Beginning your IT transformation journey
As my colleague, Adeel Omer, pointed out in his recent blog, digital transformation is not theory or projection, it’s something that is happening now. To varying degrees, digital transformation is taking place in every organization, of every size, in every industry, and across every sector. Whether we choose to embrace it or not is a different matter.
The technology that drives transformation is changing at a phenomenal rate, with capabilities increasing by an order of magnitude (10x) every few years. This has a huge impact our every-day lives, as well as the expectations of anyone who uses or works with technology.
The digital economy is, in essence, fundamentally changing the way IT must think about the applications and systems it oversees– the underlying infrastructure, and the people and processes required to support them. We must assume a digital transformation mindset as we develop the architectures, processes and skills required to support an interconnected, always on, instant access world.
The rapidly accelerating scale and complexity of application ecosystems necessitates that organizations surrender direct, moment-by-moment systems control to software automation that enables us to reserve human interaction for monitoring and management. If we want our companies and organizations to remain relevant, and to meet or exceed the expectations of the digital economy, IT itself must transform to deliver the efficiency, predictability and agility needed to run these increasingly complex systems. The best, fastest way to do this is to change to a cloud model.
Change is always a bit daunting, in that it often means stepping outside of comfort zones, and the path for each individual journey to transformation isn’t always crystal clear. To help to overcome the discomfort and apprehension, Dell EMC uses a holistic IT transformation methodology, built three distinct elements:
- Modernization of the underlying infrastructure,
- Automation of service delivery and
- Transformation of the underlying processes and personnel.
These are not necessarily sequential phases, but rather distinct areas of development that must occur to create truly modern, future-ready IT.
The critical tenets of a modern infrastructure are that it must be trusted, that it leverage flash storage for the best possible efficiency and performance, and that it is optimized to be scale-out, software-defined, and cloud-enabled. This combination of features integrates security and data protection with high performance infrastructure components that use a common ‘building block’ approach.
Utilizing policy-driven application and data mobility, as well as the ability to fully leverage both on- and off-premises resources and delivering maximum flexibility for both programmability and the infrastructure itself, the modern infrastructure is powerful, efficient, agile, and optimized to support cloud.
But modernization does not mean “rip and replace.” In fact, many organizations modernize different aspects of the IT infrastructure in phases to reduce disruption and budget pressures. And while it is possible to craft a modern infrastructure using disparate, and even existing server, storage or networking elements, the quickest, most efficient way to modernization is through the use of converged infrastructure, specifically hyper-converged infrastructures like VxRail, because these offerings are ready to deploy and are inclusive of all critical modernization aspects.
Automate service delivery
The next element expands on the foundational architectural components, enhancing manageability by reliably removing the dependency on human interaction from routine day to day activities, instead leveraging software and policy-driven automation. This phase is focused on orchestration and enabling an Application Program Interface (API)-driven environment. APIs are critical, as they allow infrastructure to be programmed rather than relying on manual control, moving us away from scripts, command line interfaces (CLIs) and graphical user interfaces (GUIs). Once APIs are fully utilized, the possibility of human error is minimized and organizations can use orchestration tools to automate the delivery of infrastructure services. These processes are now easily repeatable, more predictable and more highly available.
To this point, we’ve been discussing technology, but the final element of IT transformation is ultimately the most critical– the refinement of new processes and the skills of IT personnel. Your team will likely need to acquire new skills to support the new model. This will enhance productivity and allow them to develop, refine and manage more applications at greater scale. Modern IT manages through policy to automate routine activities (such as provisioning) into seamless processes that provide automated, self-service capabilities, removing the need for cumbersome activities like IT tickets and siloed manual steps. This delivers a frictionless consumption experience to application owners, and ultimately accelerates business agility. Business agility allows greater innovation, as well as the ability to iterate quickly, delivering better customer experiences and ensuring competitiveness.
Real world results
The true measure of the success of these modernization is in the end results. Dell EMC recently commissioned a study with analyst firm ESG, reaching out to thousands of IT executives and managers to gain greater insight into the results of these activities in real world environments. The resulting IT Transformation Maturity Study showed that organizations that have transformed IT operations are three times more likely to be ahead of schedule on new projects and are able to free up an additional 33 percent of budget for innovation as opposed to maintenance activities. These results demonstrate just how transformed organizations, specifically digitally transformed organizations, are able to be more future focused and far more efficient than organizations that continue to leverage legacy IT infrastructure, delivery models, and processes.
While every organization is unique, there are clearly consistent parallels. Most are not able to transform every aspect of their IT operations all at once due to financial or resource constraints. However, those who have started the digital transformation journey are reaping the benefits. What matters most is that you begin now. Begin to plan. Begin to execute. Begin to transform.
Robert Bradfield is a strategic campaign marketing director at Dell EMC.