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Successfully Straddling the Transformation/Legacy Datacenter Divide

Speed, resilience needed to keep pace with today’s digital business

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CIOs are grappling with two seemingly contradictory imperatives: transform IT to the digital future — i.e. cloud, analytics, mobile, IoT and social — while at the same time keeping the legacy applications and processes operating securely — and accomplish both with relatively flat budgets. On the face of it, a difficult challenge, but enhancing your automation and orchestration capabilities will help you to successfully straddle the Digital Transformation(DX)/legacy datacenter divide.

Where We Are

Almost everything involved with IT — except overall budgets — is growing exponentially:

  • The $148 billion cloud market is growing at 25% annually, with IaaS and PaaS services soaring at a 53% rate;
  • By the year 2020 there will be 4.1 billion Internet users, 26.3 billion networked devices and connections, and datacenter traffic will jump 330%;
  • Actionable data will grow by 9.6x and connected devices will grow to 80 billion by 2025; and,
  • Worldwide revenues for big data and business analytics will grow from $130.1 billion in 2016 to more than $203 billion in 2020.

IT budgets will increase 2.7% this year, to $3.5 trillion, but spending on cloud infrastructure — server, storage, and switches — will jump 18.2% (to $44.2 billion), while spending on non-cloud IT infrastructure will decline 3.3%.

Although the majority of end-user spending (57.9%) will still be done on on-premises IT infrastructure — on-premises private cloud and traditional IT — IDC expects that spending on off-premises cloud IT infrastructure will experience a five-year compound annual growth rate of 14.2% through 2020, while spending on non-cloud IT will decline at a CAGR of 1.9% during the same period.

Where We’re Going

We’re going digital — AKA digitization, digital disruption/transformation (DT), DX, Digital Cohesion or Industry 4.0 — and everything will change. It’s not just that digital transformation drives significant business performance improvements in speed to market, customer satisfaction and new business revenue. On average, companies going digital can expect to increase annual revenues by 2.9% and reduce costs 3.6%.

Going all in, i.e. “first movers who combine high investment levels with advanced digitization,” are “gaining a nearly insurmountable advantage over competitors.” Although just a tiny fraction of the market, first movers “are far more likely to be forecasting both revenue gains of more than 30% and cost reduction of more than 30% at the same time.”

At the center of this brave new digital future are the datacenter and the network. Networks will need to move large amounts of information quickly and securely to and within the cloud, putting tremendous pressure on networking technologies, and demanding new approaches for automation and orchestration.

Automation

With growing demands and limited budgets, networks need to do more with less, i.e. automation (the process of managing and automating the workflow and processes of a datacenter facility), or what Juniper calls “Self-Driving Networks.” Rather than expending up to 90% of IT resources just to keep the lights on — and suffering a minimum of six network errors per month — automation will enable a much more reliable and agile network with auto provisioning, smart auto-bandwidth and fast resolution (and prevention) of security issues.

Automation in the datacenter is not new, but it’s more complex with networking. It is intended to speed up the provisioning, management and orchestration of datacenter network operations but how organizations define network automation varies widely, and it is seen more as a means to an end than as a goal in its own right. The ends are security and compliance, according to Enterprise Strategy Group research.

Juniper’s operations strategy is based on automating provisioning, streamlining day-to-day management, and orchestration of networking platforms that combine to enable faster response to dynamic business environments. Automation will reduce operational complexity through simplification and abstraction, enable customers to deploy new network services faster, and improve capacity utilization and network resiliency through deep telemetry. With SDNs, networks self-discover, self-configure, self-monitor, self-fill in the blank. The path to these ‘zero touch’ networks relies on telemetry, automation, machine learning, and programming with declarative intent.

Orchestration

To effectively address the complex requirements of today's data centers, IT organizations need orchestration solutions that can consistently implement service models, governance, and policies across complex, heterogeneous environments — including cloud, virtual, and legacy infrastructure. Like automation, orchestration (the automated arrangement, coordination, and management of computer [network] systems, middleware, and services) has been active in the datacenter for years.

In fact, the two terms are often mistakenly used interchangeably. Analyst Steve Beaver uses a LEGO® analogy to clarify the terms: automation is like the LEGO pieces, and orchestration is what the LEGO pieces create. When done right, he added, the two technologies play off one another to result in streamlined, more accurate execution of operational processes that speed up successful deployments.

Regardless of how similar/dissimilar orchestration and automation are, it is essential that they work together for organizations that will be operating hybrid virtual, cloud, and legacy environments for the immediate future. Together they must enable unified workflows and help integrate configuration, provisioning, capacity utilization, and resource utilization across all available resources and infrastructure.

With the growing popularity of software-defined everything, including networking (the other SDN), you can now add Software-defined Network Orchestration. ‘What SDNO can do is cut down the amount of time and headcount required to manage the network, enforcing consistency and letting administrators know when things aren’t matching what they should,’ according to senior analyst John Fruehe, Moor Insights & Strategy.

Summary

Digitization is a journey, one that has barely begun, according to a survey of more than 2,700 IT and business decision-makers. i.e. 84% of respondents admit their organization would perform better if their current C-Suite were more tech-savvy. But the journey has begun, and with ‘first movers’ looking at revenue gains and cost reductions in excess of 30%, a long delay can prove costly.

In a digital world drowning in devices and data, networks need to be fast and flexible to meet rapidly changing customer and business demands. Network automation and orchestration can help deliver that agility by simplifying and accelerating network operations and workflows and ensure you start your digital transformation on the right path.

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