Many businesses in 2018 are in some stage of an “infrastructure makeover”, whether that’s a complete move to the cloud, or upgrades to networks and infrastructure to meet compliance requirements of legislation such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). This means your IT team is likely to be feeling the pressure as they engage with various phases of development and deployment, in addition to their standard maintenance duties.
Already stretched thin, IT will also have to try and measure the impact of these changes on everyday network usage without clear visibility of the starting point and sometimes without a clear end goal.
However, there are technologies available that, when deployed strategically during an infrastructure makeover, allow IT to increase efficiency, manage networks more effectively and offer a higher quality of support — all of which ultimately allow for cost savings for the business.
What is becoming increasingly clear is that the traditional network has become a barrier for business agility. This is why many organisations are choosing to move either partially or entirely to a cloud-based model.
Moving to cloud does bring its own complexities — managing network traffic, bandwidth availability, and performance for example are all demanding on resources. In fact, a recent study by Riverbed Technology revealed that 93 percent of IT decision makers report cloud-related network issues with monthly regularity, due to outdated network infrastructure.
On the other hand, SD-WAN networks provide a solution for designing, deploying and managing distributed networks for cloud-connected businesses. They are fast replacing traditional wide area networks, becoming the ideal choice for organisations attempting to integrate better with SaaS and cloud-based infrastructure.
As is the case with most business decisions; saving money and maximising resources are critical factors when it comes to choosing to deploy infrastructure makeovers. SD-WAN implementation leads to the recognition of these benefits by both business owners and the IT team. Traditional IT designs of using MPLS and back-hauling everything to the data centre for Internet breakout is becoming more cumbersome as the business adopts SaaS and Cloud. SD-WAN manages this evolution by taking advantage of additional sources of bandwidth, such as broadband Internet, which is less expensive than relying on traditional MPLS for connectivity.
Implementing SD-WAN not only reduces the cost of connectivity, but also allows organisations to appreciate the flexibility and savings of cloud-based services. As an added bonus, the discipline of automation that SD-WAN brings to the table will ensure that all devices will have a uniform configuration — increasing overall security. This in turn means that the day-to-day support issues should go away due to the automation that SD-WAN provides, giving back valuable time to the IT teams responsible for operational tasks, who can then focus on other areas of business such as supporting internal users and customers: a win-win for everyone.
The term virtualisation in the context of technology and how it fits into any infrastructure transformation initiative, typically refers to the virtualising of hardware — the most prevalent of which is servers and it’s where an organisation should start when transforming their infrastructure. For small to medium-sized businesses, server virtualisation is the best choice for driving digital initiatives without incurring a large cost, whilst also taking advantage of previous investments in hardware. Ultimately, virtualised environments can be created on existing resources, so further hardware purchase is not required. In addition, virtual environments can emulate different machine types and operating systems. For any business looking for a larger migration to the cloud or wanting to take advantage of containers, virtualisation is a great option as both of these approaches are largely built in virtual environments.
As organisations execute their cloud strategies and set about updating their infrastructures accordingly, microservices can play a major role. It has become critical for businesses to deploy applications that are cloud-ready or cloud-based in order to support the expectations of today’s consumers, and microservices have become the preferred architectural structure of these apps.
To be able to deliver a more scalable and flexible application environment, it’s important to break down the imposing and ingrained legacy application into independent components that will work together. Using a microservice architecture will allow for repeated deployment and delivery of large,complex applications, which is a huge advantage for development, the DevOps team and the overall IT team.
It also enables an organisation to evolve its technology and provides the ability to scale, thus leading to increased resilience with time — all the outcomes that you would want from a successful infrastructure makeover.
Microservices also reduce the chance of prolonged outages. With microservices, organisations are able to identify and rectify an offending container and instantly bring up replacements or solutions. Thus ensuring that hiccups are just that — a minor blip instead of prolonged outage. With traditional three-tier app design, you can’t easily slot in a replacement, and as a result, outages can be long and detrimental to the business.
There is no doubt that an infrastructure makeover is essential for any organisation that wants to stay competitive in today’s high performing, digital world. The time has come to update legacy systems that are holding the business back from being able to respond in an agile and efficient way to market demands. Utilising technologies such as SD-WAN, virtualisation, containers and microservices will help to ensure these infrastructure makeovers are undertaken in the least painful way, whilst minimising cost. In turn, this allows companies to stay ahead of the curve, whilst IT in particular can evolve and better execute initiatives without having to compromise on the service it provides.