The digital era has revolutionised the way businesses operate, with disruptive technologies such as Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud leading the way. In addition, we are seeing the emergence of machine learning, the growing Internet of Things (IoT) and rapid adoption of open source solutions, says Milind Halepath, GM and global head Of Datacentre Practice, Global Infrastructure Services (GIS), Wipro LTD.
This evolution has dramatically altered the Information Technology (IT) requirements within the enterprise, and not only in terms of underlying technology. Consumers of IT today are savvier than ever, and no longer wish to follow lengthy procurement cycles in order to leverage new technology. The need for agile, flexible provisioning and a new culture of IT buying customers has driven significant change in the way modern data centres are designed, located and consumed. Digital data centres are key to supporting a successful business, both now and in the future. Organisations need to evaluate their service provider to ensure they can deliver and continue to meet evolving business requirements.
The changing data centre
Data lies at the heart of everything that has come to be known as ‘digital’. As a result, one of the consequences of the accelerated growth and adoption of digital technologies is a host of new demands placed on the data centre. The reality is that traditional application architectures are simply no longer flexible enough to adapt to the velocity, volume and variety of data generated today. Furthermore, the IoT has driven a move toward decentralised data centres, with an emphasis on moving toward cloud-based models. Borderless enterprises have emerged, and thus data security has had to evolve to adapt to these changes. The speed at which data is generated today, as well as the explosive growth in the amount of data, is putting pressure on data centre networks. In addition, there is a new focus on price versus performance, and while organisations are still willing to pay a premium for differentiated services, the level of the premium is decreasing.
In order to continue to meet business needs, the new data centre ecosystem needs to respond to the conditions dictated by a digital world. There must be a renewed focus on the speed of deployment, availability, flexibility, scalability, agility, maintainability, security and affordability. Organisations should evaluate their data centre provider to ensure they are able to adapt to and deliver on these changing requirements. There are several key parameters for such an evaluation, including a flexible approach, innovative offerings, the multiplier effect, and new age expertise.
A flexible approach
Changing technology, and the resultant changes to business environments, requires a far more flexible approach from service providers. The goal is for service providers to make their services as easy to understand, and easy to consume, as possible. One means to achieve this is to provide a ‘catalogue’ of services from which enterprises can pick and choose those that they require. In addition, it is essential for providers to have a service model that is flexible enough to allow for unplanned requirements and for the rapid deployment of new technologies according to changing business requirements. Service contracts should not be rigid, but rather responsive to business needs. Consumption of services should be driven, not by IT or by a fixed contract amount, but by business owners and the variable needs of the enterprise.
Furthermore, enterprise technology needs to support two different functions. Firstly, it needs to enable the business to run, and secondly it should support the constant and continually changing path to transformation. Data centres that operate on traditional architectures are able to cater to the first requirement of enabling the business to run, however, they are lacking in the agility that is critical to support continuous transformation.
Service providers should offer next-generation data centre architecture that goes beyond IT infrastructure geared toward supporting traditional workloads. In addition, the data centre should provide a business- and solution-centric view. Workloads and underlying infrastructure should be designed for hyper-scalability, required business performance, resiliency and service continuity. Data centres should also have innovation hubs tasked with the creation of standard and purpose-built service components, supported by enterprise architects and business analysts who are able to understand the needs of the enterprise.
The multiplier effect
Service providers should have partners operating across geographies, with access to cross-functional specialists, platform professionals and domain experts. This enables a data centre provider to tailor solutions specifically to the needs of an enterprise and draw on the capabilities of emerging niche players. Enterprises can thus leverage a cost effective, open-standards based brokerage approach to services. The data centre provider should offer the management tools that bring the various systems together and deliver enhanced value and return on investment. Ultimately, having the correct partnerships in place enables service providers to multiply the benefits they can provide to their customers by a significant factor.
New age expertise
The needs of the enterprise have changed, and are also often variable. They may include the ability to leverage cloud-based environments, wireless solutions, software-defined data centres, and support for development operations in provisioning IT services. The goal of the service provider is to support the business in the drive toward service agility and reduced time to market of new products and services or extensions to the existing portfolio into new markets. This typically calls for expertise beyond the traditional data centre related skills, including networking, application management and storage. In addition, elements such as API integration, micro services, programmable IT, policy definitions and orchestration are all becoming relevant skills for future data centre requirements.
The consumerisation of IT, driven by Social, Mobile, Analytics, Cloud and other disruptive technologies, has forced enterprises to attempt to adapt while the majority of their IT infrastructure is still legacy. Since data is at the heart of the digital revolution, the data centre has become a critical component in the delivery of services that support the required agility and flexibility. Data centre providers need to act as enablers for the delivery of future solutions, enabling enterprises to achieve continuous transformation. Data centre providers need to work hand-in-hand with IT and business owners, maintaining a flexible approach to contracts and meeting key parameters to ensure they will be able to support business now and in the future.