Dell EMC modern datacentre specialist, Perry Delaney, said it’s both “exciting times” and “challenging times” for the ICT industry given the new and ever-present digital reality.
“As an IT industry everything is moving towards this new digital realisation,” Delaney told attendees during the Computerworld Breakfast event: Flash Forward: How to deliver real outcomes in the age of storage innovation, in partnership with Dell EMC and Intel.
“I’m not going to say that winter is coming, but the Internet of Things (IoT) is here and there are millions of devices connected to the network. The network is getting better and better all of the time. Investment in wireless networks and wired networks is improving, so it’s allowing more and more connected devices.”
Delaney said there’s an explosion of data, the advent of multi-cloud environments and ongoing networking transformation, along with new and blended business models driving emerging workloads. “Everything is pushing towards digital.”
He talked about the journey towards datacentre modernisation, and why and how companies need to adopt digital strategies. “We’re living in a world of change. It’s no longer business as usual.”
Indeed, he said the volume of data that digitisation is bringing into the industry is massive.“The challenge here is we really don’t know what we don’t know. The new workloads which we will deploy in and around our digital strategies are going to address things that we haven’t even actually thought of yet.”
Certainly, IT leaders are continually grappling with how to manage and store data - and eventually the concept of value will come into the equation, he explained.
“Traditionally, we would think of capacity and performance or performance and scale. But I think we’re going to see the concept of value coming into the equation. That is, how much value has that data created for us in our business model and in our applications - how those applications are engaging with our customers - and what are the returns coming back into the business around that data.”
Given the growing complexities of going digital, he acknowledged there’s no ‘silver bullet” when it comes to the modernisation of the IT infrastructure.
“I would encourage you to think about what scale requirements the business needs, how you’re going to manage capacity given capacity demands can be quite elastic and quite overwhelming for very large datasets.
“Also think about how you’re going to integrate or cloud-tier. It’s important to be able to deploy services - especially digital services - in an environment that doesn’t really matter where the data resides. You want to be able to share services across on-premise, off-premise, private cloud, public cloud, SAS models and all of that type of thing,” he said, urging IT leaders to keep an eye on costs and the management front.
Digital is here
Like Delaney, IDC associate vice-president Hugh Ujhazy - who also addressed the crowd about the business value of infrastructure modernisation - reiterated the importance of being “prepared” when it comes to the digital transformation journey.
Ujhazy said every organisation - without question - is undergoing a digital transformation.
“We’re all doing it. We’re going from digital transformation to customer transformation to user experience optimisation to everything under the sun. But the fundamental message from the CIO level all the way down to the person in the warehouse is, ‘Can we go faster?’
“We want systems to go faster, the network to go faster, we want applications development to go faster, we want to ingest more data and drive results from that data at an ever-increasing rate.”
And although the industry talks about digital transformation, Ujhazy said “we tend to focus on the sexy bits” that looks to change the organisational structure, create new KPIs, engage with new markets or increase wallet-share.
“But underpinning all of those transformations has to be a very solid infrastructure that is agile enough and flexible enough to allow you to do the things you want to do, when you want to do them.”
Ujhazy recognised all companies need to be faster and more productive. “We have to invest in this infrastructure and we have to try and drive simplification of that infrastructure so there are fewer things that can go wrong, and it is easier to make change in a very dynamic way.”
He said each and every company needs intelligence at the heart of the enterprise - a core tenet of the digital transformations story - which enables us to build applications, develop new solutions, engage differently with customers, partners and employees.
“We have to be able to bring all of those pieces together so they integrate seamlessly towards an outcome. Because what we’re trying to do is embark on this continuous journey, which is a set of cycles of change within the infrastructure.”
He said the modernisation process will always be a hybrid approach, incorporating a mix of legacy infrastructure and new technologies.
“Dealing with the legacy migration and integrating into a core that has the intelligence we need is one of the key fundamentals of transforming our infrastructure.”
He said according to a recent IDC survey the top infrastructure and datacentre priorities of IT leaders is to modernise their mission-critical applications, and automate their system management environment, which is, in part, driven by a lack of skills in-house and an overall skills shortage.
“We’re looking to automation and orchestration tools to take some of that mundane routine stuff out of the mix and allow the people that you do have to do more interesting things.”
He said high-performance storage is an essential requirement in the push towards modernisation. Additionally, he said converged and hyper-converged technologies are driving higher productivity, lower overhead in terms of maintenance and greater availability in the environment.
Looking more broadly, he said CEOs are concerned with escalating costs, new business models and changing consumption patterns.
“The issue around cost is one where we can’t keep throwing people at it; we can’t replace the latest technology. We have to be able to be careful how we invest and what solution we bring to bear. So we need to be thinking about our migration through the stack and having a plan of how we evolve the IT and infrastructure services within the organisation.”
“Moving through from technology services to a more services-led approach and more of a consulting-led approach is that journey that IT as a whole is on as digital becomes more and more a part of every single part of the organisation.”
He said relatively few CIOs in Australia would see themselves as a cost centre and more as consulting-led or services-led.
“Even some would say they are looking to generate business value across the entire stack.”