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Don’t neglect the human element in digitalisation

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Kathy Gibson reports from Fujitsu World Tour in Johannesburg – Human beings are at the centre of innovation as the journey to digital innovation gets underway.
In the data centre, this involves driving a paradigm shift from hardware to a software-defined environment, says Udo Wurtz, chief evangelist: data centre business EMEA at Fujitsu.
Over the past couple of years, Wurtz explains, IT have moved from serving just a few thousand users in the mainframe era to millions of users in the client/server era. The so-called 3rd Platform, he says serve billions or even trillions of users through mobile devices and apps.
“We ae talking about the merging of the physical and digital worlds. We are collecting and analysing data to create new insights. So we are transforming into an information scenario.”
The problem, however, is that this makes the world very unpredictable as it’s not possible to know how much information will be collected in the future.
Data centre trends going forward, Wurtz adds, include :
* Workload re-alignment – by 2018, 65% of new data centre infrastructure investments are for systems of engagement rather than maintain existing systems of record.
* Hyperconvergence and SDx – by 2017, net generation of converged systems – optimised for flash and solid state drives (SSD), will drive more than 30% consolidations in internal data centre space and staff.
* Network transformation – by 2018, 80% of enterprises with transform their networks with software defined networking to connect diverse IT environments and facilitate new data flows.
* Smart data centre – by 2018, 60% of companies will use advanced automation to boost efficiency and tie data centre and IT spend to business value.
Enterprise trends, on the other hand, include:
* Digital transformation – 70% of infrastructure spend in 2018 to support 3rd Platform workloads.
* Commodity of infrastructure – 75% of data centre infrastructure purchase decision by 2018 will be dedicated to storage, including management, software defined, networking and software defined computing.
* Custom apps and 3rd Platform – this is being driven by a fresh wave of custom applications.
* Software-defined infrastructure (SDI) will cause job losses – by 2019, 25% of traditional IT operations and job titles will be eliminated by use of software defined infrastructures and cloud.
The challenge for infrastructure, says Wurtz, is considerable.
There are specific apps for business alongside apps for general purposes. There are external cloud services as well as virtualisation as part of the mix.
“Everything is server-, storage- and network-based at this point,” he says. “We are talking about hardware and manual operations. It gets complex because ll these infrastructures need to come together and work together.”
Lifecycle adds another element of challenge – with continuous change in technology and lifecycles keeping the environment fluid.
But the market has shifted, he adds. In the mainframe era, it was all about productivity; with client/server business processes came under the spotlight Now we see the human-centric approach, which means that knowledge creation is important.”
This means the way innovation is triggered has changed. In the past, says Wurtz, innovation came from the company whereas now customers are the trigger for innovations.
“However, are the infrastructures we have developed over the last years relevant for serving our customers today? They could be, but it might be very expensive.”
Software defined infrastructure could be the solution, Wurtz says, and there are four pillars underpinning this.
The first is capacity management, where IT offers in-time readiness; the second is configurations management, which allow for automated provisioning of IT resources, driven by the user; the third is an abstraction layer that lets IT separate the software from standardised hardware; and the fourth is multi-cloud management that provides seamless integration and management of cloud services.
“Together, these form the software-defined data centre, and may include consulting and services as well.”
He steps on the journey start with hardware efficiency, followed by server virtualisation, then the software defined data centre, followed by cloud enablement and finally flexible on-demand sourcing.
End users are at various stages of the journey, Wurtz says, depending upon their own customers’ needs and wants.
“At Fujitsu we are able to deliver all of these stage,” he adds.
Today’s data centre is overwhelmingly hardware-based, Wurtz adds. But the new-age companies like Amazon and Google are not constrained in this way, he says.
“We believe the software-defined data centre is the solution,” Wurtz says. He adds that this allows for independent provisioning and support in terms of virtual machines, server adapters, storage partitions, networks and appliances.
“This reduces complexity while increasing security, And, in future, the software will be able to provision its own resources as needed.
“What this means is that the world is moving past the traditional IT environment to a world where the physical infrastructure is merged, and managed through a software layer.”
And ultimately, Wurtz adds, this will allow the business to innovate according to customer requirements, and increase competitive advantage.
However, it means that the IT environment – and the networking topology – will have to change. Wurtz says the new network looks a lot different to the traditional topology, with a flatter architecture that requires less components, and less complexity. If its software defined it also east to scale.
Network security becomes a lot more complex, mainly because many more users are accessing the system in many different ways. On the other hand, the CIO now has access to the network virtualisation layer so security can be better managed and enhanced.