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IT Trends 2018: It has become critical to leverage tools that support innovation and differentiation



By Gary Middleton: Group Networking Senior Practice Director: DCN, Networking and Chris Wolf: CTO, Global Field and Industry, VMWare

Enterprises must embrace innovation and enable developers, by providing them with the tools and flexibility they need to create new business models, and support new application types. It’s the era of containerisation as enterprise and developers utilise modern development and deployment tools to deliver everything as a service to stay ahead of the game. Organisations will lose their competitive edge if they maintain the status quo.

The speed of innovation

There’s no industry that isn’t moving at lightning speed. The pace of change and innovation is extraordinary, putting pressure on businesses to continually evolve, release products to market, and invest in relentless growth. This is impacting the infrastructure that underpins the organisation, and the applications that are needed to push process and business even faster.

It’s essential that every organisation – in every sector and vertical – is on the lookout for tools that inject vitality into the business – more speed leads to rapid deployment and quicker results.

In addition, it’s vital that IT be capable of embracing the solutions and services that enable the business to achieve these speeds while ensuring agility and capability. It’s easy to build applications that add to the clutter, but more effective to build those that streamline and transform.

The pace of innovation suggests the likelihood that organisations who aggressively embrace new tools and business models – and make these available to their development teams – are the ones who are more likely to succeed.

The core of the container

The business has to find a way of accessing and acquiring services that land quickly , giving them the ability to adapt to whatever the future may hold. This mindset requires a very different architecture; application code that can run an app anywhere; the flexibility to move forward at any time; a network that’s self-healing, self-learning and capable of adjusting on demand.

Just building this level of organisational discipline forces IT to think about what it truly means to be agile.

Engineers are required to transform their skill set in order to remain relevant in today’s market, and to deliver at the pace that the business demands. The evolution in software and automation, packaging software and networking infrastructure demands scalability and agility on an unprecedented scale.

Containers provide the enterprise with the ability to modernise legacy applications, create born-in-the-cloud applications, and develop solutions that are both scalable and agile, all within containerised environments that work in concert with legacy applications given the right approach to infrastructure.

An edge to success

Building with containers can add business value, but a common mistake organisations make is to assume that they now have to rebuild everything, and that legacy systems face endless overhaul with endless cost. The reality is that containers should leverage some of what’s already available in the organisation, while additional investments are carefully considered for the best possible end-to-end application environment.

Agility and speed may be important, but the business still has an infrastructure to maintain. Yes, the enterprise wants to embrace the faster, newer and shinier technology, but it needs to balance the conceptual capabilities of the containers versus the realities of running the business. Containerisation may allow for rapid development of solutions on demand, but it requires a steady hand and an awareness of its existing limitations.

Exploiting the software as a service (SaaS) revolution

Software-as-a-Service is a burgeoning trend in the market, allowing organisations to utilise capabilities, such as WebEx, Salesforce.com, and Office 365, giving them time to focus their resources on delivering better infrastructures. SaaS removes the need to manage systems that supports routine tasks – such as expense claims – allowing IT teams to free up resources to embrace the core of their business, such as building services for their clients.

Businesses that are reaping the benefits of the SaaS revolution are successfully accelerating their digital transformation, by utilising SaaS for non-differentiating processes.

Similarly, an emerging technology that’s proving just as impactful as containers and SaaS is functions as a service (FaaS), or server-less computing. It’s proving to be a far simpler method, in that instead of writing a full application, you can simply write a function and aggregate functions together to form a task. This is already proving useful when computer processing is needed on–demand, like batch processing or the Internet of Things, and enables compute capacity to be shut down when not needed resulting in cost savings and efficiency gains.

To embrace the concepts of containerisation, SaaS, FaaS, and the inevitability of innovation, there are some key ideas that you need to embrace to ensure success:

  1. Opt into new applications that deliver on the premise of speed and agility.
  2. Be prepared for the impact of automation. It’s the era of infrastructure as code and infrastructure for automation.
  3. Not everyone is going to change, but if you’re prepared to accept that you need to reinvent yourself every five years, then you are more prepared than most.
  4. If your infrastructure isn’t nimble, then you won’t have the right foundation to enable all the agile applications that have just emerged from your containers.
  5. Infrastructure is going to evolve and become capable of being flexible enough to be provisioned when needed and deprovisioned after it has been consumed.

View Dimension Data’s Digital Infrastructure 2018 IT Trends.

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