In today’s business world, companies are constantly looking for ways to streamline their overall operations.
From marketing to sales to frontline employees, from product development pipelines to project management protocols: companies are heavily invested in modernizing their people and processes to boost productivity throughout their organizations.
When it comes to a company’s daily IT operations, flexibility and productivity may seem more difficult to quantify or correct. With technology doing the work behind the scenes, the productivity of IT can be an afterthought. Provided you have the latest equipment and updated software, you’re fully modernized and as productive and flexible as you can be, right? The answer is often “no.”
That’s where adaptive infrastructures come in. Adaptive infrastructures are the future of IT modernization — allowing the technology system and businesses it runs to be more flexible, secure, stable, controllable and agile than ever before — and more productive for an entire business. An adaptive infrastructure is the foundation for modernization, and modernization delivers all of the benefits today’s businesses want throughout their organization: increased efficiencies, better productivity, and added profitability.
“Business processes and IT are so interdependent, that developing IT systems which can adapt easily — and almost immediately — to a changing business environment becomes critical for today’s companies,” says Chris Miller, Chief Technology Officer at Rolta|Advizex.
To drive the point home, Chris cites the example of today’s shopping climate: “Years ago, brick and mortar stores operated independently from online retailers. Today, a retailer likely operates in both spaces — and those two systems need to work collaboratively to deliver a homogenous experience for the end user. These interdependent systems also mean centralized insight into key business metrics and performance indicators: sales, inventory and tracking, etc.
“Almost everything in our lives now has a component of technology. Fifteen years ago, agricultural equipment was purely mechanical. Today’s tractors, broadcast spreaders and harvesters employ hundreds of sensors that are collecting large amounts of real-time data that’s doing things like analyzing soil conditions, humidity levels, crop growth rates. The equipment can then automatically adjust to take advantage of this data analysis, increasing crop yield and overall efficiency. Businesses are analogous to this equipment. Without the right sensors in place and the ability to adapt to changing conditions, the organization won’t effectively compete in the marketplace.”
Adaptive infrastructure provides your business with the ability to swiftly respond to change. On the most basic level, creating a software-defined adaptive infrastructure brings cloud-like capabilities to on-premises and hosted infrastructure, enabling a company to automate infrastructure management and service deployment. Decoupling capabilities from hardware and providing them in software allows for easier portability to public cloud and a common experience across both public and private clouds. These infrastructures are also easily updatable for what’s ahead: changing security needs, infrastructure changes, evolving consumption needs and more. Implementing a software-drive hybrid cloud infrastructure enables rapid adaptation to change without the need to purchase and implement new hardware. ▾
Adaptive infrastructure provides your business with an agile infrastructure that can respond swiftly to change.
Getting the Right Adaptive Infrastructure into Place
Adaptive infrastructures are far from “plug and play” scenarios. For some businesses, it helps to have the service on premises, other organizations prefer a cloud-based service.
“It all comes down to the business outcome the company wants to achieve,” says Miller. “A cloud-based infrastructure should be considered from the perspective of the value it brings to the business. Then we can determine what the cloud solutions should look like based on those needs, and how we deliver against them.”
For example, imagine your organization is looking for a more streamlined digital workspace — like a healthcare environment where patient records need to be accessed from different endpoints at different times in different spaces. Seamless operations would be key, as would privacy and efficient updates. Explains Miller: “A business needs to consider how they consume IT. What does the experience need to look like? What are the business benefits adaptive infrastructures deliver? From there we don’t look at picking the right technology. Instead we look at how to make the technology work for our customer’s business needs.” In fact, as he explains it, sometimes this involves “stitching together” the technologies that are available from partners, such as Dell Technologies, AWS, Microsoft, VMware and HPE, to build out the right system. It can also allow for OPEX consumption models: all infrastructures can be financially consumed based on demand, allowing a company to scale larger or smaller as they require it.
Implementing a modernized, adaptive infrastructure also requires a bit of a learning curve, so it’s important to budget for the right service and support to operationalize the cloud into your unique environment. “Sometimes people make big changes, and then they try to manage it all at once,” says Miller. “They don’t give themselves time to learn and retool and reevaluate their approach. Our managed services are a perfect way to bring in a new technology that enables a business to move faster. That means we can help keep infrastructure available, operating efficiently and performing while the internal IT team gets up to speed on the overall operations.”
What Can You Expect in Terms of Efficiencies?
Modernizing to an adaptive infrastructure delivers not only a more customized approach to IT, it also delivers efficiencies in terms of overall IT anti-fragility.
“The infrastructure should be able to change based on the evolving needs of the company. This goes back to the flexibility benefit, but while unintuitive, it also means more stability for the company’s daily operations due to lower impact when things change. Adaptive infrastructure helps remove bottlenecks and issues, instead of creating them. It assures customer IT teams aim to embrace and adapt to changes in infrastructure to support a growing organization,” explains Miller.
That means different business units can be reined in to a more centralized place. “For many companies, an adaptive infrastructure can prevent business units from going to outside resources, buying services and using them on their own. Marketing contracts with one service. Accounting with another,” says Miller. “Implementing an adaptive infrastructure enables IT to rapidly meet the needs of the business removing the incentive for business units to attempt to solve problems without help from IT.”
Having systems in place across an entire organization also assures compatibility and that, in turn, delivers productivity. It brings control back to a centralized area, and puts the expertise back into the hands of the people who know and can service the business best.
“It is important that applications and infrastructure are properly governed by an organization. If we can give a company a cloud-like experience, and allow them to retain control yet change when required, that’s not only a win for IT governance, but also for the company as a whole. It allows IT to provide an incredible level of service to all areas of the business while ensuring that applications and infrastructure are secure, compliant, and managed in a consistent way,” says Miller.
Staying Ahead of IT Security
Modernizing to an adaptive infrastructure also delivers security benefits that are critical for any business. It allows your infrastructure to be reconfigured to meet changing security needs with lighting speed.
“Security threats can happen in an instant and an adaptive infrastructure assures you can mitigate those threats on the fly — providing the same level of security regardless of where the infrastructure runs,” explains Miller.
“For example, suppose a bad actor is on your network poking around. Without adaptive infrastructure, a security alert would be routed to an operations center, engineers would then queue and escalate a ticket to investigate, and these human processes take time – likely too much time, giving the bad actor more runway to exploit vulnerabilities. With an adaptive infrastructure in place, the security alert can be programmatically acted upon and the threat can be immediately mitigated by automation systems. Because adaptive infrastructure is software defined and programmable, it’s much simpler to create automatic responses to real-time conditions, including critical security changes.”
In summary, adaptive infrastructure is the foundation for a modern approach to IT. As more organizations adopt public cloud technology, failing to modernize by implementing an adaptive infrastructure creates a significant rift between the capabilities of public and private service delivery. Adaptive infrastructure enables a cloud-like experience for IT and provides the software-defined programmatic interfaces required to bring the public cloud experience to on-premise infrastructure and serves as the foundation supporting an agile enterprise. ▪