Driving simplicity on the infrastructure modernisation journeyBlog
By Nathan Vandenberg, General Manager Data Center Practice, Dimension Data Australia and Troy Mangum, Senior Partner Marketing Manager NetApp
The automation of infrastructure management provides the platform for the organisations to drive value from the software-defined data centre
Constantly changing business environments are forcing organisations to adapt while reducing costs and simplifying operations. This, in turn, is driving the modernisation of the data centre across hybrid environments to meet the need for improved business agility. The resulting modern data centre infrastructures are leveraging software-defined architectures and technologies, such as hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) and flash-based storage, which are delivering new frontiers of agility, efficiency, performance, and flexibility.
The rise of cloud services in recent years created a rush to move applications to hyperscale cloud providers. However, in many instances this wasn’t appropriate. Issues such as incompatible application architectures, higher than expected costs, and increased security risks have made them rethink this strategy.
Organisations have taken the lessons learned from hyperscale cloud and are now looking to interact with their IT infrastructure as a set of services, both on a platform and a software level. Having a clear and simple view of your infrastructure and leaving the underlying complexity in the hands of your service provider, has become the overriding mantra for organisations.
There are several other components, in addition to HCI, that we’re seeing as essential in the creation of the modern data centre. These include flash-based storage, software-defined data centres (abstracting hardware into a pool of programmable assets in software), a data fabric which allows data to be moved between systems quickly and easily, automation, and management.
HCI is proving popular because of its modular nature. Being able to add modules of server and storage infrastructure in the data centre enables platforms to scale simply, better matching supply with demand.
What’s driving data centre modernisation
Modernising the data centre with HCI and other elements of a software-defined architecture means more powerful, faster and capable resources. Software-driven infrastructure deploys faster, allowing for easier changes and updates. But company-wide performance is about more than ‘speeds and feeds’ - it’s about where human resources spend their time. By tapping into the skills from trusted partners it’s possible to free your IT department to focus on working with the business to deliver against the strategic business objectives.
The focus of organisations today has moved from infrastructure-focused to application-focused. The architecture that drives the modern, digital organisation is driven by the need to find the right venue for each application, be that on-premise, in a hosted environment or with a hyperscale cloud provider.
Although applications are a focal point for organisations, the ability to manage the data that drives those applications is of almost greater importance. Data is the lifeblood of the modern organisation and the investments made in the modern data centre need to ensure that the increasing volumes of data are managed in a sustainable way.
Managing data is a critical part of delivering high levels of customer experience. To maintain strong customer experience, the modern data centre must intelligently leverage the automation capabilities provided by managed services organisations.
While automation is a key component of software-driven infrastructure’s ability to deliver services seamlessly to the users, the real value to an organisation remains in the ability to manage those automated processes, to gain the greatest business benefit.
Transitioning to the modern data centre
In order to exploit the potential of technologies such as HCI and flash, you should consider the following:
- Modernising your infrastructure on an application by application basis, assessing performance, security profiles, and the cost of operation.
- The ‘right’ location for any application depends on what it does, the data linked to it, and its value to the business.
- Be aware of governance and legal requirements, such as those imposed by the General Data Protection Regulations in the European Union.
- Ensuring that your network has the capacity to support any data centre project you embark on.
- Some apps are better suited to hyperscale cloud. Any cloud service which can’t be easily replicated in an on-premise data centre – e.g. machine learning – is bound to the cloud. Others, like core applications containing location-specific sensitive data, are likely candidates for on-premise.
- Maximise the value from your infrastructure investment though managed services.