Although more costly upfront than sweating your assets, a software-defined data centre improves speed and agility while lowering costs and delivering a much faster time-to-market.
Although recent advancements in a wide range of technologies have helped add fuel to the digital transformation fire, the fact remains that the fulcrum of such transformation remains the data and what you do with it.
The limitations of traditional data centres, however, have given rise to the demand for a simplified and more adaptive infrastructure that is capable of improving both resource utilisation and response time. According to Brian Tarr, chief product and solutions officer at Nexio, these new-age data centres are not constrained by spatial limitations, being instead a dynamic collection of indefinite sets of cloud as well as non-cloud resources. These, in turn, offer immediate and seamless responsiveness, along with greater agility.
“The trouble is that many larger organisations still have plenty of legacy infrastructure, which remain assets that they want to sweat. This means little thought has been given to issues like consolidation and the reduction of the data centre’s infrastructure footprint,” he says.
“However, these are vital if the enterprise wants to adopt a software-defined (SD) approach to the data centre, which in turn will enable them to improve both speed and agility. This is what SD is all about, namely lowering costs and delivering a much faster time-to-market. With an SD approach, one can now provision a new server within minutes, whereas the same thing would have taken weeks or months in a traditional data centre.”
This is vital in the modern world, he continues, as everything revolves around user experience today – with ‘users’ being broadly defined as employees, customers, partners and suppliers. Tarr points to the fact that we live in the ‘now’ generation, where users who want something tend to want it immediately. This means that availability is the most essential offering, as any customer who wants something so rapidly will obviously not be happy should they not be able to obtain it instantly.
“Whether we are talking banking at any hour of the day, paying bills or accessing a government service like identity document application, users expect to be able to do this, without any delays or hitches. With users driving the demand for 24/7 availability, companies are realising they need to offer this, because if they don’t, the customer will quickly move to a competitor that does.
“The other aspect of SD that is significantly beneficial is that it enables heightened security too. Software-defined security means that you can have software-managed, policy-driven and governed security where most of the security controls, such as intrusion detection, network segmentation and access controls, are automated and monitored through software. You can install multiple different forms of security, from multiple providers, independent of the hardware.”
Despite these clear benefits, he suggests that SD has yet to take off significantly in South Africa, as the current economy is forcing many enterprises to try and sweat their assets further. The trouble with this approach, he adds, is that the speed of technology change is so rapid that unless the company makes an effort to keep pace with it, it will soon be left behind. If you remain static, he explains, you will be unable to compete in the race.
“My advice to these organisations would be to be prepared to invest, but also to ensure that this is done in the right places. This will help to drive a better user experience, based on new technologies and an SD approach. With this in place, you will create a better customer experience that leads to happier customers. The happier the customer is, the more likely they are to spend more money, ensuring the investment quickly pays for itself.
“Remember that if you want to move up to the next level, you need to be standing on the level below – you cannot still be on the ground. Therefore, investing in the right solutions and working with the right systems integrator may mean spending more in the short term, but it will enable you to effectively transform your business, allowing it to be profitable and deliver better customer experiences over the long term,” he concludes.