It might sound prosaic but a solid, well-planned IT infrastructure is a bit like having good plumbing. If the pipes don’t work, there’s little point in installing a state-of-the-art bathroom with marble tiles, a jacuzzi bath, and a power shower.
My point is that if your IT infrastructure has been installed piecemeal over time and is not fit for purpose, it’s unlikely to deliver transformational projects like multicloud, cyber resiliency or workforce transformation.
Objective-led IT investment fuels innovation
This bit-by-bit approach to IT investment can be due to the way businesses buy technology. When requests for proposals focus more on lowering cost than achieving a business or innovation objective, the result is often siloed systems that simply hold data rather than provide actionable business insight. And this starts to really matter as cycles of technology procurement layer on top of each other, particularly in relation to data center trends:
- Data growth: Rapid data growth is challenging the capacity, provisioning, management and protection of data for many data users. According to Gartner, 75% of enterprise-generated data will be created and kept outside a traditional data center or cloud by 2025. This is creating unprecedented challenges for IT and data center managers, including cost containment, technology obsolescence, and keeping pace as technologies and user needs evolve.
- Converging infrastructure hampered by data center infrastructure: As virtualization adoption increases, capacity planning is no longer just about specifying server, storage, and network resources for each application workload, but rather deploying combinations of assets for hundreds and thousands of workloads at a time. Higher compute densities are exceeding the power/cooling capacity of aging data centers, requiring new approaches to managing facilities
Shadow IT: Unless the IT team is seen as an enabler and consultant, users may try to circumvent controls and policies. And today, they’re able to spin up cloud instances with a few clicks and a credit card, potentially leading to cyber risks and spiraling costs. At the same time, however, the IT organization will be held responsible for the security and integrity of the information, even if it disappeared into the shadows
The proposal process isn’t the only challenge, however: the collective IT industry needs to learn lessons. Far too often, we start the ‘marble bathroom’ conversation with customers even though they might be struggling to deliver on the basics. In companies with poor IT infrastructure, the team invests all their time and energy in just keeping the lights on. They don’t have the headspace to think of transformation and if they do, it’s a real challenge to know where to start. So, to achieve success, IT organizations need a new appreciation for end-user values and must aggressively reduce ongoing IT maintenance costs to enable investment in new capabilities.
The first step toward supporting often-conflicting IT priorities is to modernize the infrastructure components on which IT is built or, rather, to become a future-ready data center. In the past, IT departments built their infrastructure and bought their applications but now they’re increasingly looking to invert that model. They want to buy simple, easy-to-deploy infrastructure platforms on which they can quickly build and run core business applications that differentiate their businesses, while also providing a platform for deploying next-generation applications.
Look out and up
Keeping up with the pace of change, having an eye on the future and addressing the urgent daily needs of employees and customers is a constant challenges. It’s also another key reason to partner with providers based on longer term business objectives; Forrester, for example, found that 81% of businesses said they require external technology expertise to be successful. In fact, businesses are increasingly looking to IT service providers to not only help with the day-to-day operations of their business but also for strategic guidance aligned with business objectives. Choosing the right partners means they benefit from the expertise and best practices and skills transfer, upskilling, and enabling internal staff as they focus on innovation efforts and critical outcomes.
All this only begins to tell the story of where businesses and IT teams are heading in the transformation process thanks to rapid digitization and market opportunity. There is no end point for transformation – it’s as constant as innovation – but there is a beginning. And the only way to achieve both goals – innovate and optimize – is to transform technology infrastructure is to lean on IT services providers who offer expertise, integration, and accelerators that help businesses shift their resources toward other transformational aspects. And that is how the modern data center will be built and run without any bad plumbing in place.
Dermot O’Connell, SVP Services Sales – EMEA, Dell Technologies