Control and evolve: How the Software-Defined Data Centre can enable business and IT agility
The primary goal for most CTOs is to ensure that the right technology is leveraged to meet the needs of the business. Essentially defining and executing the best way for IT to be provided, consumed and supported whilst ensuring the delivery of that service is resilient, secure, scalable and stable. These outcomes are reflected in the way corporate Data Centre architectures have been created over the last 20 years.
Once business requirements were gathered, industry best practice designs would typically be rigorously tested and deployed across the organisation and for a short time the business benefitted from a new platform to host their applications. IT infrastructure would be supported in much the same way as previous generations – no alignment to or understanding or what services or applications were leveraging or dependant on it. Some minor performance and efficiencies were gained however the architecture largely remained the same and was only reassessed every three years as part of a hardware refresh cycle.
Thanks to the consumerisation of IT, customer requirements and expectations are more demanding than ever, driving businesses to innovate and deploy new services quicker than ever before.
Internal IT organisations have to adapt and evolve at a pace which can’t be supported with traditional inflexible, monolithic legacy data centre architectures.
The perceived lower cost of public cloud services and the ability to be able to spin up resources quickly and independently of organisational governance and procurement frameworks, were seen as an attractive alternative for lines of businesses and were widely used as a faster route to market when internal IT provisioning couldn’t match the ease and speed of application deployment demands. This created the challenge of shadow IT, the hidden cost and risk of lines of businesses going around the IT organisation to access IT resources directly.
Multi-cloud environments can deliver significant benefits for organisations. Enabling applications to be developed and deployed faster also presents many new challenges; from ensuring that your applications are refactored and optimised to operate in a cloud environment, to ensuring data is secure and access and security policies are deployed and maintained consistently.
Redefining the Architecture
CTO’s embarking on digital transformation recognise that an on-premise, infrastructure–centric standard build approach no longer works in the agile world. Lines of business and cloud providers have extended the boundaries of traditional data centres into hybrid, multi-cloud environments. A new agile business architecture is required, combining the benefits of scale, simplicity and elasticity of cloud providers with a highly secure, automated, software-defined fabric on-premise infrastructure. By delivering such an environment, IT organisations can enable the ongoing success of the business.
The Software-Defined Data Centre
With closer alignment and a deeper understanding of the requirements of the applications (and more importantly the expected business outcomes) IT can think beyond how the infrastructure works to focus on what we want the infrastructure to deliver – the ‘intent-based’ approach.