3 lessons from the IPExpo Manchester

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If you didn’t get a chance to attend the IPExpo in Manchester last week, fear not. Andy Slater, our resident Cloud Infrastructure & Operations Specialist shares 3 key things he learnt at the event.

Just before the Bank Holiday break I spent an enjoyable day at the IP Expo in Manchester. The smaller, younger brother to the London event, which takes place later in the year, felt a bit more intimate (Manchester Central is a great venue but it may well outgrow the old Railway Terminal next year) and offered a bit less hustle and bustle to be able to have some good conversations on the trade show floor. With a range of interesting themes, speakers and exhibitors, I’d recommend IPExpo Manchester for any IT professional in the North West of England.

Here are some of the key takeaways I came home with:

Automation is key

That was the keynote message from IBM backed up by a number of exhibitors and the general feel within the IT market: automating as much as possible, faster than your peers is the key. IBM Watson is already changing the way customers interact with all kinds of business through automated chat bots and pop up recommendations while you’re browsing websites. Process automation and machine learning is helping businesses adjust the time their employees spend on thinking tasks instead of drudgery and administration. The next generation of automating change requests, password resets and 1st line support will change the way most users will engage with IT support but importantly speed up response times and the time it takes to close tickets for basic requests.

There were some interesting questions asked about the social implications for the workforce and robots stealing all of the jobs but we still have a long way to go before we’re in danger of a real life Skynet scenario.

Openstack Private Clouds – powerful but challenging

There’s lots of buzz about the power and versatility creating Private Cloud environments with Openstack but the consensus is that it’s a tough slog and to expect and plan for teething issues. There’s a strong Paddy Power case study with help from RedHat shifting a large number of API driven processes into the Cloud and Oracle have shifted a lot of their DevOps processes and test environments into an Openstack-based Private Cloud environment with continuing success.

The message from Oracle is that although it’s yet to be a true enterprise product, support from the likes of RedHat and Citrix and the hard work of a growing following of developers and engineers will help drive it there. There are a growing number of experts and consultancies out there who are driving things forward in the UK. This is reflected in the number of API specialists, Automation & DevOps Engineers and a clamour for Openstack experience to bolster IT teams.

Managed Service Support isn’t dead…

…It’s just slightly different! I’ve heard a lot of keynote speakers from both sides of the fence talking about the eventual death of outsourcing support but packaging work and managing specialist escalated support is very much alive. What is happening though is customers are shopping around and there is a whole ecosystem of niche providers who have partnership networks which enable them to cover gaps or provide complementary technologies. Their approach is based on quality of service and engagement not cost and as a result will continue to disrupt and remain relevant with agility that the industry giants are finding tough to keep up with.

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