Speed Matters More Than Size

Image credit: iStockphoto/alphaspirit

Where once a business needed to be big to succeed, today it needs to be fast, requiring agile and flexible IT infrastructure.

This was one of the points made at the inaugural CDO Australia Summit by Matthew Hurford, vice president of systems engineering and chief technology officer for the Asia Pacific at NetApp.

Presenting with Glen Hastings, channel director for Equinix in the Asia Pacific, on the subject of ‘Empowering Organisations to Build Cloud on their Terms,’ Hurford made the point that “speed has become the new scale.”

“Customer differentiation and the customer experience is how you differentiate your experience in a digital work,” said Hurford.

“And having services in private and public clouds and having flexibility on moving them around is what organizations are doing today.”

No room for traditional IT thinking

Hurford said modern organizations were thinking about IT very differently today. Where it used to be a silo servicing the business, today’s digital businesses are built on data, and in that context, IT has become core.

“Having a data strategy is absolutely foundational to being successful in a digital world,” he said.

Organizations were increasingly taking an “application-specific view” on how they ran their operations. Understanding what was needed made them effectively a “cloud provider to the business.”

“It’s about building a service catalog and integrating that into things like ServiceNow,” said Hurford.

“It's about API integration to build portals to consume IT with chargeback and show back in a continuous loop. Because the job of vendors is to drive costs and legacy slowness out of the environment.”

Multicloud play

Hurford said most organizations were looking at how they could use multiple clouds to deliver new services. And while they may start with a single cloud hyperscaler, the goal was to build a “data fabric” across multiple clouds.

The key to the new environment is flexible consumption models. He quoted the example of a client organization in the financial services sector that wanted to take their operations into the cloud but were uncertain of the timetable.

“They asked for a consumption model on-prem and burst into the cloud and have a model which sustains that, and we said yes you can,” said Hurford.

A second driver was around the move from VMware and towards containerization.

“This is all about speed and decoupling architectures, and moving workloads between clouds, and that should be seamless to the people you are hiring,” said Hurford.

“The problem we had is that we were spending so much time managing architectures that we didn’t deliver the results. Now we are saying that you don’t need proprietary file systems; you need to have a secure platform where you can integrate data services into applications and toolsets.”

AI as an infrastructure differentiator

Another mantra was that costs and risks should not increase, making artificial intelligence key.

“The days of herding spreadsheets are gone; you need to have advanced AI optimization built into your services,” said Hurford.

“You need AI algorithms so they can detect anomalies on how data is being used across your clouds. You might have virtual desktops inside the cloud; you need to have a product set delivering the right Virtual Desktop Infrastructure at the right price point, so you are paying the lowest price for what you are consuming.”

Rewording cloud exchange

From Equinix, Glen Hastings took up the theme of the “cloud fabric.”

He said that Equinix used to use the term “cloud exchange.” Still, the word fabric was now much more appropriate as organizations moved their applications to the edge and needed to make them available at scale in different environments.

Bare metal was an increasingly attractive option to “fire up virtual network functions.”

“The fabric is evolving in terms of what it can do,” said Hastings. “It's about taking advantage of the things we know today, but don’t also know, because they will also be able to connect with our fabric when you need to use them.”

Lachlan Colquhoun is the Australia and New Zealand correspondent for CDOTrends and DigitalWorkforceTrends, and the editor of NextGen Connectivity. His fascination is with how businesses are reinventing themselves through digital technology and collaborate with others to become completely new organizations. You can reach him at [email protected].

Image credit: iStockphoto/alphaspirit