5 min read

Thoughts from Gartner Symposium 2016

By Steve Pao on October 27, 2016

#GartnerSYMI attended Gartner Symposium the week after our company emerged from stealth. We spent three years focused on R&D and servicing our pre-launch customers, so we wanted to ensure that our focused mission was still resonating with broader discussions happening at the CIO and senior IT executive levels. The good news is that we believe our timing is even better now than it was three years ago when we started!

Overall, a big theme at the Gartner Symposium was how to navigate digitalization (not digitization) of business and the resulting disruption. For a quick explanation, "digitization" is extending the old paradigms in a digital world, such as the move from vinyl records to digitized compact discs (CD's). Through this change, the business of selling music stayed the same; just the format changed.  

"Digitalization," on the other hand is the transformation of businesses, such as the move from selling copies of music media (CD's and iTunes) to the world of selling subscriptions to music (e.g., Spotify). Uber and Airbnb were both frequently brought up as examples of "digitalized" businesses that disrupted the transportation and lodging industries.

From an IT perspective, many themes of digitalization at the conference centered around opportunities to gain new insights from big data, Internet of Things, and analytics, as well as unprecedented agility from True Cloud" infrastructure paradigms.

Here's just a quick summary of some of the narrative:

  • Data growth is staggering. We know it, but Gartner quantifies this as 27,445 exabytes by 2020.

    These kinds of trends were part of the motivation to start Igneous. Note here that the premise here is that the nature of the data changes, as it is comprised of large, unstructured data sets created by machines and analyzed by machines.
  • APIs implement business policies in the digital world.

    We couldn't agree more, and we have seen the need for infrastructures to be API-driven and automated.
  • A new set of paradigms have emerged for curating data - cloud-based, serverless, service-oriented, software-defined (API), and event-driven

    To describe this collection of paradigms, we use the term "data-centric" computing.  Kiran, our CEO, wrote a nice article about the emergence of data centric computing.
  • From an infrastructure perspective, there’s a discussion of "True Cloud" versus "Cloud Inspired" paradigms such as the so-called private cloud.

    It turns out that True Cloud is managing only 7% of workloads today.
  • The speed of Internet transfer limits getting data to the public cloud without help.

    Werner Vogels, CTO of Amazon Web Services, described their Snowball solution where data is trucked to Amazon.  Look at the picture of the truck in his slide!
  • The problems with machines generating data ("Internet of Things") is that there can be data staged across all parts of the network, particularly where Internet connections are too slow to collect all data centrally.

    Al Velosa of Gartner did a great presentation down at the Expo Hall describing the architecture where data might "live" down at the agent, the gateway, and/or the central platform. 

    This also hit main stage at Gartner Syposium.

    This is not just a vision at an analyst level.


Here in 2016, we know that most enterprises are still in the very early stages of the digitalization opportunities discussed at Gartner Symposium.  Still, it feels pretty clear that we're on the cusp of some major changes ahead, as digitalization entails a need for agility ("True Cloud") and an ability to curate very large data sets that often can't or won't move the public cloud ("Local Data"). This is why have been evangelizing "True Cloud for Local Data." We invite you on the journey with us!

(Disclaimer: These thoughts are my distillation of what I took away from the conference, not a Gartner endorsement of Igneous.  I did get permission from a conference organizer to tweet these pictures, and you'll notice that @Gartner_SYM even retweeted some of them!)


Steve Pao

Written by Steve Pao

Steve is CMO at Igneous. Prior to Igneous, Steve was an early executive through two IPOs – as VP of Product Management at Latitude Communications (now part of Cisco) and as SVP and GM of the Security Business at Barracuda Networks.

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