New cloud technologies are in your hands to drive business strategy
Today’s data center architect has more choices and features to understand and select from than ever before. In the past decade, we have seen the emergence of multiple converged infrastructure designs, private cloud technologies and open source platforms – but even these modern approaches are becoming outdated as solutions such as hyper converged infrastructures (HCI) and public cloud gain momentum. However, these changes bring opportunity. IT now has the real ability to become a business enabler instead of just an operations center.
Historically, IT has been considered a cost center and more or less a means to an end. Companies know they need technology to be competitive, but typically do not look to IT for business strategy leadership and new ideas. But as the global marketplace has evolved, organizations must respond more rapidly to changing market conditions, produce products at a faster pace, and embrace new ways of connecting with their customers through mobility, big (and small) data and the Internet of Things (IoT). We naturally see this in companies born in the cloud, including Airbnb, Uber and Fitbit, but companies that are sometimes not thought of as “high tech” are producing new and innovative ways of showing value to their clients.
Take for example John Deere, recognized worldwide as a leader in farm and commercial equipment. Manufacturers such as this are viewed as engineering leaders but not always as leaders in digital technology. However, John Deere identified an opportunity to provide connectivity between its equipment, owners, operators and dealers to provide more efficient crop management, and reduce operating expenses and fleet downtime. These solutions came from an integration of IoT technologies, big data analytics and public cloud services.
So what does this mean for IT leaders today? IT has to shift its mindset from thinking about maintaining the status quo and “keeping the lights on” to how technology can drive the company’s business. IT leaders can answer this question by considering:
- How can the products/services my company produces be delivered to our clients more effectively?
Whether you are providing online reservations, ride sharing, or industrial manufacturing, modern technologies enable your business to connect with your clients. Ask questions like, how can big data analytics reduce product failures? How can I deliver real-time services to my clients through mobile-enabled apps? How can automation and robotic processing improve my time to market?
- Why do I have data centers?
While this may seem like an elementary question with an obvious answer, the reality is that there are a number of reasons why we should be asking this question. Data centers are terribly expensive, both in terms of real estate and operational costs, and they may not always meet your needs for data location, disaster recovery and scalability. When there are options to use private cloud technologies and co-location facilities to provide the same or better data center capabilities at a lower capital and operational expense, then IT can begin getting out of the facilities business and start focusing on delivering true business value.
- Why do I still have client/server apps?
Sure, there are mission- and business-critical apps that are not going away anytime soon, but there are many applications that have cloud-delivered, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) alternatives. By shifting your legacy apps to cloud-hosted versions, you can reduce your data center footprint, enable your modern workforce and end-user clients, and provide the ability to support a number of different device types.
- How can I manage and secure my data center more effectively?
As you distribute workloads and data across traditional data centers, co-location facilities and public cloud services, the ability to apply standard policies, controls and services in all of these environments is necessary. But, by doing so you can now proactively respond to your business demands in real-time. You will be able to use auto-scaling features of public cloud providers to expand your application footprint when traffic increases and shrink it back when the demands subside. You can also place workloads in data center facilities that are closer to your end users and clients, so their response times are improved and satisfaction rates go up, as well as provide reports showing how all of your assets meet or exceed desired security and compliance policies.
- Public cloud services are probably being used in my company without my knowledge, why am I not as well?
Public cloud services such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and IBM/SoftLayer provide not only platforms for DevOps projects, but also for production workloads of many types. By putting the tools, processes and people in place to integrate your private, public and hybrid cloud environments, you can begin to embrace cloud usage in your organization and shift to modern data center approaches.
How has your organization embraced modern data center options? How have you used new technologies to drive your business? We would like from hear from you and what has worked for you and even the challenges you have faced. Please share your thoughts and experiences below.