Digitally Speaking
In digital the spending between business innovation and digital platforms is balanced

Chris Gabriel
June 13, 2019

The world is awash with digital transformation excitement.

Digital is happening around us all day, every day, in the way we work, socialise, learn, purchase goods, entertain ourselves, live in our cities and receive treatment by the health service. And in large or small ways, digital is changing, augmenting or transforming the way things are done in every industry.

Some of those digital things delight us and we adopt them with speed and passion and never look back. And many of those digital things are foisted upon us and take a while for us to accept or enjoy our lives being digitised for us.

In digital the spending between business innovation and digital platforms is balanced

According to International Data Corporation (IDC), global DX (Digital) spending will reach $1.18trillion in 2019, an increase of 17.9% over 2018.  Over the next four years, an additional $4trillion will be spent by organisations on digital initiatives that they hope will give them a competitive edge or, in the case of government, better serve the needs of their population.

So, with just over £5trillion of investment in the next few years, where is all that money going?  IDC’s research paints a picture of the business and the CIO having shared responsibility to use this growing pot of money to drive digital transformation.

What’s getting the businesses investment? Spending in autonomous operations ($52billion), robotic manufacturing ($45billion), freight management ($41billion) and root cause technologies ($35billion) show that digital investments are systemically changing industries. Boards are clearly realising the potential of making the world a smarter, more efficient, more productive and more reliable place.

But, according to IDC, it’s the CIO who is being given the lion’s share of this investment pile, building and operating the underlying infrastructure that digital businesses will now rely on.

In fact, hardware and digital services to develop, integrate, and support digital will grab 75% of all digital spend in 2019.

Connectivity ($102billion), IT Services ($154billion) take 25% of all spending, and enterprise hardware from cloud infrastructure to enterprise servers, storage, and end devices will devour $253billion between them.

Adaptable and progressive – innovation will power the best digital platforms

If one thing jumps out at me from the IDC survey it is that the stuff being invested in by the business sounds a lot cooler than the connectivity, IT services and hardware that the CIO is building to support new digital business models.  It feels big on ideas and big on business impact. It feels full of AI and machine learning, autonomous and automation.  If you pardon an old man trying to sound cool – it sounds dope.

If the business stuff sounds transformational; the IT stuff sounds transactional.

But, while the names for the near 75% of digital foundations purchased by IT sound the same as they ever were (we have been buying connectivity and servers for decades), the new generation of platforms that will support digital initiatives are just as progressive as the autonomous, AI, predicative, smart machines and things that will rely on them.

Today’s networking engineer must be as familiar with automation as their autonomous factory colleague.  Today’s data centre server specialist must be adept at automating the provision of applications and their container services to any location as their AI enabled supply chain colleagues.  Today’s security specialist will be using more AI to secure their business than their colleagues developing the next intelligent health screening system.

And of course, in a world where DevOps is creating a flood of new digital applications, your networking, data centre, cloud or security engineer of the future will also be disruptive developers.

Cisco, the company that connected the world through the internet, has over 600,000 members of their development community DevNet; pushing the potential of digital platforms as much as any Apple or Android games developer community ever has on those funkier platforms.

And while IDC classifies lots of spending in hardware, today there is really no such thing as a hardware driven IT strategy.  The network switch, the physical server, the security appliance, are now hosts for software that is transforming once static IT hardware into a new generation of highly adaptable digital platforms.

We live in a world of Software Defined, where digital platforms can be integrated, automated, developed and adapted to the exact requirements of every part of the digital business model.  And of course, in the digital world it is crucial that they can.

If 75% of the investment companies are making into digital business models is being directed at the underpinning digital platforms, the pressure is on those platforms to support transformation over time.  In the old world, big technology platforms support static business models, and were complicated and slow to change.  In the digital world, in the application world, agile is everything.

That $800billion of investment must provide a perfect digital service in a changing world, from the first sensor or robot installed in the autonomous factory, or connected asset, or intelligent building to the last.  There is no room for the status quo in the digital world; change is a given.

So, CIO’s will use their money wisely and become the hotbed for progressive digital platforms that will ensure that £1.18trillion delivers maximum economic return for the organisations and the society that will be transformed not overnight, but over time.

 

Category: Hybrid IT

Data storage

Gary Lomas
April 5, 2019

Three quarters of UK enterprises with 500+ employees think their current data environment/ storage infrastructure ‘does not meet their needs well’: but what are they planning to do about it?

The storage landscape is changing rapidly as businesses strive to deal with an ever-increasing volume of data. To discover more about the challenges of operating current storage infrastructures and what this means for near-future storage strategies, we surveyed those at the sharp end of the data explosion to create ‘The State of Data Storage in UK Enterprises’ research report.

Download the report

 A snapshot

The three biggest challenges of operating current storage infrastructures

  • Security and compliance
  • The complexity of diverse systems
  • An over-stretched IT team

The three biggest storage headaches for 2019

  • Security and compliance
  • Increasing volumes of data
  • Choosing the right storage option for specific business needs

These pressures are creating major headaches for IT professionals, who must manage and monitor ever-expanding storage infrastructure while keeping an accurate and up-to-the minute view of available capacity. The task is further complicated by the multitude of storage options now in common use – including on-premise, public and private cloud, and hybrid solutions – and exacerbated by the current scarcity of skilled and experienced IT staff.

Preparing for the challenge of Artificial Intelligence and IoT

The report highlights a spike in the accumulation of unstructured data. New technology – from machine learning to IoT and AI – is creating an avalanche of digital information. And of course, new data compliance regulations mean that more information must be safely stored in a way that also makes it easy to find, retrieve and, if necessary, delete.

For respondents who indicate an intention to adopt new storage technology in 2019, the drivers behind investment mirror the challenges they currently face. The highest number (22%) want to replace legacy infrastructure, while 16% want to add capacity and 13% want new storage technology to help them fulfil security or compliance obligations. 15% of respondents want to simplify their storage management processes and 20% are keen to add scalability to their storage infrastructure, so they can easily boost or reduce capacity as circumstances dictate.

Explore our in-depth research on the biggest challenges associated with operating current storage infrastructures and how your peers are planning to tackle them.

Category: Hybrid IT

Team Logicalis
January 2, 2019

Business leaders around the world are discussing a common dilemma: how to create transformative and creative experiences and business models that improve their customer’s lives, drive growth and boost profitability.

What was once a predictable operating landscape where five-year strategies punctuated by major IT investment was the norm, is now fast being replaced by a rapid series of digital business initiatives, platform redesigns and line of business-driven demands. The inexorable rise in customer expectations characterised by a growing demand for seamless, on demand experiences with real-time feedback where expectations aren’t met, is forcing businesses to fundamentally rethink the role which IT plays in supporting staff, partners and customers in the pursuit of service improvement.

For most companies, the strategic imperative should not just to be doing things right and more efficiently. Leaders must also determine the right things to do. Now is the time to reflect and consider the fundamentals of value created by technology investment. Customers’ own choice has never been more readily available, their ability to select services at a global scale and switch to alternative solutions, is a reality every business needs to address.

New disruptive pure-play companies whose businesses have been conceived and built in a digital world have arrived. Faster, simpler and better optimised, these businesses are the legacy players. Category disruptors like AirBnB or Uber have successfully challenged existing business models and by doing so changed their sectors forever. Today’s competitive marketplace requires a different and deeper level of change; reinvention of core services, transformation of process and the wider integration of technology and frameworks across open platforms.

The broadly accepted premise that the Cloud could provide the new levels of innovation required to transform business is certainly true for those willing to go “all-in” and develop new service offerings born and built in the cloud. However, transforming an established business into a Cloud native, agile and inventive organisation, requires not only a deep-rooted commitment at board level, but also a solid foundation of legacy intelligence, securely linked at every level to ensure business continuity and overall customer service integrity.

The big questions

The process of digital transformation starts with a very honest and open appraisal of the business today; what do you do well? Which services could generate greater profits or improve customer retention, if only technology didn’t get in the way? How could you unlock new revenue streams by reducing the time to market for new services, and by doing so reach the target audience before the competition?

Cloud Computing has fuelled some of the most successful business transformations in recent decades, not because of its cost or scale, but rather its ability to break down traditional methods of service and application development into collaborative, visual and user accessible environments. However, as with all things, this new-found agility comes with an increased exposure to the unknown, moving to cloud, developing on cloud and ultimately managing cloud, requires a completely fresh approach to IT operations and service management.

As such, many earlier adopters are finding cloud management a challenge they hadn’t fully prepared for. But help is at hand if it feels like understanding and navigating your way through this new landscape is a full-time job. Instead of tackling this transformation by yourself, you can enlist the help of a company that can underpin and enable your journey so your move to the cloud is as stress free as possible.

Category: Hybrid IT

Team Logicalis
May 10, 2018

As the benefits of hybrid IT have become clear, it has evolved from a temporary state to the chosen environment for many organisations looking to thrive.

Every organisation, regardless of size or sector, has a digital strategy. In fact, it’s hard to believe that IT once lingered on the fringes of business operations and decisions when today it is front and centre – a driving force behind both individual projects and overall business objectives.

And for the vast majority of organisations, it’s difficult to speak about digital strategy without mentioning cloud.

In fact, cloud’s ever-growing role and potential benefits are so widely publicised that it can feel almost unavoidable. After all, if your competitors adopt ‘cloud first’ strategies and you chose not to- don’t you risk getting left behind?

But, cloud doesn’t have to be all or nothing…

Enter hybrid IT

With hybrid IT, organisations can bring in cloud-based services that will run in parallel with their existing on-premise hardware. This may not necessarily be a new concept. However, its full potential is rarely realised.

Instead, more often than not, hybrid IT is built into digital strategies as a stepping stone to cloud and, as such, considered the transitional phase on a much bigger journey. It’s useful, but it’s also temporary… Simply a vehicle to get you and your organisation where you need to be by enabling you to join the elite and become a ‘cloud first’ company.

And it’s true, hybrid IT is a very useful tool for organisations looking to make the first small steps into a new cloud-centric world. You can test the waters by investing in new cloud-based technologies, without being all-in.

But hybrid IT can also open up the door to a whole new world of possibilities, enabling businesses to operate in- and therefore reap the benefits associated with- both on-premise and cloud environments.

Many organisations have started to realise this and- as a result- the concept of hybrid IT is transitioning from a temporary phase to a preferred way to do business. In fact, according to Gartner, by 2020 90% of organisations will have adopted a hybrid infrastructure.

But what are the key drivers behind this shift?

The best of both worlds

Traditional IT or cloud technologies… it used to be a one-stop choice that organisations had to make. And once you made it, all your application workloads and databases were assigned to one environment. You were effectively tied into that environment until you actively decided to change and, with significant effort and probably financial cost, you made steps to convert.

But, by using hybrid IT, organisations no longer have to commit to a single environment. They can have the best of both worlds and benefit from aligning specific workloads and applications to specific platforms. hybrid IT grants:

The scalability and cost efficiency of cloud technologies

There’s no doubt about it, scaling a traditional infrastructure can be very expensive. By making the most of hybrid IT- and utilising the public cloud and private cloud environments, businesses can upscale IT operations quickly and at minimal cost – which is particularly useful for shorter-term projects. But, it doesn’t stop there… with hybrid IT, organisations can also downscale their operations. In effect, everything can be driven to reflect the actual demands being placed upon the business, saving both resource and money.

And if organisations are saving resource in those areas, it leaves more room for innovation. The exciting new projects that often have to be pushed aside due to more pressing concerns, such as keeping the lights on, can become a reality.

The security and consistency of traditional IT

IDC recently discovered that the number one barrier to adopting cloud-based technologies continues to be security concerns – with 72% of business leaders agreeing it was a real issue. Whether these fears are well founded or not, the fact remains that- sometimes- public cloud may not meet an organisation’s strict security requirements. Hybrid IT grants peace of mind, enabling organisations to benefit from cloud technologies while keeping their most valuable and sensitive data on premise.

Hybrid IT is also often used in disaster recovery strategies. In our digital world, suffering an IT outage is every organisation’s worst nightmare. Why? Because the downtime that organisations suffer as a result can have a devastating and lasting impact, both financially and in terms of future reputation. By having primary data copied and stored in two different locations, organisations can recover faster while keeping downtime to a minimum.

Above all, hybrid IT gives organisations the freedom to make their own choices. It merges the best of old world technology with new world thinking. And, just as digital is no longer the sole territory of IT departments, it’s set to infiltrate the boardroom and play a key role in all future business decisions.

After all, hybrid IT is an enabler, allowing business leaders to make the right digital decision for their business, whether that is traditional IT, cloud-based technologies or a mixture of the two.

Contact us to find out more about Hybrid IT and how we can help you leverage it

Originally posted on Information Age, 24 April 2018

 

Category: Hybrid IT

Team Logicalis
July 25, 2017

The amount of data that businesses generate and manage continues to explode. IBM estimates that across the world, 2.3 trillion gigabytes of data are created each day and this will rise to 43 trillion gigabytes by 2020.

From transactions and customer records to email, social media and internal record keeping – today’s businesses create data at rates faster than ever before. And there’s no question that storing and accessing this data presents lots of challenges for business. How to keep up with fast growing storage needs, without fast growing budgets? How to increase storage capacity without increasing complexity? How to access critical data without impacting on the speed of business?

It’s increasingly obvious that traditional storage can’t overcome these challenges. By simply adding more capacity, costs go up for both storage and management. And manually working with data across different systems can become an administrative nightmare – adding complexity, and taking up valuable IT resource.

So, what can you do? It’s likely that you’ve already got an existing infrastructure and for many, scrapping it and starting again, just isn’t an option. This is where flash and software-defined-storage (SDS) could be your saviour. Flash and tape aren’t mutually exclusive, and by separating the software that provides the intelligence from the traditional hardware platform, you gain lots of advantages including flexibility, scalability and improved agility.

So I could add to what I already have?

Yes. Flash and tape aren’t mutually exclusive. Lots of businesses use a mix of the old and the new – what’s important is how you structure it. Think of it like a well-organised wardrobe. You need your everyday staples close at hand, and you store the less frequently worm items, also known in the UK as the summer wardrobe (!), where you can access them if you need them but not in prime position.

Your data could, and should work like this. Use flash for critical workloads that require real-time access and use your older tape storage for lower priority data or lower performance applications.

But won’t it blow my budget?

No, the cost of Flash systems has come down over the last few years and the lower costs to operate make savings over the long term. It’s been proven that the virtualisation of mixed environments can store up to five times more data and that analytics driven hybrid cloud data management reduces costs by up to 73%. In fact, we estimate that with automatic data placement and management across storage systems, media and cloud, it’s possible to reduce costs by up to 90%!

So how do I know what system will work for me?

Well, that’s where we come in. At Logicalis we’ve got over 20 years of experience working with IBM systems. Our experts work with clients to help them scope out a storage solution that meets their needs today, and the needs they’ll have tomorrow.

We start with a Storage Workshop that looks at the existing infrastructure and what you’re hoping to achieve. We’ll look at how your data is currently structured and what changes you could make to improve what you already have – reducing duplication and using the right solution for the right workload. We’ll then work with you to add software and capacity that will protect your business and won’t blow your budget.

If you want to hear more about the solutions on offer, feel free to contact us.

Category: Hybrid IT

Neil Thurston
April 25, 2017

Hybrid IT is often referred to as bimodal, a term coined by Gartner some four years ago to reflect the (then) new need for the simultaneous management of two distinct strands of work in a Hybrid IT environment – the traditional server-based elements on the one hand, and the Cloud elements on the other.

Since then, the two strands of the bimodal world have blended in various different ways. As they have engaged and experimented with new technologies, organisations have found that certain workload types are particularly suited to certain environments.

For example, DevOps work, with its strong focus on user experience elements such as web front ends, is typically well suited to cloud-native environments. Meanwhile, back end applications processing data tend to reside most comfortably in the traditional data centre environment.

The result is a multi-modal situation even within any given application, with its various tiers sitting in different technologies, or even different clouds or data centres.

The obvious question for IT management is this: how on earth do you manage an application which is split across multiple distinct technologies? Relying on technology to provide the management visibility you need drives you to traditional tools for the elements of the application based on traditional server technology, and DevOps tools for the cloud native side. Both sets of tools need to be continuously monitored. For every application, and every environment.

A new breed of tools is emerging, allowing you to play in both worlds at once . VMware vRealize Automation cloud automation software is a good example. Over the last three years, VMware has developed its long-standing traditional platform, adding Docker container capabilities, so that today vRealize is a wholly integrated platform allowing for the creation of fully hybrid applications, in the form of ‘cut-out’ blueprints containing both traditional VM images and Docker images.

This multi-modal Hybrid IT world is where every enterprise will end up. IT management needs clear visibility, for every application, of multiple tiers across multiple technologies – for security, scaling, cost management and risk management, to name just a few issues. Platforms with the capability to manage this hybrid application state will be essential.

This area of enterprise IT is moving rapidly: Logicalis is well versed, and experienced, in these emerging technologies both in terms of solution and service delivery, and in terms of support for these technologies in our own cloud. Contact us to find out more about multi-modal Hybrid IT and how we can help you leverage it.

Category: Hybrid IT

Neil Thurston
February 13, 2017

The explosive growth of Cloud computing in recent years has opened up diverse opportunities for both new and established businesses. However, it has also driven the rise of a multitude of ‘islands of innovation’. With each island needing its own service management, data protection and other specialists, IT departments find themselves wrestling with increased – and increasing – management complexity and cost.

Necessity is the mother of invention, and with cost and complexity becoming increasingly problematic, attitudes to Cloud are changing. Organisations are moving selected tools, resources and services back to on-premises deployment models: we’re seeing the rise of the Hybrid Cloud environment.

The trend towards Hybrid Cloud is driven by an absolute need for operational and service consistency, regardless of the on-premises/Cloud deployment mix – a single set of automation platforms, a single set of operational tools and a single set of policies. We’re looking at a change in ethos, away from multiple islands of innovation, each with its own policies, processes and tools, to a single tool kit – a single way of working – that we can apply to all our workloads and data, regardless of where they actually reside.

Disparate islands in the Cloud have also increasingly put CIOs in the unenviable position of carrying the responsibility for managing and controlling IT but without the capability and authority to do so. Many organisations have experimented (some might say dabbled) with cherry-picked service management frameworks such as ITIL.

With focus shifting to Hybrid Cloud, we’re now seeing greater interest in more pragmatic ITSM frameworks, such as IT4IT, pushing responsibility up the stack and facilitating the move to something more akin to supply chain management than pure hardware, software and IT services management.

There are two key pieces to the Hybrid IT puzzle. On the one hand, there’s the workload: the actual applications and services. On the other, there’s the data. The data is where the value is – the critical component, to be exploited and protected. Workloads, however, can be approached in a more brokered manner.

Properly planned and executed, Hybrid Cloud allows the enterprise to benefit from the best of both the on-premises world and the Cloud world. The ability to select the best environment for each tool, service and resource – a mix which will be different in different industries, and even in different businesses within the same industry – delivers significant benefits in terms of cost, agility, flexibility and scalability.

Key to this is a comprehensive understanding of where you are and where you want to be, before you start putting policies or technology in place. The Logicalis Hybrid IT Workshop can help enormously with this, constructing a clear view of where you are now, and where you want to be.

In the workshop we assess your top applications and services, where they reside and how they’re used in your business. We then look at where you want to get to. Do you want to own your assets, or not? Do you want to take a CAPEX route or an OPEX route? Do you have an inherent Cloud First strategy? What are your licensing issues?

We then use our own analysis tools, developed from our real world experience with customers, to create visualisations showing where you are today, where you want to eventually be and our recommended plan to bridge the gap, in terms of people, processes, technology and phases.

Hybrid Cloud offers significant benefits, but needs to be carefully planned and executed. To find out more about how Logicalis can help, see our website or call us on +44 (0)1753 77720.

Category: Hybrid IT

Neil Thurston
December 8, 2016

Nature has a balance, yin and yang, where apparent opposite forces complement each other. This is the goal of hybrid IT to blend the apparent opposites of in-house IT and public clouds and deliver seamless services to end users. This can be achieved by delivering the right mix of on premise and cloud services, 2 with consistent operational management, automation, security and service management across them.

Sitting in-between on premise and cloud infrastructures and the delivered services is a software layer – the hybrid IT operating system. This ‘operating system’ includes the software-defined data centre, the policy-based and self-service automation platform and the telemetry for analytics, security and service management platforms. What hybrid IT operating system you choose depends on your ideology.

The first ideology is ‘push’. Push says that you take the technologies, skills, processes and tools that you operate on premise and you try and replicate those in the cloud. This enables a hybrid IT transition, rather than transformation. If you use VMware virtualisation on premise this would mean using a VMware-based public clouds (such as Logicalis Optimal Cloud, IBM Bluemix or VMware on AWS in 2017) and VMware cross-cloud services across these environments (such as cross-cloud vMotion).

The second ideology is ‘pull’. Pull says that you take the technologies that the cloud operates and you replicate those on premise and refresh your skills, processes and tools accordingly. This requires a transformation, which itself presents an opportunity to review and modernise your processes and tools. If you invest heavily in Microsoft this could mean using Azure cloud and platform services and then implementing Azure Stack and Hyper-V on premise and using Azure Portal to manage everything.

There’s no right or wrong ideology – each has its own benefits and drawbacks. The reasons for choosing one way over the other include cost and risk but also the expected mix of on premise and cloud based services – for example, if you expect to have >50% on premise infrastructure then push is potentially more advantageous – and vice versa.

What’s clear is that hybrid IT is the future state of IT. Regulations, security, bespoke workloads, etc will always err towards on premise services, whilst digital users and lines of business will gravitate towards the on-demand, elastic, pay-as-you-go cloud. Hybrid IT is required to blend these services together, delivering these in a consistent approach will drive operational, service and cost efficiencies. All you need to ask yourself is ‘push’ or ‘pull’?

Category: Hybrid IT

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