As enterprises seek to implement and drive broad, business-wide digital innovations, infrastructure and operations (I&O) leaders are likewise leveraging key technology trends in order to better support these initiatives. A recent article from Gartner outlines 10 of the top trends that I&O leaders are exploring to better align their activities with strategic business objectives in the digital era.
Disappearing data centers
With their infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS) offerings, cloud providers are steadily taking over from traditional enterprise data centers. However, as most companies are likely to retain at least some level of on-premise data center capability, I&O leaders must focus on developing effective strategies to manage hybrid system combinations that encompass on- and off-premise, as well as cloud and non-cloud, architectures.
Data center interconnect fabric—a type of digital business solution leveraging colocation-based, programmable networking—is changing the nature of business interactions by allowing dynamic interconnection between a whole host of stakeholders, including enterprise peers, communications providers, cloud providers, and a developing marketplace of service providers. This helps to decentralize the IT delivery model, allowing for a more even distribution and better exchange among services, partners, and customers.
Containers, microservices, and application streams
When it comes to cloud development application platforms, I&O departments are finding that smaller is better. Microservices are applications constructed as an integrated suite of small services that carry out separate processes and use light and agile network-based mechanisms to communicate. The advantage of these microservices is that it’s possible to deploy and manage them independently, with very little direct interaction with the fundamental operating system. Containers are the tools used to implement microservices thanks to the per-process isolation they enable.
As seen in other recent reporting from Gartner, business unit spending on IT (as opposed to technology spending coming from IT units themselves) is on the rise. I&O leaders with IT interests are therefore working to build collaborative relationships with key business stakeholders in order to better understand—not to mention, help guide—the impacts of business IT spending on overall operations.
Data center as a service
The fact that data centers are disappearing creates the perfect opportunity for I&O leaders to develop the data center as a service (DcaaS) model. By mediating the delivery of the right service, from the right provider, at the right pace and price, both I&O and IT become critical brokers of services, cementing their role as the valuable enabler of cloud service delivery across the business.
Stranded capacity refers to things that have been paid for but are not being used effectively, a common problem in both on-premise data centers and the cloud. When considering their assets, I&O leaders are accustomed to focusing on uptime and availability as important performance indicators, but they must now add capacity, utilization, and density to their list. When such factors are properly considered and addressed, the life of an existing data center can be significantly extended and operating expenditures to other providers reduced.
The Internet of Things
Given the massive and exponentially growing volume of data it generates, the Internet of Things (IoT) will have a drastic impact on the design and management of future data centers. I&O leaders may benefit from consulting with IoT architects, who can help design long-term strategies for how data centers can evolve in response to IoT devices constantly streaming data to enterprises, government departments, and agencies worldwide.
Remote device (thing) management
As digital transformation has enabled more and more organizations to maintain remote sites or offices, the question of how to centralize the management of these remote locations has become imperative. Adding urgency to the issue is the rapid adoption of IoT solutions by many business units; now, connect sensors, which may have management requirements ranging from firmware updates to simple periodic battery replacements, are among the assets forming a large and growing part of many enterprises’ remote inventories.
Micro and edge computing environments
In these types of computing environments, the execution of real-time applications relies on high-speed responses at the nearer edge servers (that is, any server whose home is the “edge” between two networks). This allows some of the computation-intensive processing to be offloaded from the user’s device to edge servers, allowing for more consistent delivery of application processes, regardless of the device’s capability.
As I&O leaders evolve and adapt to a changing digital environment, there will grow a need for new I&O positions to help ensure an organization’s smooth digital transformation. Some of these new roles will include the IT cloud broker, in charge of managing the offerings of multiple cloud service providers; the IoT architect, who strategizes about the impact of IoT systems on data centers; and the integration expert, responsible for integrating new initiatives such as edge computing into existing operations.