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Open standards crucial for survival

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The Internet of Things (IoT) is driving digital transformation across industries. That said, legacy infrastructure could be preventing organisations from successfully making this transition.
This is the view of George Kalebaila, senior research manager at International Data Corporation Sub-Saharan Africa, who addsL “Organisations will have to invest in systems that are not application specific.
“Architectural approaches such as software-defined networking, which decouples the control logic from the underlying switching and routing, will be critical as it will also be far more flexibility.” This allows organisations to easily allocate resources where they are needed in real time, making network resources such as compute and programmable. “This allows the infrastructure to scale and move with time and changes are made at an application level.
“The network layer can easily be programmed to do what you need it to do because the logic is removed from the hardware and included in the software. This means you can just reallocate and align those resources to whatever new business requirement you may have.”
Building a software-defined enterprise is one of the topics which will be discussed at the upcoming IDC South Africa CIO Summit, taking place at Emperors Palace from 20 to 21 April. The discussion will highlight how organisations will have to relook at their service delivery models and enable automation to become truly digital.
Kalebaila believes that it is important for organisations to embrace open standards. “Firstly, adopting open standards means that you do not get locked into one specific vendor. Secondly, you are able to harness the power of best in class and select the best vendor for a specific application or use case that you want to implement. This allows you to have a multi-vendor environment provided it supports and adopts open standards.”
He adds, however, that you must have the right processes in place within your internal environment that support agility and the ability to adapt to changing business requirements. “We don’t know what applications we will be running in the next three to five years, but if the company has infrastructure that is agile and flexible enough, then they will be able to recalibrate and put new business processes in place that satisfy the requirements of the new applications.”
There has been a definitive shift from a network-centric approach to an application and service-centric approach. “The IT department in an organisation exists to give a service, not to be a bottleneck. The applications that an organisation needs to run to fulfil their business needs should dictate the network environment, not the other way around,” says Kalebaila.
The business imperative, therefore, drives what the environment looks like.
“In the past, the IT department would tell the business what infrastructure is in place and what applications can be run. Today, however, the business is telling IT what they want to do and IT is then tasked with creating an environment to execute on that. This model allows you to scale and forego some of the Capex investment because you are infrastructure light or can even transfer your risk to a cloud provider,” he says.
Kalebaila concludes that, while there will always be a need for hardware, the importance thereof is diminishing as hardware is becoming a commodity. “The cost of hardware used to be sixty to seventy percent of the total cost of Capex spend, but over time, this has decreased. It will also continue to decrease due to economies of scale and consolidation. This will, in turn, force consolidation within the vendor environment because fewer organisations are buying the kit. This is similar to the trend we are already observing in the telco environment where the margins are declining that they are forced to consolidate to survive for them to remain relevant.”