By Patrick Hubbard, Head Geek, SolarWinds

There is no denying that technology is driving change across every business sector. From streamlining business practices, to bolstering security and reducing costs, technology seems to be at the heart of most business decisions. In order to harness this technology and optimise performance in 2015, businesses should pay particular attention to issues which could stem from the cloud: the use of more applications and continued evolution of BYOD and the Internet of Things (IoT).

When it comes to the cloud, 2015 will no doubt be dominated by a combination of VM portability and hybrid clouds. Cisco's recent acquisition of MetaCloud will further drive the "cloud in a box" movement as well as pushing "the network" to mean a combination of network, storage, and virtual hypervisors. All of these aspects are relevant now, but combining them will be the real challenge.

As such, businesses will be forced to look at how they can support an increasingly complex network and how best to increase security and performance. New "cloud-of-cloud" providers, such as Hosting.com, will be evolved to serve market demand for reliable data centre cloud architectures. Similarly, the concept of "cloud-in-a-box" will hit mainstream, as vendors like VMware introduce their VSAN technology allowing SMBs to have SAN-like advantages without the hefty price tag. Businesses will need to invest in the right cloud technology and to do so, they will need to consider exactly what the corporate network needs in terms of agility, scalability and security before jumping on the band wagon.

It is safe to say that BYOD is now seen as the norm, with many businesses offering employees some kind of BYOD option. IoT – which promises all manner of efficiencies, personalisation and service – will become the next challenge, with a far wider range of devices attempting to access the corporate network.

Traditionally the best way to keep the network secure has been to limit access; however devices that would normally be outright refused access will have to be reassessed over the coming year. Business leaders will need to work with their IT teams to instil a whole new way of managing the network and set up a new IT use policy. IoT cannot be ignored, so smart managers will use 2015 as a year to set up new policies and procedures that will allow IoT devices to be used safely and securely in the workplace.

Finally, in an app-centric world, complete visibility of network performance is a no brainer for 2015. According to a recent end-user survey from SolarWinds, almost every UK employee reported that application performance and availability directly affect their ability to do their job. In fact, 44% of end users said it was absolutely critical to help accomplish their work. With this increasing pressure on IT Pros from the evolving expectations of end users, it’s more important than ever to consider performance as much as finances when it comes to compute, storage and networking technology, to avoid hassles later on.

With more and more UK businesses transitioning to the cloud, understanding the app centric environment is essential. By breaking down traditional IT silos and understanding how critical apps are becoming for business, IT Pros can transition into the full application stack view to truly optimise performance – not only for IT, but the business as a whole, readying the company, and the IT team, for whatever the future holds.