The Everywhere Enterprise: A Gartner Q&A With David Cappuccio

Today, infrastructure is everywhere and constantly evolving as I&O leaders face increasing pressure to govern dynamic application environments and ensure optimized costs.


Cloud migrations picked up at the onset of the coronavirus outbreak as organizations shifted to support remote work. However, some workloads had to remain on-premises.

Ahead of the virtual Gartner IT Infrastructure, Operations & Cloud Strategies Conference — 7 to 10 December 2020 in the Americas and EMEA — Smarter With Gartner asked David Cappuccio, Conference Chair and Distinguished VP Analyst at Gartner Research & Advisory, for insight on how traditional infrastructure and operations (I&O) teams are adapting to the new normal and how I&O leaders can tackle their most imminent challenges.

What is the difference between cloud infrastructure and data centers?

From an IT planner perspective, the primary difference between cloud and data center infrastructures revolves around how you deliver a given workload to your business. A simplified view is that data centers own the physical infrastructure and deliver business value via that infrastructure.

Alternatively, some organizations use a cloud infrastructure to deliver that workload, using the cloud provider’s physical infrastructure and paying for consumption of resources, rather than the physical infrastructure.


With the rise of cloud computing, how are traditional enterprise data centers adapting and evolving?

Most data centers owners have realized that while cloud computing may not be the answer to all of their problems, it still needs to be a part of every application or workload delivery conversation. In some cases, cloud computing could be an ideal solution; for instance, when high availability websites or applications require rapid scale, up or down.

In other cases, on-premises computing may be the best solution; for example, when data location is critical or latency-sensitive applications are involved. The end result is a hybrid world where the focus is to deploy workloads from the best location to solve business problems.


What are the benefits of cloud computing compared with data centers?

Gartner clients consistently tell us that the real benefits of cloud computing are enterprise agility — or developing and deploying workloads quickly — and the ability to move toward a consumption-based solution where heavy investment in IT infrastructure is no longer required. However, migrating to the cloud is not simple, as there is a significant impact on I&O skills, tools, governance, process and cost management, to name a few.

For data centers themselves, the core benefits are those that have been around for years, namely total control of both the facility and IT computing environments. For mission-critical applications, especially those with tight audit or compliance requirements, or those requiring specialty hardware/software, on-premises data centers will remain viable solutions.


Gartner says that modern “infrastructures are everywhere.” What does that mean?

For the past decade, the number of options that IT and the business have had for deploying computing workloads has continued to grow, whether it’s on-premises, colocation, hosting, cloud computing (IaaS, PaaS, SaaS) or edge computing. In most enterprises, the answer for where to deploy workloads is “all of the above,” which means that the infrastructure for IT services is no longer just in the data center but essentially is everywhere. And yet, even though it’s out of sight, IT is still responsible for that service.

Gartner predicts that by 2025, 85% of infrastructure strategies will integrate on-premises, colocation, cloud and edge delivery options, compared with 20% in 2020.


Although migrations to the cloud picked up during COVID-19, some workloads had to remain on-premises. How can I&O leaders improve enterprise data center delivery while reducing costs?

The interest in cloud migrations has increased due to COVID-19, but the focus was often driven by data center teams rethinking their delivery models around the idea of what services must remain on-premises versus which ones could be safely migrated elsewhere.

Once enterprises completed such analysis, the focus shifted to optimizing costs and increasing efficiencies for on-premises delivery of the remaining workloads. The options to do so were via hyperconverged solutions, increased floor and rack densities, increased automation and consolidation of redundant systems or offerings. 


What are the biggest challenges facing I&O leaders today?

IT leaders today are dealing with competing objectives: to keep the lights on — running mission-critical applications while protecting the business from outages — and to enable the business to react to market changes quickly and adopt new technologies or services when they need them (not necessarily when IT is ready or has the cash to spend on them).

Essentially, I&O needs to develop a toolbox of choices that enable the rapid development and deployment of services, but at the same time set the guide rails for the infrastructure delivery model.

During this year’s Gartner IT Infrastructure, Operations & Cloud Strategies Conference, my colleagues and I will discuss how I&O leaders must adapt and innovate IT to deliver competitive advantage and keep core systems operational and resilient in a world that is full of disruptions, such as COVID-19.