SDI: at the heart of digital transformation

As large numbers of consumers expect reliable, leading-edge, on-the-go digital services, IT must provide an infrastructure that enables the business to deliver new and updated services with faster time-to-market.

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SDI: at the heart of digital transformation
By  Paul Abi-Chahine Published  May 20, 2017

Today’s increasingly mobile, always-on environment is driving a fundamental shift in our digital culture.

With an estimated two billion smartphone users across the globe and with mobile technology accelerating at an unprecedented pace, this digital transformation will continue for years to come. In fact, the number of mobile phone users worldwide is expected to pass the five billion mark by 2019.

The Challenge: Adapting IT for the Digital Business

Today’s digital transformation is placing growing demands on IT. The enterprise IT department is now required to meet business needs with agility and flexibility while maintaining data privacy and security for regulatory compliance. As large numbers of consumers expect reliable, leading-edge, on-the-go digital services, IT must provide an infrastructure that enables the business to deliver new and updated services with faster time-to-market. Unfortunately, in an era where IT innovation is hampered by manual tasks that do little more than “keep the lights on”, this is a tall order.

IT must also meet the needs of business users who buy public cloud services on their own without regard for security or regulatory compliance. This “shadow IT” effect has the potential to put the business and the privacy of consumer data at risk.

Moreover, these challenges are not limited to technology companies. Businesses in every industry are experiencing explosive data growth from the digital transformation. Data is generated by mobile technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT) wearables and sensors, digital health apps, online banking and more. IT departments in all organisations must effectively store, manage, and protect this data without incurring additional costs. According to Gartner, enterprise IT budgets are flat or increasing only slightly. This requires IT to meet the storage, processing, and networking needs of the digital business while also reducing both capital and operating expenses.

The solution: Software-Defined Infrastructure

A software-defined infrastructure (SDI) holds great promise in resolving the many challenges IT organisations face as a result of the digital transformation. Modernising the data centre with a software-defined infrastructure enables IT to reliably manage growing data and enable faster time-to-market with agility, stability and cost-savings.

Improved agility

In the traditional data centre, provisioning resources is complex and time-consuming. However, with a software-defined infrastructure, IT can use automation and cloud-based, self-service capabilities to respond to the needs of the business in hours or days, not weeks or months, and with less manual intervention. This improved agility enables IT to deliver resources more quickly and allows business units to improve time-to-market speeds for new services or applications, and ultimately improving their ability to respond to customer needs faster and gain a competitive advantage.

Moreover, a modern data centre with software-defined storage can support unlimited storage, offering flexibility in scaling as digital operations grow. This enables digital businesses to efficiently host and maintain large data stores including video, graphics, audio and other TB-sized files, enabling them to support the modern apps their customers’ desire.

Business continuity

Modernising the data centre with new technologies doesn’t compel enterprise IT organisations to give up on the stability and reliability they so desperately need. In fact, the opposite is true. The software-defined infrastructure offers great business continuity, enabling businesses to avoid the pain of unplanned downtime.

For storage specifically, a software-defined infrastructure with no single points of failure offers a highly redundant design for system resiliency and availability. What’s more, self-healing capabilities minimise storage administrator involvement and maximise application availability following any hardware failure.

To ensure stability and business continuity, the right software-defined platform must be rigorously tested, include 24x7 worldwide technical support, and be fully integrated into upgrade processes so enterprises can easily maintain and patch their workload deployments.

Reduced costs

No matter the exact dollar amount, the fact remains that IT is under pressure to do more with less. Fortunately, the software-defined infrastructure holds great promise in this effort.

From an operational perspective, IT can reduce OpEx with the efficient management tools available as part of a software-defined suite. Automated management and single storage administration tools enable IT to manage the data centre with existing IT staff. No specialised training is required which reduces IT cost overheads.

Additional cost reductions are made possible by the freedom and flexibility afforded by open-source solutions. Open source solutions offer the freedom and flexibility to leverage existing investments in physical and virtual systems. They also provide quick access to the accelerated innovation made by the large, open-source community, with the added benefit of additional testing and support for those features. When deciding on aonly enterprise-level open-source vendors are flexible and agile enough to enable faster innovation while ensuring stability, business continuity and scalability, and all in a future-proofed design that will endure for years to come.

Software-defined infrastructure offerfirms further reductions in CapEx spending by leveraging investments already made in data centre infrastructure. When including software-defined storage in the infrastructure, IT organisations can use existing or commodity hardware and realise significant CapEx savings for their expanding storage demands.

With digital transformation comes a change in consumer expectations. In fact according to a recent study from Dell-EMC, 93% of business leaders worldwide agree that technology has changed customer expectations in the past five to 10 years. Greater digital connectivity requires businesses to communicate with their consumers and partners through interactive, robust digital apps.

The convergence of these trends requires that IT adopt new approaches to optimising the data centre while supporting agile development processes.

With a software-defined infrastructure in place, the IT team can drive innovation and overcome the pressures of the digital economy with much greater agility, flexibility and reduced costs.

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