Veeam predicts that 2015 will see fundamental changes across the IT industry, driven by end-users demanding 24/7 access to data and applications, with recovery times of minutes, not hours and days.

The year 2014 will be remembered for many events such as Facebook’s 10th birthday and its now-famous A Look Back 60-second video clips, 40% of the world’s population enjoying unfettered Internet access, and history being made on 12 November when the Rosetta spacecraft and Philae lander successfully landed on the Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko with the European Space Agency streaming live images.

These events illustrate how we rely on technology and how IT is pivotal to the way we consume and interact with information for business and personal use. With users demanding content 24/7 from wherever they may be on the planet, the pressure being placed on today’s IT infrastructure has never been greater. But what does 2015 have in store? What will users expect of IT in the next 12 months? How will the industry respond?

Warren Olivier, regional manager of southern Africa at Veeam Software, outlines the top technology trends for 2015:

* The always-on business will become the norm across the globe: In 2015 the demand for immediacy will accelerate and will be pivotal across many levels – users will continue to demand unfettered access to applications and data 24/7 from wherever they may reside, but this demand will accelerate as device innovation progresses and the roll-out and proliferation of higher speed networks (4G, LTE, 5G and so on) continues. In 2013 the mobile app market was worth almost $27-billion and this is set to grow to more than $76-billion by 2017. Business users will have even more aggressive requirements for ubiquitous access to applications and data than consumers, and this pressure will drive IT leaders to re-think their availability models. Network agility and reliability will come under the spotlight as virtualisation continues to gather momentum, but availability will become a strategic concern to business leaders. Legacy attitudes will change – no longer will recovery time or point objectives (RTO or RPO) of hours or days be acceptable – instead, IT will be expected to deliver RTPO of minutes. Status quo thinking will need to evolve and the move to the always-on business will gather momentum. Companies that embrace this will flourish, but some organisations will fail to recognise this trend and we may see a number of high-profile availability disasters in the next 12 months.

* Data explosion continues to accelerate: Data volumes will continue to explode over the next few years (some thinking it will be as much as 400 zettabytes by 2018). This data explosion is characterised by the Internet of Things with analysts predicting that by 2020 there will be 26-billion connected devices generating and consuming data. Regardless of where data is generated, businesses are investing heavily in data storage, analysis and retrieval. Organisations will make new investments and leverage existing modern data centres to manage their exploding data footprint during 2015 and this trend will gather momentum. Having a strategy for data classification will be vital over the next 12 to 24 months. It will be up to business leaders to determine what data to keep and what to discard; what data is appropriate for cloud storage and what to keep on-premises. As data grows exponentially, keeping absolutely everything will present a real and impossible challenge.

*Cloud, cloud, cloud: The last two years has seen cloud adoption evolve. Businesses are beginning to embrace the cloud to increase agility while reducing cost and complexity. Yet concern remains over application and data security and availability. The introduction of cloud platforms such as Microsoft Azure and VMware vCloud Air show how far cloud services have matured with accelerated growth predicted in 2015 of on-premises services that share workload with those hosted in the cloud. Disaster recovery and availability solutions will be offered through the cloud as a service with data being reliably streamed to hosting providers for fast and effective recoveries. This will enable businesses to increase data availability, ensure the 3-2-1 rule of data protection, and also offer additional revenue streams for service providers (fuelled by innovative vendor programs that will facilitate cloud-based business strategies). 2015 will be the year when cloud continues to grow, with disaster recovery in the cloud moving from early adopters to early majority, but overall, cloud will begin to coalesce.

* Endpoint protection and management under the microscope: Over the past few years there’s been significant investment in overall data centre infrastructure, virtualisation technologies and availability solutions. Many businesses believe the modern data centre should be highly virtualised. But few recognise that unlike servers, endpoints will always remain physical and need to be highly available as well. While the endpoint protection industry is growing at a steady pace (CAGR of 5% through 2018) little attention is paid to securing the lifeblood of many businesses; namely, the hardware devices that sit in the hands of users. This will change in 2015. IT will realise that after years of investing in protecting the data centre, attention needs to swing to endpoint protection. Vendor innovation in device form factor and protection solutions will fuel this sea change and endpoints will finally get the enterprise-grade protection the applications and data that sit on them deserve.

* The ‘Internet of Things’ becomes a reality… and IT will need to wake up to this fact: IDC forecasts the worldwide market for the Internet of Things (IoT) solutions will grow from $1.9-trillion in 2013 to $7.1-trillion in 2020. Such is the appetite for IoT that more than two-thirds of consumers plan to buy connected technology for their homes by 2019, and nearly half plan to buy wearable technology. While the IoT has been high on the media agenda for a while, it seems users are now beginning to accept it and vendors are delivering solutions that deliver on its promise. This will cause IT departments immense problems over the next 12-24 months. Service reliability and availability will be paramount. Users will expect always-on services and IT will be under scrutiny to deliver. Failure to do so will cost businesses dearly. With cost of downtime already into six figures per hour, downtime in the IoT era could be far costlier. 2015 will be the year where we’ll see IT step up to the plate and embrace availability, or it will be the year where we’ll see businesses fall on their swords. Only time will tell.