Survival of the fastest — the future of the data centre
By Russell Skingsley, Vice President Systems Engineering and Center of Excellence at Juniper Networks
Tuesday, 03 May, 2016
By 2018, 50% of new data centre infrastructure investments will be for systems of engagement, insight and action rather than maintaining existing systems of record.
There’s no denying that enterprises and end users alike are steadily moving in one direction: to the cloud. In today’s cloud-driven world, it’s all about survival of the fastest. Consumers of fast-moving digitally-powered services demand self-service in every aspect of work and personal life. We shop around online before we buy, move funds around instantaneously and expect everything to happen at the touch of a button — speedily, efficiently and reliably. We are in the age of instant gratification. But that digitised world we now live in puts ever-increasing levels of pressure on businesses to deliver what we want, when we want it.
The industry is undergoing a number of exciting transformations right now, with a profound shift towards cloud-based service delivery architectures focused on performance and automation. Successful organisations therefore must be agile in order to service the demands of an ever-changing landscape. New products and services, new markets and new trends all bring challenges for businesses to adapt to in order to grow. Having the ability to change quickly brings success, but failure to instantly evolve leaves customers dissatisfied and businesses on the back foot.
As a whole though, our customers’ needs are shifting from simple demands to very sophisticated connectivity requirements, as the competitive landscape evolves and we witness megatrends unfold. From the adoption of new architectural approaches like software defined networking (SDN), to being able to provide the agility required to change and adapt alongside changing business models with the likes of software disaggregation and white box switching.
The challenge for many organisations is closing the innovation gap: the chasm between what we aim to deliver to internal and external customers, and what we can actually deliver in practice. Consumers and the market won’t wait. If we don’t quickly meet their expectations, the innovation gap becomes an opportunity for competitors to disrupt or customer disappointment to set in.
Customer insights are changing data centre priorities
In its 2016 IDC FutureScape predictions for the data centre , IDC indicates that the greater need for customer insight is changing the investment priorities of businesses with a forecast that by 2018, 50% of new data centre infrastructure investments will be for systems of engagement, insight and action rather than traditional systems of record. Meaning that businesses who are investing in new platforms that enable predictive analytics and insight capabilities will reap the benefits, staying well ahead of their competition.
Therefore it’s essential that the data centre — and its underlying infrastructure — can keep up with the demands placed on it, with the ability to evolve to stay competitive in the endlessly changing digital landscape.
The foundation of an IT-led organisation is data. It informs the development of new technologies and applications that underpin revenue growth and customer satisfaction. This places the enterprise data centre at the centre of operational goals — a critical asset that can’t be ignored.
Too often an organisation’s ability to close the innovation gap is inhibited by the data centres’ supporting infrastructure. In an era where consumers and organisations expect everything instantly, having a data centre that can adapt at the speed of the market — and turn on new services or applications instantly — is paramount. For this to be possible however the entire technology ecosystem within the data centre needs to be capable of enacting change at a moment’s notice — essentially, an instant evolution.
Closing the gap
The reality is, many data centres are currently built on foundations of outdated technology. Proprietary or obsolete hardware and software that can limit the speed at which your data centre — and the wider business — can adapt. Closed, poorly integrated and inflexible underpinnings don’t just slow down your IT staff, they slow down your entire business.
Nowhere is this truer than in the data centre network. The network isn’t just a component of the data centre, it’s the core. Without the network, users can’t connect to applications, applications can’t access the data they need and the assets become stranded and left lying idle. That’s why for organisations to succeed in the digital era, the network architecture needs to evolve at the same rate as the business.
Network Function Virtualisation (NFV) models automate network processes and increase agility. By utilising SDN and NFV approaches, businesses can move faster to close the gap between customer expectations and the time and cost required to meet them. That is, they take advantage of automation capabilities to perform most network tasks. The end result is a faster workflow of provisioning the network at scale.
Frustration between internal departments often occurs when new applications are developed that can’t be instantly deployed due to the time-lag in network configuration and resource deployment. Developers require an environment where they can innovate to meet demand, any delay in deployment will stifle their developments. Consequently, businesses disaffect customers and ultimately, take a hit on their bottom line.
Invest to evolve
With IDC’s FutureScape report predicting that 40% of businesses will confront facilities mismatches by 2018 as traditional systems are virtualised or shifted entirely to the cloud, it is important to incorporate different architecture types as part of a unified approach to future cloud solutions i.e. Virtualised IT and Private Cloud, Public Cloud and Telco Cloud. This is critical so that cloud solutions and infrastructure can seamlessly support expansion into adjacent use cases and provide organisations with leverage on existing data centre investments.
That’s where Juniper Networks is well-positioned to tackle the market, with customers recognising the value of the networking innovations that help in their transition towards cloud architectures.
Regardless of your deployment model, today or into the future, at the core of your data centre is the network — a strategically important asset in helping your business evolve in any way it chooses. Choosing the right data centre networking solution will be critical to the future of your business.
Solutions deployed today must be able to evolve to support the emerging solutions of tomorrow. With a simple, open and smart network in place, organisations can evolve quickly and smoothly, with fewer risks and lower costs. The right network can ensure your business stays at the forefront of disruptive innovation and can pave the way for instant evolution.
 IDC FutureScape: Worldwide Datacenter 2016 Predictions - APEJ Implications, #AP40437115.
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