The primary goal for most CTOs is to ensure that the right technology is leveraged to meet the needs of the business. Essentially defining and executing the best way for IT to be provided, consumed and supported whilst ensuring the delivery of that service is resilient, secure, scalable and stable. These outcomes are reflected in the way corporate Data Centre architectures have been created over the last 20 years.
Once business requirements were gathered, industry best practice designs would typically be rigorously tested and deployed across the organisation and for a short time the business benefitted from a new platform to host their applications. IT infrastructure would be supported in much the same way as previous generations – no alignment to or understanding or what services or applications were leveraging or dependant on it. Some minor performance and efficiencies were gained however the architecture largely remained the same and was only reassessed every three years as part of a hardware refresh cycle.
Thanks to the consumerisation of IT, customer requirements and expectations are more demanding than ever, driving businesses to innovate and deploy new services quicker than ever before.
Internal IT organisations have to adapt and evolve at a pace which can’t be supported with traditional inflexible, monolithic legacy data centre architectures.
The perceived lower cost of public cloud services and the ability to be able to spin up resources quickly and independently of organisational governance and procurement frameworks, were seen as an attractive alternative for lines of businesses and were widely used as a faster route to market when internal IT provisioning couldn’t match the ease and speed of application deployment demands. This created the challenge of shadow IT, the hidden cost and risk of lines of businesses going around the IT organisation to access IT resources directly.
Multi-cloud environments can deliver significant benefits for organisations. Enabling applications to be developed and deployed faster also presents many new challenges; from ensuring that your applications are refactored and optimised to operate in a cloud environment, to ensuring data is secure and access and security policies are deployed and maintained consistently.
Redefining the Architecture
CTO’s embarking on digital transformation recognise that an on-premise, infrastructure-centric standard build approach no longer works in the agile world. Lines of business and cloud providers have extended the boundaries of traditional data centres into hybrid, multi-cloud environments. A new agile business architecture is required, combining the benefits of scale, simplicity and elasticity of cloud providers with a highly secure, automated, software-defined fabric on-premise infrastructure. By delivering such an environment, IT organisations can enable the ongoing success of the business.
The Software-Defined Data Centre
With closer alignment and a deeper understanding of the requirements of the applications (and more importantly the expected business outcomes) IT can think beyond how the infrastructure works to focus on what we want the infrastructure to deliver – the ‘intent-based’ approach.
Software-Defined Data Centre delivers an intent-based environment by translating defined business outcomes into a set of centrally managed portable policies that are applied to and travel with workloads wherever they reside.
This enables the agile enterprise to leverage a true hybrid cloud environment for applications and data, utilising a combination of on-premise, co-located and public cloud offerings as appropriate for maximum efficiency and flexibility, all with the confidence that a common set of segmentation, security and availability policies are applied consistently throughout the hybrid multi-cloud.
Management and orchestration of workloads across the hybrid cloud is achieved seamlessly through a single management console, allowing monitoring, configuration and visibility of applications and data stores that are dispersed across multiple cloud environments.
This opens up a whole new world, giving organisations the power to standardise how they operate while gaining the full benefits of a hybrid, multi-cloud environment. Applications can be deployed across both on-premise data centres and cloud environments with a common operating model and centralised visibility and control. Greater elasticity of resources is achieved with the simplification and control of cloud bursting to complement on-premise data centres. Risk is mitigated with the use of public cloud services by ensuring consistent segmentation, access control and isolation and it becomes easier for IT teams to manage hybrid environments effectively.
The Software-Defined Data Centre is pivotal for CTO’s in delivering an IT service to support an agile enterprise while retaining the level of control needed to ensure resilience, compliance and security.
If you are currently exploring a software-defined data centre or expanding your multi-cloud environment and want to understand what is possible, we would love to talk with you. You can contact the HighPoint team on +44 (0)1895 262 350 or by email at email@example.com.
Written by Neil Dearman, Head of Technology, HighPoint