Staying on top of the managed IT services business requires knowing the latest, greatest trends and practices in computing. Here's a recap of the innovations shaping the IT world today.

Being familiar with these trends is important for two reasons. First, this knowledge helps you provide the best services to customers -- and answer their questions authoritatively when they ask about tech buzzwords they've heard recently.

Second, you may be able to benefit by adopting some of these technologies and practices for your own business.

Today's Trends

Here are the major trends worth knowing today:

  • DevOps. The DevOps concept has been around since the late 2000s. Today, it has gone mainstream, and is even becoming common in large enterprises (which tend to be the last place where new trends hit, because enterprises have entrenched workflows that are hard to change). DevOps is not a technology but an approach to software production that emphasizes constant collaboration between everyone across the organization - from developers and admins to quality assurance teams and even groups like HR - in creating and maintaining software.
  • Blockchain. Blockchain distributed databases -- which spread information across a large network and use consensus, rather than a centralized authority, to maintain an accurate record of transactions -- are reshaping not just the way financial transactions take place online, but also the way identities are confirmed, data stored and much more.
  • Serverless computing. Also sometimes called on-demand computing, the serverless computing model allows apps and users to run code on servers in the cloud and pay only for what they use. It's called "serverless" not because there are no servers involved, but because the users don't have to maintain the servers in any way. Serverless computing raises the efficiency of cloud computing to a new level. The most well known serverless platform is AWS Lambda, but many others are now popping up.
  • Containers and microservices. You've probably heard of Docker containers by now. Docker offers a range of benefits for MSPs and lots of other groups, too. But the important thing to recognize about the container trend is that it doesn't end with Docker. Other types of containers and microservices -- like system containers, which allow you to host a complete operating system inside a container (a different use case than the one for which Docker was designed), and unikernels, which have important applications for embedded computing, the cloud and beyond -- are also poised to redefine the way we compute.
  • Internet of Things. You have probably also heard of the Internet of Things by now. Actually, the term Internet of Things has been around since the late 1990s, and the concept is arguably even older. But in many ways, the IoT is just taking off. The IoT devices of today can do things like control the heat in your house and turn a traffic light on and off, but Internet-connected hardware is still the exception, not the norm. In the future, the opposite will be true as the IoT conquers every corner of homes, offices and infrastructure.
  • Cognitive computing. For the past fifty years, we have used computers mostly to process information that we give to them. Programming computers to do what we want has been up to us. The cognitive computing community aims to change that by creating computers that can anticipate what people want, and do it for them, without being asked. While in some senses this is traditional Artificial Intelligence, or AI, cognitive computing takes things further by leveraging big data and predictive analytics to understand human behaviors and thoughts.

To be sure, this list could go on.

The IT world is always changing, and it's impossible to list every trend out there worth watching. But this is a start.