In this edition of Voices of the Industry, Patrick Doherty, Chief Revenue Officer at Flexential, explores how enterprise IT leaders can accelerate their digital business growth while also increasing their organization’s resilience.
Today’s IT leaders are in the midst of an urgent shift to enterprise-wide distributed workforces and increased adoption of an “all things digital” operational mode. This calls for digital business acceleration while also increasing organizational resilience.
Concerns over security, latency, performance and cost combined with the reality of supporting an explosion of applications, next generation technologies and disconnected systems are common business challenges. Businesses must have a robust hybrid IT infrastructure that supports today’s business needs while innovating with an intention for the future.
An enterprise’s most critical IT requirements can be classified into three categories: application performance and reliability, agility and ability to scale, and network performance and interconnection.
Why do application performance & reliability matter for IT organizations?
Digital business requires a myriad of applications to run the organization, create and deliver products and services, and serve and communicate with customers, partners, suppliers and employees. Applications that are unreliable to use or completely unavailable (down) cause user frustration, lost revenue, increased costs, reduced productivity, reputational damage and increased risk.
To increase reliability and avoid unplanned downtime, IT organizations need to build resiliency against the unexpected: human errors, technology or infrastructure failures, disasters and cyber incidents. Application availability targets can be achieved with a combination of end-to-end measures that increase redundancy, increase security, provide for failovers, and enable quick recovery from incidents and outages.
The question of which combination of architecture, technology, governance and process—and at what cost—poses significant challenges; each organization has different needs, some applications are more critical than others, budgets are not infinite and compliance requirements vary widely.
This complexity means a one-size-fits-all approach does not work. Individual organizations must determine their application-specific availability targets, security and compliance needs and then design, implement and maintain solutions to meet those targets and requirements.
How IT leaders approach agility & the ability to scale
Technology has fundamentally changed the speed of external change for businesses. New market opportunities, new products and services, and competitors arise and change quickly due to fast-moving technology innovations. Innovations such as cloud services, lean-agile software development, and direct-to-consumer/customer communications removed barriers to entry, changed the business landscape, increased competition, and significantly reduced risk and investments for first movers.
These changes require organizations to innovate, change and respond quickly in order to survive and thrive. This means IT must also deliver promptly and change quickly so the business can move faster than it previously did. Speed has become crucial to take advantage of new opportunities before they disappear. Flexibility to increase, decrease or cease efforts and expenses based on the most recent data and circumstances has also become equally important.
These new business demands challenge the traditionally longer IT lifecycles for investment, procurement, development, deployment, data center and hardware refreshes. The traditional IT model no longer works when the business requires quicker delivery and faster responses.
To meet business demands today, IT organizations must act with agility—the ability to act quickly and deliver new services promptly; and scalability—the ability to increase or decrease capabilities efficiently as the business requires. IT organizations are responding with multiple approaches which include: decreasing on-premise, owned data centers, hardware purchasing and unnecessary software development, increasing third-party contracted services, SaaS subscriptions, cloud subscriptions and services, DevOps, modernization, and contracts that have built-in flexibility for quickly scaling to meet fast-changing business needs.
Business operations depend on network performance and interconnection
We live in a highly connected world that depends on data moving reliably and quickly from one point to another. For the networks moving that data, reliability and speed are primarily measured in availability and latency: is the network “up” and working? And is the data moving without unacceptable delays? An unavailable network moves nothing, and high latency can slow traffic to a crawl, causing business disruption and poor user experience like long response times, application errors and data integrity issues.
While the rules of physics limit data transmission speed, edge and distributed workload placements decrease the distance between an application and its users, thereby reducing response times and improving user experience. Well-architected and redundant interconnections between carrier networks and cloud providers avoid single points of failure and increase availability and performance. Embedded network security further protects data, network availability and performance.
As organizations increasingly use multiple clouds, distributed and edge workload placements, and they more heavily rely on digital engagement with their ecosystem (customers, partners, suppliers and employees), reliable, low latency networks and interconnections become even more critical to basic business operations and enabling good user experiences.
In order to ensure optimal performance and long-term viability, savvy enterprises are shifting to a hybrid IT approach that matches workload and application requirements with the appropriate infrastructure solution. Further success is achieved by moving workloads closer to users to reduce latency and provide a consistent customer experience.
Patrick Doherty, Chief Revenue Officer at Flexential. The company’s FlexAnywhere Solutions allow customers to solve their most complex hybrid IT infrastructure requirements, including reliability and performance, agility and scalability, and low latency interconnection, seamlessly connecting applications and users. Learn more about the FlexAnywhere platform.