IT Architecture Trends in 2021

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Corona has accelerated many digital developments in 2020. The IT architecture trends of 2021 are driven by the direct impact of corona, such as remote working, security concerns, and adapted IT infrastructures, as well as by indirect impacts, such as new digital business models, more available data, and more cloud users. This article provides an overview of my top 10 IT architecture trends for 2021.

1. Digital channels become standard in areas where they have not been beginning of 2020. Consequently, they need to scale massively. While this is easy for cloud architectures, dependent non-cloud architectures and processes need to be adapted.

2. For many companies, mobile workplaces and home office will stay standard even after the pandemic. IT infrastructures need to work smoothly and securely even with a highly increased number of remote workers. New digital collaboration tools for remote workshops, fresh ways to present content, coffee breaks, and team building will emerge and need to be incorporated into the application landscape.

3. The importance of data is further increasing. Customers get used to customized services provided by market leaders and competitors gain enhanced insights from newly collected data. All kind of data analytics, such as big data and machine learning requires IT architects to take care of efficient data pipelines, including data ingestion methods, storage, processing, and transformation.

4. The impact of politics on company decisions increases: Especially Chinese and American companies need to deal with accusations of data privacy breaches, back doors, or other kinds of security threats. Companies need to address this with regional and secure architectures.

5. The quantity and quality of cyber security threats and attacks increases exponentially. IT architects must emphasize security concerns on all layers and enhance regular security improvements.

6. Data privacy concerns and regulations are still important. Regulations such as GDPR will further slow down the overall digitalization in some countries. Data privacy by design and GDPR readiness needs to be considered by every IT architect early-on in a project.

7. Technology lifecycles shorten further, impacting required skills and software releases. Both will be provided in smaller units and with more regular updates.

8. More digital platforms will emerge, such as for used car sales, engineers, hairdresser, and all other kinds of products and services. Companies will focus on building own ecosystems for the customers, providing unique experiences and values. At the same time, however, platforms that became very powerful (e.g. Amazon, Google, Facebook, Alibaba) will get more attention by regulators and politics that seek to reduce their power and influence.

9. The transformation towards cloud is still a top trend. Many new companies emerge that provide specialized cloud native services. Companies address the threat of a cloud vendor lock-in by implementing multi-cloud solutions. The management of such multi-cloud environments will be of a top priority for IT architects in 2021.

10. Due to the size of many cloud transformations, a lack of skills and quality emerged. Lift and shift migrations, easy availability of premium services, and a lack of cloud cost understanding leads to inefficient operations. IT architects need to address cloud IT cost management across their organizations.

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