5. Get in Shape

Virtually all roads to agility stem from data center modernization – which is why so many organizations 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 organizations 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.

Hybrid IT: Budgeting and Planning

Plans to increase spending across several categories reflect an evolving Hybrid IT mix.

SaaS
33%
Virtualization
29%
Data center consolidation / optimization / modernization
28%
IaaS
27%
Private Cloud
27%
Legacy system modernization / replacement
26%
PaaS
24%
On-premises software
23%
Public Cloud
22%
Hybrid Cloud
22%
“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 modernizing the data center around Hybrid IT, organizations 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.

Building blocks for Hybrid IT: Four key building blocks

1. Containers and hyperconverged capabilities

The proliferation of virtual machines (VMs) has matured into container technology, which leverages 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 virtualization) 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 centralized console.

John DiCamillo, Americas CTO for Arup, is queuing up an IT service broker function for cloud capabilities as part of the firm’s data center makeover. Historically, business users who couldn’t get access to a service they wanted in a reasonable timeframe would circumvent IT and purchase cloud capabilities on their own.

To add some structure to those efforts, DiCamillo’s team created a function that enables staffers to access cloud services with their own ID, covering connectivity, account management, and payment. The cloud-enablement program “means we don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time,” he says. “We work with the business users and share information across the disciplines. It’s a stepping stone, but once the floodgates open, IT will need to think about the next activity, which is catalogs.”

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 organizations, enabling 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 centers and the public cloud. Another key orchestration component: centralized management solutions that span hybrid and multicloud environments, enabling workloads to flow continuously across environments and ensuring universal adherence to business and compliance requirements.

At 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 anytime 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.”

“We have a mandate that anytime the code is opened, developers have to use the automated stack. We’re getting higher-quality code as a result – and it’s also less expensive for code remediation and testing.”

– Renee Zaugg,
Vice President IT Infrastructure and Development, Aetna
Key Play

5. 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

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.


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