across organisational boundaries. In the financial services industry, it is already meeting customers’ needs for high-frequency, complex business operations. There will be even broader enterprise blockchain adoption in 2022 and we’ll see major financial institutions deploy blockchain technology in production.
“The emergence of a cloud-agnostic federated data fabric will enable customers to mitigate data gravity as a key inhibitor to successfully operationalising a multi-cloud architecture.”
— Marc Fleischmann, cloud CTO, VMware.
Most companies have already identified solutions for application portability across clouds (although some environments are more conducive to app migration than others). Data portability, however, remains the big challenge — and data is the fuel that propels apps. Traditional storage systems cannot deliver a cloud-like experience. They are defined by fixed hardware boundaries that confine resources. This results in trapped data, stranded capacity, limited scalability and elasticity, complex placement decisions, and high sunrise and sunset costs. The industry’s march towards the multi-cloud/zettabyte era will only exacerbate these limitations. In the next two years, we will see the emergence of a cloud-agnostic federated data fabric, which will enable organisations to mitigate data gravity as a key inhibitor to successfully operationalising a multi-cloud architecture.
“Threat actors will leverage stolen credentials to pull off a double-extortion ransomware attack against a Fortune 500 company. And the tech industry will rise to meet such challenges.” — Tom Gillis, SVP and general manager of networking and advanced security business group, VMware.
As organisations implement network segmentation to stop the spread of ransomware, attackers have begun to leverage trusted credentials to move freely throughout the network. With a valid set of credentials, attackers can accomplish much of their nefarious activity without raising a single alarm.
Some of the stealthiest credential attacks use native, authorised tools like PowerShell to gain access by appearing as legitimate activity. Once an attacker can move laterally across an organisation’s network, they have the “keys to the kingdom” and can access sensitive customer information and corporate proprietary data.
Enter the double-extortion ransomware attack, in which an attacker quietly exfiltrates this sensitive information before encrypting a victim’s files and threatening to make sensitive data public. This ensures financial gain for cybercriminals who force organisations to not only pay to decrypt their files, but to prevent harmful data from being sold or publicly disclosed.
While ransomware attacks like Kaseya and Colonial Pipeline made the nightly news this year, threat actors will take this one step further in 2022. We will see a major corporation experience a double-extortion ransomware attack as a result of stolen credentials.
The good news is that we can expect a cadre of tech companies, the open-source community, academia, cybersecurity institutions and government agencies around the world unite to meet this challenge. We’ve done it before, and we will do it again.
“2022 will be the year of the Kubernetes API server.” — Ajay Patel, general manager of modern apps and management, VMware.
We will see the emergence of tools that bring the Kubernetes (K8s) patterns to new domains —solving new problems and changing the intersection of development, security, and operations practices. K8s has proven to be successful for containerised infrastructure, but its embedded ideas have broader applicability. We will see an increasing number of systems (build systems, infrastructure management, and federated application-control planes) leverage the manifest-based model popularised by K8s. This will mean a transition to a manifest-based approach and will mark a shift from imperative DevSecOps practices to the consumption of intent-driven services that apply a declarative approach to management. This will lead to something of an inversion of IT — moving from systems that try to make sense of what is running and provide APIs to change what is running, to systems that consume manifests that represent intended state and then allow for reconciliation of actual state with intended state. This will allow them to tackle challenges in areas like AI/ML, stream-based processing, app integration and other areas without having to make significant ‘full stack’ investments in platforms.
“Password-less authentication will become a “must-have” to avoid attacks.” — Brian Madden, technologist, end user computing, VMware.
One of the major trends we predict in the end-user computing space is the broad adoption and general acceptance of password-less authentication — something we believe is a “must-have” moving forward. Most attacks can be avoided by using stronger methods of authentication.
Password-less authentication is a type of multifactor authentication that replaces the user’s password with a different factor (typically a client-side certificate unlocked via biometrics). This would allow users to authenticate to corporate resources from a fingerprint or face scan throughout the course of a day, rather than having to remember a constantly rotating password or using an authenticator app.
Finally, we see 2022 as the year where VPNs start to die off in huge numbers. During the course of the pandemic, companies realised that VPNs were one of their most vulnerable areas. They did not provide sufficient security for remote users who required broad access to the corporate network. Micro-perimeters, real-time security posture checks, and the wide availability of SASE offerings will be VPNs’ successors.
Netherlands Cancer Institute
“Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) will influence the way we conduct cancer research in the coming years, especially in the areas of big data and imaging.” — Roel Sijstermans, IT manager, Netherlands Cancer Institute
A key area of focus will be applying AI and ML to cancer recognition through imaging and research models. It can support the automatic analysis of medical images for decision support of healthcare providers, as well as the analysis of cells to better understand the origin of cancer.
To support researchers in conducting their work, we need a capable infrastructure for a wide variety of workloads. It must be a scalable and secure environment that supports data exchange with other institutions. We must work together to amplify our impact. Network virtualisation, containerisation, and sharing a single platform with workload isolation are all technologies we hope to leverage in the coming years.
These new technological possibilities will allow researchers to work more flexibly and safely to help make our mission — a cure for every cancer — a reality in the near future.