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How IT Infrastructure Supports Digital Transformation

Scott Sherwood, Sr. Director, Product Marketing
March 5, 2020

Digital transformation is changing how organizations pursue growth opportunities and improve operational efficiencies. As digital transformation becomes a higher priority, CEOs and even the board of directors are getting involved. In response, growing numbers of organizations are forming cross-functional working groups charged with identifying digital initiatives that drive innovation, increase efficiencies, and improve customer engagement.

Traditional data center deconstructed

Historically, IT was the gateway to technology for the business. Business leaders would come to the CIO with a business objective or problem, and IT would implement a technological solution to solve it. IT was charged with protecting business operations through controlled change management processes. But over time the need for greater volume and speed surpassed the capabilities of IT; traditional IT models simply are unable to react to market changes quickly enough. Plus, rooted in the realm of technology, IT often struggles to speak the language of the business.

Today, the emergence of cloud applications and services give line of business leaders an alternative. This creates Shadow IT, which removes visibility and control from the IT department and leads to business leaders solving problems themselves. It’s easy to see conflicting priorities from both sides; business leaders need to accelerate to serve customers and IT leaders must ensure security, compliance and control within the business.

No longer does the business need to wait on IT to scope and queue technological projects to address their business initiatives, but they can leverage the public cloud to adopt new technologies faster and often more effectively. And while individual business units may be able to satisfy their objectives by engaging with cloud providers directly, excising IT from the solution equation is fraught with problems—compliance, governance, security, to name just a few. At the same time, siloed/stand-alone projects that fail to engage IT ratchet up service and network complexity while increasing risk to the business. These include everything from security breaches, to operational outages, to higher cost.

“New infrastructures must be designed to allow the business to do what it needs to do, when it needs to do it, anywhere in the world.”
– Gartner, Infrastructure is Everywhere: The Evolution of Data Centers, July 2019

These digital innovations give IT the opportunity to solve business problems by becoming the central hub for implementing solutions. In order to succeed in the future, IT will need to return to its historical roots to effectively serve the business.

Distributed centers of data serve as hubs for interconnection

The good news is that CEOs and board of directors recognize that order must be imposed on the chaos resulting from digital transformation—and IT is seen as the hub for facilitating infrastructure standards and centralized governance. For organizations with cross-functional digital transformation working groups, IT holds more seats at the table than other groups.

A critical underlying enabler of digital transformation is IT infrastructure and operations (I&O). Traditional data center models must dramatically transform in a world where on-premises data centers, private clouds, and public clouds intersect. This intersection is described by Gartner1 as follows:

“Data center interconnection is a model in which discrete assets within a multitenant data center are connected to each other directly [usually over fiber] and in a peer-to-peer fashion. These connections may be as simple as fiber-optic cross-connects but allow data-center-based assets to horizontally connect to multiple carriers, cloud providers, peers, and service providers.”

– Gartner, Infrastructure is Everywhere: The Evolution of Data Centers, July 2019

This transformational I&O approach demands a toolbox of infrastructure capabilities that facilitate speed and agility while also ensuring standard governance that protects the business. I&O becomes the means for solving business problems and enabling new revenue opportunities. But the traditional data center model must be deconstructed in order to achieve the flexibility and optimization needed by the business. Operations dispersed across different industries, site-specific workloads, evolving partner ecosystems, computing at the edge such as Internet of Things (IoT), and data sovereign dictate that I&O leaders assume the role of business enabler.

Figuring out the network component of hybrid IT architectures is one of the biggest potential challenges for connectivity. Per Gartner1, “as IT and the business continue to add more external services, that network and service complexity will become the greatest inhibitor to success.” Network administrators are currently challenged with managing disparate traffic flows from multiple sources and improving their business units’ application performance while controlling cost—forcing them to adopt a new network architecture. Gartner also recommends, “For those that are using or considering colocation, exploiting the interconnection services the provider has available, or is developing, might be a viable option.”

This future I&O landscape is not far off. According to Gartner1:

“By 2022, 60% of enterprise IT infrastructures will focus on centers of data, rather than traditional data centers.”
– Gartner, Infrastructure is Everywhere: The Evolution of Data Centers, July 2019

As a consequence, I&O leaders must concentrate much more on investments in external technologies rather than those on premises. Data is distributed across the infrastructure—to the technological and geographical edges. This decentralized infrastructure removes data gravity barriers that accommodate distributed workflows. It also integrates physical and virtual roles into one digital platform that interconnects data with different ecosystems tailored to business requirements.

Infrastructure is everywhere ... in one platform

I&O leaders need to look for a digital platform like Digital Realty’s PlatformDIGITAL® that consolidates their entire underlying infrastructure into one interface. In addition to enabling I&O leaders to control costs by leveraging an on-demand infrastructure, PlatformDIGITAL® accelerates the business by shortening deployment cycles—whether on premises or in the private and public cloud. Core capabilities of this digital platform include:

  • Dynamically change bandwidth to right-size the network for performance service-level agreements (SLAs) based on users, devices, and applications
  • Faster agility in managing local requirements as new locations are deployed and addressable markets emerge
  • Optimization of costs using on-demand infrastructure model that charges for infrastructure only in use
  • Facilitation of cross-ecosystem and -regional workflows based on requirements such as data governance

When these capabilities are enacted, businesses can dynamically determine what infrastructure connections are needed and when they are needed, deploy infrastructure on demand, host what they need and how it is consumed, and control how infrastructure is implemented and operated. With a consolidated fabric that serves as the lingua franca for managing workflows and integrating digital systems, I&O teams can bring users, networks, systems, and IoT to their data. The lack of agility and speed business units attribute to traditional data center approaches no longer exist in a world of interconnectivity—where data resides anywhere and local resources store and transact data in real time.

Explore PlatformDIGITAL® today to learn more about how it can serve as the springboard for meeting business requirements while ensuring risk are minimized.

1 Gartner, Infrastructure is Everywhere: The Evolution of Data Centers, July 2019