By Erik Thoen
Digital transformation is not a one-time event. To be successful, enterprises require a framework that enables continuous transformation. CIOs need a software-based architecture to future-proof their IT infrastructure, which enables flexible transformation to adapt to future competitive threats.
For many companies, investments in transformation are not an option, they are about business survival. The challenge for many businesses is the rapid emergence of new competitive pressures. In some cases, existing competitors began to leverage digital technology, which can reduce costs or improve efficiencies.
In other cases, entirely new competitors emerge, such as Amazon entering the grocery space with the purchase of Whole Foods. In cases like this, entire business models can be disrupted. If incumbents don’t recognize the threat and adapt to the new competitor, they can quickly become extinct.
Digital initiatives by definition require IT, but most infrastructure was not created to transform a business. A recent Sana Commerce study indicated good news and bad news.
The good news is that 80% of US companies have a digital transformation strategy, so these companies recognize the trend of new technology disruption and the threat to their business.
The bad news is that only 4% of organizations have completed their roll-out of transformational technology. Often, legacy information technology is simply not designed to implement new digital initiatives, so projects stall in deployment.
Breaking The Bottleneck
From an IT perspective, most enterprises transform by deploying new software applications or services. IT organizations have always managed applications, but traditionally the deployment of a new service was a major undertaking. With a legacy, hardware-centric approach, IT personnel are sent to a hosting site to rack-and-stack boxes and then manually configure the application. It’s no wonder projects stall.
To break the bottleneck, companies need a more flexible IT infrastructure. New technology is constantly being created and leveraged to create new competitive threats, so CIOs need to adopt flexible compute, storage, and network infrastructure and processes which can run services in a scalable and cost-effective way.
The emergence of software-defined infrastructure in place of traditional appliance-based models provides flexibility that was not previously possible, offering the flexibility that digital transformation initiatives require.
A Framework For Digital Transformation
At 128 Technology we provide a software-based networking solution that serves as the underlying framework for digital transformation. Because our software is abstracted from the underlying infrastructure, the same software-based solution can be deployed on bare metal servers, virtualized platforms, or in the public cloud, providing considerable deployment flexibility.
In contrast to hardware-centric solutions, software provides scalability and agilitybecause administrators can rapidly spin up, configure, and spin down software instances. Abstracting the underlying compute also simplifies deployment from a lifecycle management perspective because each router is treated in a similar manner.
During initial deployment, the steps for zero-touch provisioning are the same whether routers are deployed on bare metal, a private OpenStack cloud, or in AWS. Within our management tool, the 128T Conductor shown below, deployed assets are managed using the same interface, simplifying administrator workflows.
By moving to software-based network components, the IT network infrastructure enables digital transformation.
We encounter numerous examples of the power of a software-based networking solution. Simply eliminating the need for dedicated hardware can rapidly accelerate projects.
For example, we’ve had customers who may have originally planned to purchase dedicated hardware for networking functions, but the lead time was simply unacceptable for their transformation timeline. Instead, customers have deployed projects in hours in their existing VMWare environment or in AWS.
For many customers, the scalability of software can also lead to considerable savings. Instead of purchasing hardware for peak capacity, an enterprise can create a new software router with application instances in the public cloud for periods of high demand, and then spin down the entire infrastructure when the demand subsides.
Digital transformation is a continuous process for enterprises, so the underlying IT infrastructure needs to enable flexible transformation. For rapid change, configurability, and elastic scalability, CIOs need software-based network elements to enable flexible transformation.
Erik Thoen is Vice President, Product Management at 128 Technology
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