April 21, 2016

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What is Digital Infrastructure?

The traditional role of IT Infrastructure is being rapidly reshaped by the global Digital Transformation of business. In the ultra-competitive global economy that presents unlimited opportunities for disruption and demands constant innovation the demands placed on IT are changing far more rapidly that many expected.

The success of your business is now determined by a combination of user experience, more appealing business models and rapid time-to-value. In this dynamic business environment expectations placed on IT leaders present an opportunity that demands fundamental change in the role of IT.

We are seeing an unparalleled remodeling of IT estates to better support the faster introduction of innovative new services and to drive disruptive business models.

Digital Infrastructure is defined by a focus on enabling business agility and powering user experiences that drive customer engagement and loyalty.

Business agility relates directly to your ability to rapidly respond to the changing needs of the business. Aspirations here need to be reframed with a realization that in the hyper-competitive world in which we all now operate Time is the most critical factor. Infrastructure must now focus on the rapid creation, build and deployment of new products and services.

The recent acceleration of take-up of cloud services typifies this change. Whilst cost saving is often touted as a key motivation for cloud migration, the reality for many new digital leaders is that the levels of business agility required for rapid delivery of the new class of experience-focused services heavily favors a cloud-native approach.

The ability to rapidly enable such services is a key element in any Digital Infrastructure and this drives a prioritization driven by a desire to quickly orchestrate new offerings that leverage existent capabilities wherever possible. A strong preference for consumption of pre-built cloud-hosted SaaS services dominates decision making and comes before any creation of new in-house assets. Any new user-focused services being built on a preferred PaaS platform that offers rapid creation, provisioning and easier management whilst leveraging standardized platform capabilities.

Agility is also driving investment in infrastructure technology and processes that support the quick delivery of new capabilities. Continuous Delivery and DevOps are good examples of digital work processes that focus on speed to value yet demand a corresponding Digital Infrastructure which can provision, deploy and manage services at will. The business requirement for almost instantaneous response brings an inevitable movement towards Automation as a key theme within Digital Infrastructure.

Automation brings three key benefits in the realms of cost, reliability and speed. Whilst the former is taken for granted, the focus on speed and reliability is often overlooked. In the new Digital landscape which is dominated by customer experience these benefits now come to the fore.

An ability to both Orchestrate and Automate business services delivered using internal and third-party providers is set to become the core competency and a central function within Digital Infrastructure.

Perhaps the most dramatic side-effect of the digital transformation of business is the recognition that what both business and IT leaders seek is the operation of an IT Utility.

Like any other traditional utility, in a digitally transformed business the IT infrastructure exhibits the very same demand and consumption behavior. Instant on (and instant off) with no human intervention and rock-solid stability is the new normal.

Your Digital Infrastructure must also offer the business a consumer grade experience, with easy discovery and click-to-consume services. And just like any other utility these services ‘just work’, are elastic and instantly scale to meet demand with no complicated processes impaired by human participation.

Whilst your transformed Digital Infrastructure is more agile and better able to rapidly deliver the capabilities demanded by the business it is also useful to consider how this is driving new features within infrastructure. In particular, the focus on the user experience is changing the definition of infrastructure to include far richer, high value services such as user experience management; advanced predictive and cognitive analytics now also expose automated action, meaning and understanding to all solutions running in this new digital landscape.

Whilst digital infrastructure grows to include new capabilities, dominated by the end to end themes of automation and orchestration, we must not lose sight of the way these in turn drive new behavior in the way we specify, consume and maintain infrastructure.

The business user demands that easy consumer-like experience, unlimited flexibility with instant delivery of value. So the final core attribute of your Digital Infrastructure is that it must truly be software-defined. Dependencies on compute, storage and networking services must be abstracted away and replaced by composed environments that can be assembled, reconfigured and broken apart ‘at will’ to offer a massively simplified estate that is totally embedded within and enables a far more agile business environment.

Join us at  Netherland India Business Meet 2016   to hear Alan Flower speak  on ‘The Age of Co-Creation- 21st Century Enterprise’