Part 2: Driving digital: What infrastructure agility means

Part 2: Driving digital: What infrastructure agility means

In part 1 of this blog series, I looked at the key features of new IT infrastructure – like hybrid cloud technology, bimodal IT and web-scale IT – and how it can be used to keep pace with the fast-evolving cloud industry. In this second blog on driving digital, I want to focus on why we need new innovations in IT development, how to establish some of the key features, and delve into what infrastructure agility really means. I also want to emphasise the relevance of innovation in IT infrastructure in terms of customer experience, revenue and overall business.

What does infrastructure agility mean?

There are some obvious factors that businesses always take into account when considering adding cloud services to their infrastructure, such as cost, performance, security and reliability. More and more often, however, CIOs and IT leaders are looking towards cloud scalability, elasticity and agility, to really bolster their computing capabilities and stay ahead of the competition.

Scalability deals with the changing need of an application within the infrastructure, by statically adding or removing resources according to the application demands. This can be through vertical scaling (scaling up) and/or horizontal scaling (scaling out). Elasticity matches allocated resources with actual amount of resources at any time point. Infrastructure agility is the ability to provide and scale the data centre infrastructure in line with the demands of the business, rapidly, as well as the meet the demands of Mode 2 of the bimodal IT model. Historically, IT infrastructure has been geared towards Mode 1, for resilience and repeatability, whereas Mode 2 focuses on agility, scalability and versatility. Guess which one is receiving the most attention?!

What infrastructure agility means to CIOs

CIOs will be looking towards enabling infrastructure agility for digital business success, and coming to terms with the bimodal split. There are pros and cons to the two modes, so CIOs will need to harness the advantages of both, and capitalise on this for business gain. Clear pros of moving data centres to the cloud are reducing operational and capital spending by keeping operations streamlined and fast, whilst cons include unforeseen infrastructure adaptation costs. CIOs need to manage business expectations, and will also need to identify which business requirements will need a high rate of change and rapid scalability.

What infrastructure agility means to IT leaders

IT leaders must factor in infrastructure agility, scalability and responsiveness when enabling digital business innovation. Realistically, moving a data centre to the cloud is challenging, and IT leaders are faced with aging data centres which must be adapted to new technology over time, so require flexible infrastructure options.

What are the operational aspects of the bimodal split? IT leaders need to consider this, and realise that Mode 1 infrastructure can limit Mode 2 flexibility and decisions. Mode 2 involves changes to organisational processes and skills, and influences IT planning, budgeting and procurement.

As part of the drive for faster, more responsive, agile and efficient IT systems, which can keep pace with data growth and application development, organisations are embracing hybrid cloud systems and software-defined storage. Where IT leaders have previously been sceptical of the public cloud, decision-makers are becoming more comfortable with hybrid cloud infrastructures, by using public cloud services in addition to more traditional on-site infrastructure. Hybrid cloud models are optimal for leveraging IT agility, and according to a global study by Vanson Bourne, participants reported having almost 40% of their infrastructure in the public cloud – a figure which is expected to rise to 70% over the next five years.

The decision-makers are changing in the digital era: application development and business development teams are more frequently taking the reins from IT leaders when it comes to IT infrastructure innovation. Splitting into many smaller teams is a great way to remain agile, especially for large organisations.

What infrastructure agility means to technical professionals

Ultimately, it’s down to the technical professionals to put into practice what the CIOs and IT leaders have planned. To establish an agile infrastructure, they need to embrace different data centre architecture solutions, like hyper-converged integrated systems, server-based storage, software-defined infrastructures and containers. The data centre modernisation initiatives need to support hybrid-cloud architectures: IT agility for the modern data centre has a direct effect on business agility, so IT is now the driver of business innovation.

The future of IT innovation

Modular data centres represent the future of IT infrastructure, as they provide adaptability, scalability and flexibility and directly correspond to operational cost savings. Clearly, savings are important, but one of the key features of leaner IT infrastructure and continuous innovation, is its impact on the customer experience. By providing intuitive, professional cloud services, business will be booming.

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