Those who run data centres, or have a say in their organization’s data strategy, know the problem all too well. Technology infrastructure has to be all things to all people. It must be secure, accurate and stable. At the same time, it must enable fast, flexible response to opportunities and threats. It must be flexible but unbreakable. Open, but closed.
Organizations require continuous, secure access to their data. That means an IT infrastructure that is always on; no downtime. But they are also trying to create personalized experiences for their customers, employees, vendors and anyone who they come in contact with. People want and need access anywhere, anytime from any device. At the same time, they expect privacy and system integrity.
Your company needs to respond quickly to market opportunities, or risks, without hurting its core business. It must be open – easy to work with. But not so open that security is endangered.
At the same time as CIOs are dealing with these competing demands for value, they are also dealing with potentially overwhelming strains on data infrastructure. The emergence of big data — just capturing it and managing it – along with the sophisticated new tools needed to analyze it and extract actionable insights are changing the way we understand our organizations and approach our markets.
CIOs are also integrating new mobile technologies and social media practices, which not only add to the data overload but also change how, where and when we enable employees and serve customers.
To do all this, they are learning new delivery models – private clouds, public clouds, hybrid clouds – that change the way they provision and organize data.
And of course, you’re always being asked to do more with less. Budgets rarely go up. That is the CIO’s reality. The only certainty is that the pace of change will not slow any time soon.
It can seem impossible to keep up, impossible to manage all this change. But it is possible to become an agile organization that navigates these competing requirements. The good news is there’s a common-sense approach that enables CIOS to address the growing pressures and often competing demands, and frees up trapped value-and-resources that pay for them.
This approach is a hybrid or bi-modal strategy that recognizes the competing demands organizations face every day.
Think of data infrastructure as a two-sided coin. One side is focused on security, accuracy and stability. The other is focused on responsiveness and flexibility.
An agile, hybrid model releases the value from legacy systems to create savings – savings on capital expenditures and on operating expenditures. Those savings are reinvest-able.
We are seeing returns on investment of 20, 30 and 40 per cent with our customers. As they free up resources – by doing things more effectively and efficiently – they are able to reinvest in newer platforms, transformative technologies, more cost-effective infrastructure, and game-changing applications.
What comprises a hybrid, agile infrastructure? It’s one that is automated. It is highly virtualized, orchestrated, and brokered. It runs on converged infrastructure – no isolated islands. It runs across resilient data centres in or out of the cloud. It uses operational analytics, to maximize operating effectiveness. And it employs self-healing tools – tools that are governed by your policies, practices and processes.
The path to the benefits of hybrid starts with a deliberate and comprehensive hybrid strategy. It maps the operational effectiveness of the current state. And maps the path to increased effectiveness, resilience, and flexibility.
In one recent real-world example, an organization was deploying an important new consumer-facing application. Using its traditional methodology, it would have taken about three months, from the time it ordered the equipment to the time it tested and then deployed the application.
But instead, it used software-defined decision-making that incorporated all its internal processes, policies, procedures and governance. By automating that process, it had that application built, tested and running in a week. Not only had you cut costs and saved valuable resources, but it got a high-value service to market months faster.
Now multiply that by the dozens, scores, or even hundreds of IT projects most organizations have in the queue. Imagine the benefits – financial and operational – of getting those up and running much faster.
That’s another reason a well-executed hybrid strategy is quite simply the most effective way to maximize organizational effectiveness – freeing trapped value in the data centre and seizing new opportunities in today’s fast-paced marketplace.
Farhaz Thobani is the Director of Systems Services at IBM Canada Ltd. His team designs, implements and supports transformative IT strategies for clients, helping them increase efficiency, streamline operations and innovate.
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