4. Get in Shape

Virtually all roads to agility stem from data centre modernisation. It’s why so many organisations are embracing software-defined infrastructure and other core foundational elements to get their digital transformation initiatives in shape.

A growing mix of next-generation services, layered onto on-premises enterprise systems, has put a spotlight on underpowered computing infrastructure and aging storage systems. One CEB study found that 63% of business leaders said their organisations are too slow to exploit technology-enabled opportunities. In response, HPE found, 60% of businesses are steering toward Hybrid IT solutions as the current or future makeup of their enterprise computing solutions.

“We've got some great guys, but the skills are short in the market, so we're trying to strike a balance between growing our own DevOps engineers and working with trusted partners.”

– Alan Crawford
CIO, City and Guilds Group

Hybrid IT: Budgeting and Planning

Plans to increase tech spending across several categories over the next 12 months reflect an evolving Hybrid IT mix.

Security technologies
59%
Data analytics
59%
Private cloud computing
59%
IoT/M2M/telematics
55%
Storage
55%
Data management
53%
Hybrid cloud computing
51%
Software-as-a-service
49%
Source: 2018 IDG Research Survey
“As an organisation where there are massive expectations on the IT department, we need to be able to do things in a more automated way to meet those expectations.”

– Jason Oliver
Director of ICT, Science Museum Group

By modernising the data centre around hybrid IT, organisations can overcome traditional hurdles to rapid IT provisioning while ensuring scalability and the flexibility to accommodate a broad set of workloads. Most importantly, however, the changes enable IT to act as a service broker to the business, seamlessly enabling applications and services to be deployed when and where they are needed in response to shifting demands, new processes, and emerging business opportunities.

Alan Crawford, CIO, City and Guilds Group, says that hybrid IT is changing the role of the traditional data centre: “Hybrid IT has got a role in the short to medium-term, but for a lot of organisations in the medium-term traditional data centres will become a thing of the past.”

The four building blocks for Hybrid IT success

1. Containers and hyperconverged capabilities

The proliferation of virtual machines (VMs) has matured into container technology, which utilises software-defined technology to abstract processes from hardware but also decouples the process from the underlying operating system. Because they are smaller, faster to deploy, and easily scalable, containers are easy to move from one environment to another, making them a good fit for Hybrid IT, where deployments can shift in response to changing business requirements.

Having a hyperconverged infrastructure is yet another way to reduce complexity by consolidating the former disparate functions of the IT stack (compute, networking, storage, and virtualisation) into a single, software-defined platform that brings the agility of the cloud to on-premises infrastructure.



2. Software-defined infrastructure

A software-defined approach replaces the manual effort of provisioning, monitoring, and managing IT networks, computing resources, and storage – essentially automating complex tasks via a set of programmable business rules. As part of a broader Hybrid IT model, software-defined infrastructure helps IT function as an internal service broker able to quickly provision or “compose” cloud or on-premises resources for any type of workload while maintaining management and control via a centralised console.

3. Composable infrastructure

Building on the marriage of hyperconverged infrastructure and software-defined capabilities is the concept of composable infrastructure. With a composable model, IT can rapidly assemble a complex architecture of systems based on previously defined templates and use of common management platforms and open standards such as the REST API.

A key benefit of a composable architecture is the ability to reconfigure systems to meet changing requirements in minutes rather than requiring the months-long rollouts associated with traditional IT.



4. Automation and orchestration

Automating IT processes and workflows is a critical capability in a Hybrid IT model. Automation ensures agile and rapid response and significantly decreases the day-to-day management burden for IT organisations. This enables them to focus on higher-value, business-oriented activities such as improving online ordering performance or shaving time off a product launch.

APIs and open, modular tools help ensure that workloads are seamlessly orchestrated between on-premises data centres and the public cloud. Another key orchestration component is the centralised management solution. This spans hybrid and multicloud environments, enabling workloads to flow continuously across environments. Meanwhile, it ensures universal adherence to business and compliance requirements.

At American managed health care company Aetna, an API architecture and automation are now essential ingredients for every computing stack, even for legacy systems based on COBOL and Java, according to Renee Zaugg, the firm’s Vice President of IT Infrastructure and Development.

“We have a mandate that any time the code is opened – for break/fix or even small enhancements – developers have to use the automated stack,” Zaugg explains. “We’re getting higher-quality code as a result – and it’s also less expensive for code remediation and testing.”

“Hybrid IT has got a role in the short to medium-term, but for a lot of organisations in the medium-term traditional data centres will become a thing of the past.”

– Alan Crawford
CIO, City and Guilds Group

60% of workloads will be deployed to cloud by the end of 2018

Source: 451 Research - Best Practices For Workload Placement in a Hybrid IT Environment

Key Play

4. The Opener

A software-defined infrastructure (SDI) helps to remove complexity and accelerate service improvement through open, programmable controls. Apply these controls in three layers:
  1. An IT administrative control layer facilitated by the composable infrastructure
  2. Line-of-business control through the cloud
  3. Application-level control through the software-defined architecture
Traditional IT New Style IT Compute Virtualize Storage Automate Networking Security Composable (i)Flexibility of resources 1 Cloud (i)Immediate acess to resources 2 Software-defined (i)Automation of resources 3 Implement programmable control of your infrastructure. Accelerate both cloud and IT convergence efforts. Manage a unified view of physical and virtual resources. Provide open control choices for improving your technology, processes, and workforce. Traditional IT Compute Automate Virtualize Networking Storage Security Traditional IT Composable (i)Flexibility of resources 1 Cloud (i)Immediate access to resources 2 Software-defined (i)Automation of resources 3 Implement programmable control of your infrastructure. Accelerate both cloud and IT convergence efforts. Manage a unified view of physical and virtual resources. Provide open control choices for improving your technology, processes, and workforce. New Style IT

View the key play highlights

Take a Deeper Dive into Hybrid IT

The Strategic CIO’s Playbook

Create a game plan for accelerating digital transformation with the right mix of Hybrid IT.