IT transformation projects are usually driven by the need to reduce complexity, improve agility, simplify systems, contain costs, manage ever growing data and provide more efficient operational management. Arguably, for seasoned IT professionals there is nothing new about the drivers for transformational change; it’s the velocity and scale of transformation today that’s the big challenge.
Today, to effectively accelerate business innovation, successful IT leaders are building infrastructure that focuses on automation and flexibility, supporting agile application development and helping deliver world-class customer experience. Of course, IT teams are still under pressure to deliver legacy, mission-critical applications but they also need to support a seemingly constant flow of emerging business opportunities. They’re also tasked to lower costs and reduce CapEx, while helping to drive revenue growth. That’s a lot of drivers and this complex juggling act often requires modernising infrastructure. An almost inevitable result of this is that the mix of platforms they adopt will include public cloud.
So, does that signal the end of the corporate data centre as we know it? Well, as is so often the answer – yes and no. ‘Yes’ because there is no doubt that the complexity and cost of building and managing on-premise infrastructures is becoming increasingly unsustainable for many businesses. And ‘no’ because proximity, business continuity and stability are still, quite rightly, primary drivers today. But the corporate data centre may well now be a service provider’s data centre.
The data centre is here to stay
The fact of the matter is, that non-public cloud data centres are here to stay, at least for a good while. But only as part of a hybrid solution that also allows businesses to take full advantage of the instant scalability and pay-as-you-use model of the public cloud.
Of course, as many businesses know, there is a sensible alternative – transitioning to service provider data centres. Why spend millions of dollars on buying and maintaining data centres and employing small armies of the smartest engineers, when you can simply outsource and buy it by the yard?
According to an interview with Richard Villars, VP of Data Centre and Cloud Research at IDC, “Over the next five years, a majority of organisations will stop managing their own infrastructure. They will make greater use of hosted managed services for their existing IT assets, and turn to dedicated and shared cloud offerings in service provider data centres for new services.”
Modernising the relationship
Many data centres are facing the same challenges as their facilities age, contracts expire and infrastructures approach end-of-life cycles. IT leadership teams in many businesses are working hand-in-glove with external partners to modernise their whole approach to data centres to address their often very specific business and IT goals. It’s essential that the drive to optimise a business’s data centre involves properly considered strategic decisions about the use of on-premise, hosted, co-located, and cloud infrastructure. The right partner should be happy to meet clients at whatever stage they’re at in their transformation journey, ready to help them take the best next step – whatever that might be.
Service provider agreements can now offer a high degree of commercial flexibility, with shorter term contracts quickly becoming the norm, along with more holistic managed service agreements. Gartner predicts that by 2020, 90% of organisations will adopt hybrid infrastructure management capabilities – which include both cloud, hosted and on-premise computing services.
In a recent press release, D.D. Mishra, Gartner research director notes: "As the demand for agility and flexibility grows, organisations will shift toward more industrialised, less-tailored options. Organisations that adopt hybrid infrastructure will optimise costs and increase efficiency. However, it increases the complexity of selecting the right toolset to deliver end-to-end services in a multi-sourced environment." (Gartner, Gartner Says a Massive Shift to Hybrid Infrastructure Services Is Underway, April 2017).
Getting the right partner to help in any transformation journey is key, and that partner needs to have the tools, experience and knowledge to help deliver across the whole piece – which in most cases, will involve modernising the data centre.
I’ll be following up this article with another that outlines the steps to data centre optimisation. That requires proper consideration of the application workloads, and a complete audit of the existing IT landscape, using tools to map these in a comprehensive and meaningful way. Only then is it possible to plan a low-risk, low-cost migration path that not only optimises the data centre, but which maximises the use of public cloud too.
Subscribe to our blog for the next installment of this series: The 5 Key Steps to Data Centre Optimisation.