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December 19, 2012

Top IT Trends to Track in 2013

By startbutton

I’m passionate about IT.  My “job” doesn’t end when I leave work at 5 p.m., as I’m often reading blogs and tweets or playing with software and hardware on my own time. As the year wraps up, I like looking back on what grabbed my attention and what I have to anticipate in the months ahead.

In 2012…

A lot of things happened in 2012.  For starters, Microsoft updated just about everything!   The year began with SQL Server 2012 and System Center 2012. Then there was Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012, followed by Office, SharePoint, Lync and Exchange 2013.

The buzzword of the year was probably “cloud,” although “DevOps” was in the running for the first half of 2012. Now it seems everyone’s talking about “big data,” with even Microsoft noticing the amount of attention it’s getting.  The company is apparently developing some “in-memory” features for SQL Server v.Next and is currently working with big data leader Hortonworks to bring Hadoop to its Windows Azure service and also to Windows Server for in-house implementations.

Here’s a look at where these and other technologies may go in 2013.

DevOps vs. Cloud

DevOps seems to have been swallowed up by the cloud.  Think about it: The whole idea of DevOps is to synergize the work developers do as well as operations.  Take the whole concept of a “private cloud,” which Microsoft has been pushing for most of 2012.  If you don’t have end-to-end automation of services, you don’t really have self-service, and you don’t have a private cloud.  Whether it’s a public, hybrid or private cloud, you need automation or you will fail.

On the private cloud front, TrainSignal has a course coming soon on System Center 2012 Virtual Machine Manager.  If you’re interested in building a Microsoft-flavored private cloud, this is information you’ll want to know. This course will also help build the foundation you need to go for Microsoft’s recently announced the “MCSE: Private Cloud” certification.

Big Data and Linux

I was thinking earlier today about an argument I had with an architect at a past employer.  It went something like:

Architect: “We don’t have any budget for that.”

Me: “Let’s use Linux!”

Architect: “Absolutely not!  Who’s going to support it?”

Me: “I will.”

I didn’t win that round, but open-source won the fight.  Linux has been ready for the enterprise for several years, and is only gaining momentum.  Red Hat Linux just crossed the $1 billion in revenue mark in 2012!

As a matter of fact, the most common components of a big data implementation are based on Apache Hadoop, which is a completely open-source project written using the Java programming language.  Several companies are following Red Hat’s support model, offering services based on open-source software.  The most notable seem to be Cloudera and Hortonworks, but there are several other major players and some that are up-and-coming also.

As I mentioned briefly, Microsoft has partnered with Hortonworks to bring Hadoop to Windows.  I think that’s a good thing. If you have a support and development team with Windows expertise (Windows operating system and .NET programming), you’d want to leverage those skills if you’re looking at implementing (or building) big data solutions.


You can’t talk about the year ahead without looking at the current market leader in virtualization: VMware.  VMware had a lot going in this past year. It released version 5.1 of the platform, restructured pricing, and continued to innovate.  Now, the future will tell whether Windows Server 2012 is going to eat away a big chunk of VMware’s market share.  Microsoft is definitely up to the task with this OS version, but conversions aren’t cheap, and I don’t expect to see a lot of them.

Personally, I do my best to learn both the Microsoft and VMware offerings.  One can say a lot about the need to specialize, but I also like to keep my options open.  I know enough to get by with one of the vendors at my regular day job, but I make sure to try to learn about the other in my spare time.

As for VMware training, you can’t beat TrainSignal’s lineup of instructors.   Look for more material in 2013.

Some other things in the hopper that I’m looking forward to learning more about in 2013: NoSQL and Software Defined Networks (SDN) and Software Defined Datacenters.

My learning path never ends, and occasionally even forks more and more into the dark side: development.  One thing I’m betting on in the future: The line between IT pro and developer will be become more and more blurred.  Intermediate/senior administrators should begin to wonder about their futures in IT if they can’t see this coming and don’t try to embrace it.

The year ahead looks to be another amazing ride!

About the Author

is an IT consultant working in Canada. He has been working in the IT industry for over 12 years. He was awarded the Microsoft MVP award for his contributions to the Windows PowerShell community for 5 consecutive years (2007-2011). He has co-authored a book on Windows PowerShell, contributed to Microsoft Press and Microsoft TechNet magazine, and also contributed chapters for other books such as Microsoft System Center Operations Manager and Microsoft SQL Server. He has spoken at Microsoft TechDays in Canada and at TechMentor in the United States. He currently holds the GIAC GSEC and RHCE certifications, and is actively working on others.