Ahead of the Gartner IT Infrastructure, Operations and Data Center Summit in Sydney in May, we asked Gartner research vice president and conference chair Michael Warrilow about the latest trends and developments in IT infrastructure and what Australian organizations are focusing on this year.
1. What major infrastructure and data center trends do you see in Australia in 2017?
First, we’re seeing a hybrid approach. Australian organizations are choosing a mix of on-premises and off-premises solutions – whether private cloud, public cloud, co-located and hosted solutions. They want more flexibility in how they deliver infrastructure and data center solutions. There are various issues involved in creating this hybrid mix, particularly IT cost optimization, regulatory and legislative requirements and supporting digital business.
To become more agile, many Australian organizations are developing skills in DevOps and cloud, as well as digital leadership. The alternative is to risk loss of relevance.
Infrastructure and operations (I&O) teams are starting to be included more in discussions about the Internet of Things (IoT). Gartner predicts that 40 percent of I&O teams will be impacted by their organization’s IoT initiatives by 2020, up from five percent today. They need to decide whether the network and servers are sized appropriately for new data and analytics requirements and whether secure storage is operating at scale.
In addition, there is more focus on cost optimization, which is a critical part of how Australian organizations are responding to business pressure, particularly in the financial services sector. Cost optimization does include cost-cutting, but the focus is still on creating value: eliminating those activities that are low value and reinvesting in higher value activities. These technology investments may make the enterprise generally more efficient and may even generate more revenue.
2. What are the major infrastructure and data center challenges in Australia in 2017?
The top issues that I&O leaders need to address this year include lower IT budgets, developing a cloud strategy, aligning with the business, modernising legacy applications and talent management.
As more organizations embrace digital business, I&O leaders must act quickly to create an enterprise data center strategy that's ultra-agile, scalable and responsive to change. It’s critical to adapt and demonstrate business value to ensure that I&O doesn’t become relegated to the role of custodians of legacy implementations, given the rise of business unit IT spending.
3. As demands for innovation and cost management escalate, and digital business evolves, what are the top impacts on infrastructure and operations?
New skills are required to take businesses to the next level, particularly in agility and cloud. The traditional IT staffing model steeped in engineering specialization will not scale for growth. Tying people's worth too tightly to a specialized application or technology typically inhibits innovation, hampers workforce reconfiguration and stymies professional development. Emerging technologies and new delivery platforms quickly create imbalances between the skills in hand and the skills needed for the future.
It’s also important to have the right leadership in place to develop digital business skills to focus on cost optimization and continuous product delivery. Going from being business aligned to being embedded in the business.
Existing IT models are also being challenged and not working, the majority of business critical storage is not being well managed, and few organizations have a service catalog that provides a well-defined portfolio of offerings to help with standardization, repeatability and speed. It’s a good indication that they’re not operating in an agile enough fashion.
4. What’s in store for container-based virtualization in 2017?
Interest in container adoption has rapidly expanded within Australian enterprises in the past two years. This lightweight version of virtualization raises the bar on what server virtualization and hypervisors can do, enabling businesses to respond in a more agile way. Developers are embracing it as a way to break down barriers, especially given I&O is generally one side of the fence for them. While there’s a lot of hype around containers, it’s still an emerging technology and isn’t mature yet.
To get containers to operate today, you’re probably better off running it in the cloud rather than trying to replicate what you’ve already done with virtualization in your data center. Explore where containers can help you with new challenges or where traditional virtualization couldn’t help you with. Think about whether you can do it in a more agile manner in those situations, so you’re not reinventing the wheel.
5. What do Australian businesses need to be thinking about in terms of infrastructure modernization this year?
You need to transition from being a reactive technology leader to being a disruptive driver of change – as a leader of digital platforms where innovation is rewarded. Place a greater focus on products rather than metrics; on agility and innovation over efficiency.
Your whole approach to procurement in the cloud era will need to be different. It’s important to have a more flexible range of suppliers – moving from long-term, multi-year relationships with established vendors to a more flexible mix of brokering technologies and services from new and innovative companies. This includes embracing some of the risk that transition involves to get a more business centric outcome, be closer to what the business needs and deliver solutions at the speed it wants. Focus on the external customer rather than the internal infrastructure silos.
Gartner analysts will explore the latest infrastructure and data center trends in more detail at the upcoming Gartner IT Infrastructure, Operations & Data Center Summit in Sydney, 15-16 May 2017.
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