In this digital age, it can seem that technology has the power to singlehandedly determine the success or failure of an organisation. Yet many businesses are struggling to adapt in the face of a challenging paradox: balancing the need for IT to support new ways of doing business whilst simultaneously fostering future innovation, writes Alex Guillen, Technology Strategist at Insight UK.
With organisations across Europe planning to increase their investments in digital transformation by nearly £10m over the next two years, according to the Insight Technology Index, there are certain pitfalls they need to overcome. Converting legacy systems and migrating processes to the cloud with minimal disruption are highlighted as particular challenges. Even though businesses want to move into the future, they’re unsure how to get there.
Ultimately, to guarantee IT is benefiting, not obstructing, an organisation, it must run workloads efficiently. Sprawling data centres are out — the new environment is an amalgamation of compact, on-premises infrastructure and agile cloud computing. This type of hybrid environment can be highly tailored to suit organisation’s current and future needs, even as they evolve, cancelling out the aforementioned paradox. To reach this stage there are four steps to creating smarter workloads.
- Turn to hyperconverged infrastructure
In today’s hyper-competitive world, organisations need agility in every aspect of their business to cope with the constant pace of change. Traditional data centres are simply unable to keep up under this weight of expectation. However, these data centres aren’t dead. Rather, they need an upgrade.
Hyperconverged Infrastructure (HCI) provides an alternative that allows legacy data centres to fit the ever-changing needs of 21st century businesses. HCI contains storage, virtualisation, network, computing and software components in a single, compact node. As a small appliance that can be provided as a pre-integrated and pre-tested solution, deployment can be much quicker than traditional legacy systems. The pièce de résistance is that HCI is affordable, so organisations can start scaling with just two nodes and add more as those reach capacity, depending on requirement.
- Embrace hybrid environments
If organisations are committed to truly transforming their infrastructure in order to keep up with the demands of modern business, then they must consider migrating to a hybrid cloud environment – where a mixture of on-premises infrastructure and public and private clouds are used to ensure that workloads are always placed in the infrastructure that offers the best balance of performance and cost. In this scenario, most organisations will need to design their hybrid cloud architecture to cope with the demands of legacy applications. The trick is to ensure the architecture allows new cloud services and technologies to be added and removed from your environment as business needs change. This is solved through allowing workloads to move between infrastructure as costs and computing needs change. The versatility of a hybrid cloud environment allows for greater flexibility, ultimately aiding businesses in their bid to stay competitive.
- Failure to prepare is preparing to fail
When evaluating the potential benefits of a hybrid environment, it’s tempting for organisations to jump the gun and start migrating immediately. However, this approach is not without its pitfalls. Organisations can encounter a wide range of issues that hamper the process. This invariably leads to a situation where the only option left to remediate the issue is to undo their work to date and reverse the migration – subsequently losing time, functionality and money in the process.
This process of ‘unclouding’ serves to highlight an important step in the migration process by emphasising the need to create a detailed map of the organisation’s journey before it embarks on the task. It goes without saying that you need a highly deliberate approach to cloud migration, starting with a good, hard look at internal processes, personnel, and current and future needs, before making rash decisions.
- Smarter security
According to the Insight Technology Index, IT professionals cite security as the top problem relating to managing data centre needs. It’s a pressing issue that shows no signs of abating. Over the last few years, security has become a major pain point, due in part to more employees working remotely through mobile devices. With greater numbers of employees checking email on smartphones and connecting to less-than-secure networks on the go, there are plenty of opportunities for threats.
In order to counter this challenge, security practices have evolved in tandem with the modern workplace. Tools such as Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) allow you to keep your data in the data centre where it belongs, whilst still allowing for mobility and empowering your workforce. As mobile devices become more prevalent, endpoint security is an essential tool to keep your cloud and data centre environment protected.
Incorporating these simple steps will greatly enhance any organisation’s ability to transform their workloads and operate with the agility and confidence that are essential in today’s digital-first world. Fairly simply, running workloads smarter is, without question, the smart choice.