Technology is transforming the way we live and work at an ever-increasing pace. This is a new digital era. It is the dawn of the Internet of Things (IOT), what many have called the next industrial revolution. While previous industrial eras were driven by steam, coal and electricity, this one is driven by data. It is ruthlessly changing the business landscape and reinventing our future.
Business Information Technology (IT) departments are under significant pressure. IT is no longer just responsible for keeping the lights-on and treated as a cost center. IT is becoming a business partner, responsible for playing a significant role in digital transformation.
Digital transformation has become a rallying cry for every industry. As more of our daily lives and business opportunity shifts into the digital world, there is a corresponding need to prioritize IT activities within an organization. This shift has been very disruptive for organizations as existing systems, and operational models failed to adapt quickly enough to meet business needs, leading to cloud and shadow IT becoming a lightning rod of innovation that happened outside the watchful eye of central IT management. As this model has proven fruitful, organizations are looking to tap into that innovation in a more sustainable way.
There is an imperative to deliver new modernized applications to market, to innovate with technology to beat competitors and to do it faster with more choice. At the same time there are requirements for stricter compliance, improved security, controlled costs and increased efficiency. Lowering risk with disaster recovery (DR) and business continuity (BC) solutions becomes even more critical.
Traditional IT infrastructure is custom designed to fit a business’ particular needs using any solution from any vendor. This flexibility comes with drawbacks, including the extensive time needed to research and get the initial or expanded infrastructure ordered, installed, and ready to deploy applications. Infrastructure from multiple hardware and software vendors leads to separately managed operational silos, relying on multiple IT staff with different areas of expertise. Without centralized management, achieving security and compliance is much more difficult. When there is a problem, support issues may get stuck in circular finger pointing where vendors blame one another. Even with careful planning, upgrades run into complications and increased risk from interactions between products from different vendors.
Each product in this type of legacy stack is likely to be grossly overprovisioned, using its own resources (CPU, memory and storage) to address the intermittent peak workloads of resident applications. The value of a single shared resource pool, offered by server virtualization, is still generally limited to the server layer. All other components, such as networks and storage, are islands of overprovisioned resources that are often not shared. Therefore, low utilization of the overall stack results in the ripple effects of high acquisition, space and power costs. Too many resources are wasted in traditional legacy environments.
The physical infrastructure consists of complex hardware silos that are difficult to manage or automate. Regular maintenance tasks and hardware outages require expensive downtime. Mitigating the problem using dedicated standby hardware is expensive. The hardware-centric architecture results in operational inefficiencies because of factors such as the limited capacity of the CPUs in running applications, a single operating system image per machine and inflexible infrastructure that is difficult to troubleshoot.
These problems can be mitigated by trading off a highly flexible choice of vendors and applications for building the infrastructure with a more standardized infrastructure that is easier to support and maintain. Traditional IT can use product compatibility lists to help alleviate multi-vendor support issues by reducing the scope of solutions that can be considered for use to products included in the compatibility list. However, without easy automation solutions and with limited IT staff, achieving compliance is still very challenging.