4 Predictions for I&O Leaders on the Path to Digital Infrastructure

January 26, 2022

Contributor: Meghan Rimol

Support digital transformation by increasing infrastructure automation, modernizing legacy applications and considering as-a-service cost models.

Infrastructure is changing as enterprises accelerate digital transformation. In a cloud-first and increasingly automated world, infrastructure and operations (I&O) leaders must rethink how infrastructures are utilized and managed. 

“As cloud computing continues to grow, application portfolios are becoming more diverse and more hybrid,” says Thomas Bittman, Distinguished VP Analyst at Gartner. “Strategic infrastructure standardization, modernization and automation efforts will be critical for successful digital transformation.”

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These four Gartner predictions will help you navigate the path to digital infrastructure platforms and prepare your enterprise for the future of infrastructure.

Gartner Prediction No. 1: By 2025, 70% of organizations will implement structured infrastructure automation to deliver flexibility and efficiency, up from 20% in 2021.

According to the Gartner 2021 I&O Leaders Survey, 80% of respondents consider automation as a top tactic to achieve cost optimization. Yet, many I&O organizations struggle to know where and how to start with infrastructure automation, leading to hesitation and missed opportunities.

Infrastructure automation should be seen as an ongoing discipline, as it requires proper planning and coordination to drive productivity. Creating a dedicated team can help ensure scale, efficiency and consistency. When beginning an automation journey, focus on productivity and efficiency as initial drivers, enabling teams to offload routine work to automation and improve the volume of work that can be executed. As infrastructure automation matures, cost optimization will emerge as a key output.

Gartner Prediction No. 2: By 2025, only 50% of enterprises will develop skills for infrastructure automation across hybrid and multicloud platforms, up from less than 10% in 2021.

Many I&O organizations have focused automation initiatives on tooling technology selection, rather than skills and role development. In fact, the survey showed that a top challenge for IT I&O organizations is insufficient skills and resources. Without the relevant skills, automation technologies become “black boxes” that aren’t well understood or integrated. 

Shift perspectives on infrastructure automation by focusing on developing a mix of skills and roles to achieve business goals, such as efficiency and agility across on-premises, cloud and edge. Defining the roles of designers and architects to support automation is essential to ensure that automation works as expected, avoids significant errors and complements other technologies. 

Read more: I&O Professionals: Develop Emerging Technology Skills in 6 Key Areas

Gartner Prediction No. 3: By 2027, 35% of application workloads will not be optimal or ready for cloud delivery, down from 55% in 2022.

Today, about 10% of all workloads are cloud-native applications, and the majority of new development is cloud-native. Infrastructure will soon reach a state where approximately one-third of workloads will run in the cloud, one-third can migrate or move to the cloud with increased complexity, and one-third will not run in the cloud because of complexity, performance, economics or regulatory constraints. 

I&O must optimize infrastructure delivery for each application based on these categories. Lifting-and-shifting applications and workloads will lead to suboptimized delivery, increased costs and further complexity. Standardizing infrastructure by modernizing or rationalizing legacy applications will enable more applications to be ready for cloud delivery, driving down costs.

Gartner Prediction No. 4: By 2025, 40% of newly procured premises-based compute and storage will be consumed as a service, up from less than 10% in 2021.

Cloud computing has trained users to leverage on-demand, operating expenditure (opex)-based solutions, many on a pay-as-you-go basis. As buyer sentiments and expectations shift, system providers have turned to financing their capital-intensive hardware products to offer them “as a service.” For example, emerging infrastructure offerings such as bare metal as a service and edge as a service fit this model. 

When considering compute, storage and networking as-a-service offerings, evaluate the trade-offs in agility, cost, control, performance, potential for lock-in and governance between a hyperscale cloud offering and dedicated infrastructure offered on a consumption basis. Optimize costs by choosing consumption-based infrastructure for applications that must be refreshed or redeployed but cannot be served from the public cloud. Eliminate or reduce unintentional costs by bringing the same cost tracking and analysis approaches to consumption-based services as those brought to public cloud services.

In short:

  • Increasing infrastructure automation will help enterprises achieve cost optimization, flexibility and efficiency, but only if they are successful in developing new skills.
  • As cloud computing expands, modernizing legacy applications will be critical for standardizing infrastructure.
  • More businesses are taking advantage of consumption-based payment models for compute and storage.

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